I Think I am Turning Japanese/ My Favourite Author is Haruki Murakami and Favourite Artist is Yoshitomo Nara

Essay by Luke Foster

“Things outside you are projections of what’s inside… what’s inside…. Is a projection of what’s outside.”

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami

I have been drawn to Japanese culture for decades and visited Japan several times for a month, a fortnight and a few brief two-day trips from Busan South Korea to Fukuoka by jet cat to get my work visa to teach English in South Korea.

It’s while I was in South Korea in Busan that I discovered Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood in a bookstore in the limited selection of English novels in a largely Korean bookstore.

But it wasn’t until I got back to Australia some six months later that I read Norwegian Wood and was transfixed with it. Over the next ten years I would collect all Murakami’s novels and read them all apart from IQ84 that I have but still haven’t read yet.

His novels seem to be a mixture of Japanese and Western culture but also include spiritualism and a complex amalgamation of Japanese culture.

“Everything passes. Nobody gets anything for keeps. And that’s how we’ve got to live. “

Haruki Murakami

It was in 2001 that I met my now favourite artist Yoshitomo Nara in the exhibition Neo-Tokyo at the Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney when I worked there as a preparator. All preparators means is the team of workers who install and pack up exhibitions at the museum.

Yoshitomo Nara with one of his paintings

I did a drawing swap with Nara which was amazing for me as soon as I saw his small drawings I was transfixed. He also had a big dish painting and colourful sculptures called the Little Pilgrims.

Since then, I have been mesmerised by Nara and bought loads of his coffee table art books, t-shirts, throw overs, prints and hoodies.

I have watched the documentary about him: Travelling with Yoshitomo Nara lots of times.

Any way in conclusion I love these two and Japanese culture in general. I can’t wait to do a studio residency in Fukuoka for a month in 2025 that I have already booked in.