On the afternoon of the day before they are set to return to Tokyo , while his wife is taking a nap, the narrator goes for a swim in the ocean. He eventually finds himself on a raft with an obese but healthy American woman and they talk. They talk about their respective personal lives before the narrator returns to the hotel to spend the evening with his wife. The narrator wakes up past midnight and is unable to continue sleeping so he goes out for a walk; he runs into the son at the beach bar and converses with him.
The son talks about how he and his mother are staying her indefinitely and his philosophy regarding their relative idleness when they stay at these types of resorts. He finally shows an ornate hunting knife to the narrator and asks him to cut something for him.
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: Twenty-four Stories
After hacking away at a number of things, the son tells about a recurring dream he has: there is a "knife" stuck in his head but he is unable to pull it out no matter how hard he tries. A man and a woman go to see a kangaroo family at the zoo a month after seeing it advertised in the newspaper.
When they arrive, they notice that there is no longer a baby kangaroo and are disappointed. The man does to buy the woman ice cream and when he returns, the woman points out that there is a baby in the mother's pouch. After they realize that the baby is asleep, they agree to grab a beer somewhere together. A man running down an underground corridor to get to a job interview has to decide whether to go right or left at a T-shaped intersection; he flips a coin and decide to go right.
A secretary for the "boss" emerges from a bath and tells the man he has to give a password to meet the "boss.
When the secretary tells the "boss" over the intercom, it is revealed that the "boss" is a palm-sized dabchick and he comments to the secretary that the man is late. A married man with a son meets a woman named Izumi during a business meeting; they soon realize that they have an ineffable mutual bond. They eventually consummate their relationship, but when Izumi's husband and the man's wife find out, the cheated spouses leave their respective partners the man's wife also takes custody of their son. Izumi suggests to the man that they quit their jobs and go live on a Greek island for a few years with their savings; he agrees.
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
On the airplane flight to the island, he has an anxiety attack, scared of a new start in a faraway land. One day during their stay in Greece, the man reads a story in the newspaper to Izumi about a local woman who was eaten by her cats after she died thus leaving her famished pets trapped in her apartment. Izumi says that it reminds her of a story a nun told her when she attended Catholic school: the nun says if you are stranded on an island with a cat, do not share food with the cat as it is not "chosen by God.
That night, he wakes up and finds Izumi missing; he also hears music coming from the top on a nearby hill and decides to make the trek to the summit to find the source of the melody. On the way up the hill, he experiences a trance in which he remembers his old life. When he reaches the top and is unable to find a source, he returns to his apartment and thinks of cats eating him alive as he tries to fall asleep alone.
In a frame story, a man tells about his "poor aunt," an unremarkable and burdensome thing usually a person, but it can also be an animal or a various object that figurative sticks to a certain person's back. His example is of an actual aunt at a wedding; at that wedding companions tell of their own various "poor aunts. From June 4 to July 14 in , a twenty-seven-year-old man vomits daily and receives regular phone calls in which a man says his name and hangs up. Since he regularly sleeps with his male friends wives or girlfriends as a whimsical hobby, he suspects the calls could be from a spiteful friend who does not want to directly confront him but the voice from the phone does not match any of his friends' voices.
Further, no matter how hard he tries, he is unable to stop himself from vomiting the food he ate earlier in the day. He takes time off from work and stays at a hotel but the vomiting and calls do no stop. One the final day of his ordeal in July, he receives the final mysterious call; he is asked by the voice "Do you know who I am? Murakami, the listener of this man's story, suggests that the calls could be from a private detective or it could be that the man is possibly schizophrenic. Both conclude that the ordeal the man went through his some hidden meaning and agree that it could again happen to either of them out of the blue.
A mid-fifties man dubbed "the seventh man" tells a story to a group about his childhood. When he was ten and lived in a small, seaside town most likely in the Shizuoka Prefecture , he had a close friend named K. One day, a typhoon hits the area and while their town is in the eye , they go down to the beach; the seventh man is told by his father to return to the house as soon as winds pick up. While examining items of the beach, the seventh man sees a wave huge wave form and warns K by screaming to him but his warning falls on deaf ears; K is swallowed by the wave while the seventh man, on higher ground, is spared.
