Tokyo Decadence: 15 Stories by Ryu Murakami


Tokyo Decadence: 15 Stories by


Translated by Ralph McCARTHY

A cream-of-the-crop selection of Murakami's brilliance and piercing wit.
This collection shows sides of Ryu Murakami that even avid fans may not be expecting.

The intriguing, somewhat disturbing stories that Topaz was based on are included here, as are three entertaining and revealing portraits of the artist as a young man back in the Transparent Blue period of the late sixties and early seventies. We hear tales told by four very different individuals living in eighties Tokyo, each with his or her own problems but all with a thing about a certain pro baseball player, and we meet a brokenhearted young woman who finds an unexpected moment of love in the nineties and a single mother who stumbles on a ray of hope in the hard times of the noughties.
Mixed in there somewhere are three linked stories about desire and obsession, with the timeless, seductive rhythms of Cuban music in the background.

This book contains explicit content and is not suitable for minors.


From Run, Takahashi! (1986, 走れ!タカハシ)
  • Whenever I Sit at a Bar Drinking Like This (カウンターで飲んでいる時、いつも思うのだが、バーテンダーというのは何と崇高なのだろう)
  • I Am a Novelist (私は小説家である)
  • It All Started Just About a Year and a Half Ago (あれはちょうど一年半くらい前のことだった)
  • Each Time I Read Your Confession (調書を全部何回読んでも、わからん事がある、どうしてお前はあの女を殺さなかったんだ?)
From Topaz (1988, トパーズ)
  • Topaz (トパーズ)
  • Lullaby (子守唄)
  • Penlight (ペンライト)
From Ryu's Cinematheque (1995, 村上龍映画小説)
  • The Last Picture Show (ラストショー)
  • The Wild Angels (ワイルドエンジェル)
  • La Dolce Vita (甘い生活)
From Swans (1997, 白鳥)
  • Swans (白鳥)
  • Historia de un Amor (或る恋のものがたり)
  • Se Fué (彼女は行ってしまった)
  • All of Me (わたしのすべてを)
From At the Airport (2003, 空港にて)
  • At the Airport (空港にて)


  • ...the seamier side of Japan’s capital city... captures the unique flavor of the city through his cutting dialogue and often achingly beautiful descriptions. —World Literature Today
  • ...this book was terrifying. Terrifying because it threw a side of society which exists and thrives everywhere but is deftly hidden most of the times right to my face... —Literary Sisters
  • Murakami is indeed Dazai's true spiritual heir: a worldly, unshockable writer whose natural milieu lurks in the degeneracy of the world around him. ... No matter how sunk into depression, nihilism and cynicism we are—how much we give ourselves up to decadence and abuse—there is another purified and elevated version of ourselves waiting to be tapped into. Resonating with some fascinating ideas on the nature of art itself, Murakami's stories offer a fearless and iconoclastic insight into the subterranean obsessions and passions of Japan's megalopolis. —Damian Flanagan, The Japan Times
  • Tokyo Decadence could be a depressing read with all these drifters, hoodlums, prostitutes, drug addicts and women on the verge of a nervous breakdown or beyond; the fact that Ryu Murakami was hailed by some media as an author in the mould of Bret Easton Ellis or Chuck Palahniuk seemed to suggest that I was to expect a book I would most probably not really enjoy very much. But it turned out that this book was a pleasant surprise. [...] Highly recommended! —Thomas Hübner, Mytwostotinki
  • A very welcome collection: Murakami remains an underestimated and underappreciated author (though fortunately quite a few of his works have been translated into English), and this is a very good introduction to his writing, giving a good sense of what he does and how he does it. It offers new insights to old fans, too. — Michael Orthofer, The Complete Review
  • Indispensable to understanding why Ryu Murakami ... has been so garlanded with honors in Japan, including the prestigious Akutagawa and Noma prizes. In Murakami's modern take on Dazai-style decadence, we visit a world where characters don't just hit you, they slam you with a bottle of Chivas Regal —Damian Flanagan, Japan Times
  • Having previously read some of Murakami's work, I was rightfully prepared for Tokyo Decadence to be engaging while revealing a viciously dark sense of humor and dealing in gut-churning blood and gore. What I didn't expect was that some of the stories, or at least parts of those stories, would be legitimately charming, compelling, and even occasionally heartwarming. Among the tales of gruesome murder, insanity, lust, obsession, and a myriad types of abuse are moments of love and humanity. —Ash Brown, Experiments in Manga
  • ...allows us to see Murakami at different stages of career, showing us his development as a writer and the change in focus over the years. entertaining set of stories, well worth seeking out for all J-Lit lovers (and a must for any Ryū fans out there). —Tony Malone, Tony's Reading List
  • Readers seeking a progressive story of emotional and physical evolution together with insights about Japan's cultural psyche will find Tokyo Decadence a sensual gathering of fifteen intersected stories of individuals who love, lust, and trade revelations with others about their dreams, fantasies, and personas... —Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review
  • If you're looking for some sort of sin, you've found yourself the right book. All of the stories in Tokyo Decadence are surprising and unique, but they all move toward the same general destination—sex and drugs and blood and tears. ... The collection portrays the Japan of the bubble and postbubble decades as a place where anything in your wildest dreams and darkest nightmares could happen. Murakami's fiction is a love letter to the infinite possibilities of urban life delivered with style and panache. —Kathryn Hemmann, Contemporary Japanese Literature
  • Terrific—funny, quirky, trenchant, and a great deal of fun to read. —Poe Ballantine, author of Love and Terror on the Howling Plains of Nowhere


  • Pages: vii + 273
  • Trade paperback 5" x 8" (127mm x 203mm)
  • ISBN:
    Softcover 978-4-902075-78-6
    Ebook 978-4-902075-79-3
  • Cover: Author

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About the author
Ryu Murakami (村上 龍; 1952–) was not yet 24 when he won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize for his debut novel, Almost Transparent Blue. He has now published some forty best-selling novels, a dozen short-story collections, an armful of picture books, and a small mountain of essays. In his spare time, Ryu hosts a popular and long-running weekly TV show focusing on business and economic topics, and has for many years promoted tours and produced records for Cuban musicians. He has written and directed five feature films, of which Topaz a.k.a. Tokyo Decadence (1992) is probably the best known, and many of his novels have been made into films by other directors (notably Takashi Miike's Audition). Translated novels include Coin Locker Babies (Noma Prize for New Writers), Sixty-Nine, Popular Hits of the Showa Era, Audition, In the Miso Soup (Yomiuri Prize for Literature), Piercing, and From the Fatherland, with Love (Noma Prize for Literature and Mainichi Publishing Culture Award).

About the translator
Ralph McCarthy lives in Southern California. He has translated several novels by Ryu Murakami, including Sixty-Nine, In the Miso Soup and Popular Hits of the Showa Era, as well as works by Yayoi Kusama (Infinity Net: The Autobiography of Yayoi Kusama and Hustlers Grotto), Teru Miyamoto (two of the novellas in Rivers), and Dazai Osamu (Blue Bamboo and Otogizōshi).