This Pen For Hire: The Murakami J. Press Stories

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Tokyo-based Ivy Style contributor W. David Marx, whose book on the history of Ivy in Japan comes out later this year, recently wrote about the advertorial pieces famed novelist Haruki Murakami penned for J. Press:

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Onward spent massive sums on advertising J. Press in the print media. The classic ad format, often seen on the back cover of lifestyle magazine Popeye, showed a Japanese or American man telling a colorful story about their favorite trad clothing item. In 1985, as Japanese pop culture went in more avant-garde directions, Onward came up with a new idea — asking up-and-coming novelist Murakami Haruki to write a very short story inside each month’s advertisement for magazines Popeye, Box, and Men’s Club.

Murakami was given free creative rein with no requirement to include J. Press in the stories. It’s all a fascinating piece of trad history in the land of the Rising Sun. Head over to his site Neojaponisme for the full story. — CC

10 Comments on "This Pen For Hire: The Murakami J. Press Stories"

  1. As someone who IS an employee at an advertising firm I can only wish that any one of my young colleagues would dress so well.

    “I was a little worried that the center creases in my olive chinos had started to fade, but I guess not everything had to be perfect. And the combination of the navy blue flannel blazer and burnt orange shirt did make me look a little like a young employee at an advertising firm.”

  2. Advertising…Robert…Bob…is that Bob Benson?? Bob stop messin’ around with Joan!

  3. Boston Bean | January 9, 2015 at 2:25 am |

    @Robert

    Your young colleagues have probably never worn a jacket that wasn’t at least one size too small, or a pair of pants that didn’t have a low waist and a high crotch.

  4. Murakami Haruki is vastly overrated as an author. If I never read how someone drained a glass of beer again, it’ll be too soon.

  5. Bags' Groove | January 11, 2015 at 3:21 am |

    @ Henry

    I wondered what sort of reception, if any, he would receive here.
    Can be a little repetitive, I agree, but anyone who can write an absorbing novel about a guy who sits at the bottom of a dry well gets my approval.

  6. The novel that put him on the map was Norwegian Wood, a singularly dreary book without redeeming qualities. True, it’s not as mournful and tedious as Natsume Soseki’s Kokoro, but both are high on the reading lists of suicidal depressives everywhere.

  7. @Henry

    Very interesting that you are so dismissive of an author who has won so many honors, and whose work has been translated into over 50 languages and is considered a milestone in the history of literature. Into how many languages has your literary work been translated?

  8. Popularity does not equal quality.

    My literary endeavors are not the topic.

    I’ve read Murakami Haruki in the original and in translation, and didn’t care for either. Your mileage may vary.

  9. Incidentally, if anyone wants to experience Norwegian Wood without all that, you know, reading, watch the movie. Like the original, it is without charm. It does an amazing job of preserving the book’s bleakness and glacial pace. It is perhaps the best film adaptation of a book I’ve ever seen.

    I couldn’t stand the movie, either.

  10. @Henry

    Agreed.
    Orhan Pamuk won a Nobel and is totally unreadable in any language.

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