Sunday, October 12, 2014

Book Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

I've been wanting to buy this book for so long because I'm so intrigued about its popularity and any of Haruki Murakami titles. So, I first bought my first Haruki Murakami book - Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage. For more details, see below:

Book Details:

  • Title: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
  • Original Japanese Title: 色彩を持たない多崎つくると、彼の巡礼の年 | Shikisai o motanai Tazaki Tsukuru to, Kare no Junrei no Toshi
  • Author:
  • Translated in English by: Philip Gabriel
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 9780385352109
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
  • Published Date:
  • Media Type: Hardcover
  • Genre: Literary Realism, Bildungsroman
  • Suitable to Age: 18+

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage (view it from Otakore's Instagram)

Book Review (Physical):

First part of our book review for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage, we'll inspect the quality and appearance of the book.

Below is the front cover of the book. It shows a cool five finger-like art and you'll find the meaning of it when you read the book:

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage Front Cover

The back cover details the usual bar code and compliments from news magazine:

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage Back Cover

Removing the dusk jacket, shows the gimmick behind it (this book is really attractive):

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage Dusk Jacket Gimmick

Without the dusk jacket, the book art displays a Tokyo railway map (the time i saw it, I started to get curious what's this map got to do with the story):

Below shows the spine of the book (without dusk jacket) and the sides of the dusk jacket:

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage Book Spine

And here's a glimpse on the first page of the book, the Toyko Railways:

Now, we proceed to the second part of our book review for Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. We'll give this book a verdict at the end and our thoughts after finishing the book.

Do you wear your earpiece? Or your stereo On? Because i set the music to play automatically (check below). You'll be hearing Franz Liszt - Années de pèlerinage (Years of Pilgrimage), piece number 8 - Le mal du pays (Homesickness). This piano piece has something to do with the story. Please don't take this as a spoiler. I just want you to be prepared before reading the book :)

Source of this piece publicly available by frrc-audio's SoundCloud

Moreover, here's a brief video synopsis of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, source from Knopf DoubleDay YouTube Channel (you may skip this if you want to read the book fresh):

  • Character References:
  • You may want to familiarize with the character below. Just another reference note. They're in Japanese name, of course. If you're having a problem with forgetting Japanese names, the below list could help you:
  • -    Tsukuru Tazaki - Tsukuru means "to make or build"
  • -    Kei Akamatsu - Aku means "red pine"       
  • -    Yoshio Oumi - Ao means "blue sea"           
  • -    Yuzuki Shirane - Shiro means "white root"
  • -    Eri Kurono - Kuro means "black field"      
  • -    Sara Kimoto
  • -    Fumiaki Haida - Haida means "gray field"
  • -    Midorikawa - means "green river"             

Book Review (Thoughts):
"You can hide memories, but you can't erase the history that produce them."
- Sara Kimoto (pg. 44)

The story hit me as i can relate so much with Tsukuru Tazaki's younger years. Like the feel of being ostracized and you didn't know why the hell your friends are distancing away from you. The feel of being different because of my fancy odd name. The feel of saying goodbye, a final farewell to someone you've known for so long. And the feel of losing someone who just vanished without any words. These experiences are the same with Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki's. Tsukuru Tazaki with his four best friends, with Sara and with Haida.

Part of the story i like is his years and moment with Haida. I like their intellectual discussions and Haida's storytelling about Midorikawa. I would like to quote this couple of meaningful messages by Fumiaki Haida:

"I want to be free - to go where I want, when I want, and be able to think about whatever I want."

- Fumiaki Haida (pg. 72)

"People whose freedom is taken away always end up hating somebody."

- Fumiaki Haida (pg. 73)

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage is in some way magical, thrilling, and will make you speculate on characters after reading the book. It's a little like Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book not in a way you hop on pages but you'll think about what would happen after finishing the story.

There are times you read a certain plot and you're eager to continue reading for more to find out who did it and who's who til there's no happy-ending for that. But you wouldn't feel the discontentment because you're reading a pilgrimage and it's not something will resolve "that" certain plot.

There's also scenes of sexual fantasy by Tsukuru so i wouldn't recommend this book to be read by age 17 and below.

Finishing the last page of the book, a surge of questions came to my mind. What will happen tomorrow Wednesday (in the book), where Sara will tell Tsukuru if he's with someone and if she will be the woman of his life? Who murdered Shiro? Who raped her? What's inside Midorikawa's bag while he's playing the piano? These questions were never meant to be answered because it's not a thriller novel. Haruki Murakami wrote the ending well for a story of pilgrimage. I really praised this book for that.

So, my final verdict for this book is (rating): 4.0 / 5.0

  • Haruki Murakami is a Japanese contemporary writer.
  • won several literary awards like World Fantasy Award (2006), Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award (2006), Franz Kafka Prize (2006), and the Jerusalem Prize (2009).



Planning to read this book? You can buy the same copy i read at the following (check below):


  1. Yes, it left me with a lot of questions too. There is room for a sequel but I doubt Murakami will write one. I think he wants to leave us hanging.

  2. Hey Otakore!

    I really liked how you put in the musical piece in this post. Murakami cites so many musical influences in his books. I've even tried to compile a playlist of Murakmi's music ( i gave up because i couldn't find a lot of them )
    Are you going to get his next book the strange library ( i think that's what it's called )


    1. I prefer a hardbound book but Knopf is only releasing a paperback edition of the Strange Library. I think, I'll await them to release the hardcover one then i'll buy :)

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post and observations about the book. I wrote one about the physical book itself, and while it wasn't readily apparent to me about the five fingered hand, I did like that the fingers were transparent/colorless once the dust jacket is taken off. To me, it means that Tsukuru's friends were as colorless as he when the group disbanded.

    Aren't the quotes wonderful? While this will never be one of my favorite Murakami novels, Kafka on The Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle will be my most beloved, I agree with giving it a four out of five stars. There is a lot to think about, and some questions I have left unanswered (as usual with Murakami). But, I think he touches on feelings of isolation and abandonment so eloquently. At least for me.

    Thank you for visiting and following my blog. I, too, am adding you to my blog list. Nice to "meet" you!

    1. I added you too in my blog link and note you as highly-recommended book blog :)

      I like Haida's quote most. He's intelligent and a good cook. I wish he's a girl.

      I'm glad, I stumbled upon your blog.


  4. Its my first time to hear and see this book and it's already intriguing because of the fact that this is originally from Japan . It's on my reading list. Thank you for sharing :)

  5. The book sounds very interesting! I must actually look for this in the book store this weekend. Great review!

  6. I've always loved Haruki Murakami!

  7. I'm not sure if I have read any book from Haruki Murakami... but with your intriguing book review, I think I should research more of his works. I also love reading books as well as digital ones, your blog is great place for bibliophiles!

    JeniG Kalikotpepot

  8. I've been seeing this book in the shelves of the Bookstores I go to and didn't really catch my attention but seeing that railway and your overview, it got me interested now. I'll buy this book and Haruki Murakmi's other books. It's about time to read new sets :)

  9. This seems to be a very good book to read and will definitely buy this soon. Thanks for the review.

  10. I'm a fan of the author so I wanna read this for myself

  11. Tempted to see the video, but I don't want to spoil it, so I might just read it..
    Thanks for the share