Yukio Mishima lived in a Spanish baroque house that he designed himself and stuffed with European antiques. A visiting French TV documentary crew asked him, inevitably, where all the Japanese art was and why he lived like a Westerner. He replied, ‘here only what you cannot see is Japanese’.
Haruki Murakami now occupies the position formerly taken by Mishima as Japan’s most translated writer and its best-selling novelist, but in one important sense does not resemble Mishima: his novels and stories, although nominally set in Japan, could take place anywhere – or possibly nowhere. Any large alienating city will