A second wave forms but dies the moment before it is to hit the seventh man and in that moment he sees an apparition of K reaching out to him before he faints.
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The seventh man wakes up a week later in the care of his family and learns that K disappeared without a trace. Many years go on without any evidence of K's remains coming to light; further, the seventh man is haunted by nightmares of K drowning and by the fact that no one outwardly blames him for K's disappearance. By the end of the year, he moves away to Komoro to get away from the town; he stays in the city for more than forty years but is still haunted by nightmares of K.
He returns to the town and the beach where K disappeared in his fifties and goes through a storage shed which contains K's paintings. Despite the anguish he feels with merely possessing them he takes it with him back home to Komoro.
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He studies them and realizes that K's apparition was not looking at him with hatred and resentment all those years. He returns to the beach once more and surrenders himself to the water by falling face-first into the ocean. The seventh man finishes the story by telling his audience to not turn our backs on fear and not close our when it strikes. A man only cooks and eats spaghetti in He sometimes imagines that people are knocking at his door, including dates, William Holden , or complete strangers.
He receives a phone call in December of that year from an ex-girlfriend of his friend; she wants to know where to find him so she can get the money he owes her. The man does not tell her where he is despite knowing because he does not want to start more trouble and makes an excuse saying that he cannot talk because he is cooking spaghetti; he hangs up and never hears from her again. Shozaburo Takitani is a jazz trombonist who is able to avoid many of the hardships of World War II by playing in clubs in Shanghai.
He is imprisoned after the end of the war by the Chinese Army but is released in ; he returns to Japan and a year later and gets married. Tony Takitani is born in and his mother dies three days later. Because of this unfortunate event, Tony grows up without a true parent as his father is often away on musical tours and does not know much about being a father.
Despite this, Tony is able to become a great illustrator and secures a well-paying job as a technical illustrator.
When Tony is thirty-seven years old, he falls in love with a twenty-two-year-old woman who visits his office on an errand. After pulling some strings to have her visit again, he asks her out to lunch. After a few dates he proposes to her; although unsure at first, she eventually agrees.
For several years they are able to both live a carefree life, but when Tony points out to her that she buys an astronomical number of dresses and shoes, she begins to become self-conscious; she dies in an automobile collision shortly thereafter.
To cope, he tries to hire a woman who has a body figure similar to his wife to wear his wife's clothing and work as a secretary in his office. When he finds a suitable candidate, he shows her his wife's wardrobe and the woman processes to cry over the beauty of the dresses. He tells her to take seven dresses and seven pairs of shoes for the week and to begin working tomorrow. After she leaves, he looks at the clothing and reconsiders; he calls the woman to tell her that he has rescinded the job offer but she is free to keep the dresses and shoes she has already taken for the week.
Soon after Tony sells the remainder of his late wife's clothing for a fraction of the price. His father dies two years later and he sells all of his father's records for a decent price. After doing so, he feels that he is now truly alone.
A man sees a newspaper advertisement for a "Sharpie Cakes" seminar and decides to go to it; there he meets over a thousand other people. They learn that the company who makes Sharpie Cakes wants a new recipe and will over two million yen for the winning recipe. The man makes his own Sharpie Cakes and gives two batches to the company. He is called into the office and is told that his Sharpie Cakes are popular among the younger employees of the company but must pass one final test to be considered Sharpie Cakes.
The man is escorted to a secure room with giant crows who only eat Sharpie Cakes. His recipe is presented to the birds and it causes a frenzy among them, causing his recipe to be dismissed from the competition. After exiting the company building, he decides that he will only make and eat food he wants to eat and not think about whether "crows" like it.
A woman meets an "Ice Man" during her trip to a ski resort. The Ice Man is able to tell her everything about herself bar her future during their conversation. The two begin dating in Tokyo until they decide to get married; the woman's family is against the marriage because of her age twenty and the fact that very little is known about the Ice Man's history.