Yesterday by Haruki Murakami

Erika stared at the candle flame flickering in the breeze from the A.C. “I often have the same dream,” she said. “Aki-kun and I are on a ship. A long journey on a large ship. We’re together in a small cabin, it’s late at night, and through the porthole we can see the full moon. But that moon is made of pure, transparent ice. And the bottom half of it is sunk in the sea. ‘That looks like the moon,” Aki-kun tells me, ‘but it’s really made of ice and is only about eight inches thick. So when the sun comes out in the morning it all melts. You should get a good look at it now, while you have the chance.’ I’ve had this dream so many times. It’s a beautiful dream. Always the same moon. Always eight inches thick. I’m leaning against Aki-kun, it’s just the two of us, the waves lapping gently outside. But every time I wake up I feel unbearable sad.”

“YesterdayIs two days before tomorrow,The day after two days ago.”


When I finish a piece by Haruki Murakami I can envision the setting. I can feel the mood. I feel like I’ve been introduced properly to the characters. His writing makes the smallest detail seem incredibly important. But I can’t always say that I understand what he’s writing about. I look for a theme, or a lesson, or even a significant point, and I feel a bit lost. To me, Yesterday speaks ultimately about the brevity of our lives, the melting of what’s important, and the sadness inherent in every relationship.
What I do understand is how his characters feel. His description of them resonates with me in such a way that it feels as if he’s describing my own heart. My own life: 
“I couldn’t speak. Not being able to find the right words at crucial times is one of my many problems.”
And:
“Brooding over how things had turned out–after everything had already been decided–was another of my chronic problems.”
Thanks to Mookse and The Gripes for the heads up about the appearance of Haruki Murakami’s short story. You can read Yesterday in The New Yorker here.
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17 thoughts on “Yesterday by Haruki Murakami”

  1. funny, when I started reading your post, I thought: how come I don't know about this book by my favorite Japanese author? and then discovered what it was. thanks for the link, on my way to reading it!
    Another cool piece on the moon as well, “comme il se doit”

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  2. words and peace, this is a short story I'd not heard of either. I was so glad when Mookse and the Gripes brought to attention in his post, and then a few days later the New Yorker made it available to the public. I think it's something I have to read more than once, as usual with Haruki, but I sat by the window in the rain yesterday and loved every word.

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  3. Chris, I know! I've had Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage on pre-order for six months! I have a read-along planned for the Japanese Literature Challenge in September, but we might need to get to it before that. Hope we can read it together.

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  4. Sarah, if you loved 1Q84, which I did as well, I suggest you read Kafka On The Shore (if you haven't already). This post is just about a short story, but so many of us are dying to get his latest in our hands. It takes forever to come to America!

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  5. Bellezza, my friend Anne-Flore gave me the heads up on this piece yesterday and I was thrilled to bits!! Anything by Murakami is a must read – as you well know. I'm so happy to read your thoughts on this piece. I can definitely understand and agree with you regarding the way a Murakami story leaves you feeling after. I find that I tend to feel a bit lost, too. And, I am always left yearning for more of his words. I can't wait to dive into his latest in August!

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  6. Oh Nadia, I'd love to hear your thoughts when you finish this short piece. I can't wait until August, either! We will have a great time, and hopefully Chris (and a few others) will be able to join us.

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  7. Thank you Meredith for guiding me to Haruki Murakami's short story. I knew he had a new book which I can't wait to read, so Yesterday is a welcome read to keep me patient.

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  8. Thank you for the heads up about this story! I love reading Murakami. Like you, I can't say I understand his works. I also tend to describe them in terms of themes. I think Murakami is more of an experience and I love my Murakami experiences.

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