Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki: A Quest to Find an Unasked Question

January 31, 2015


Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage


Haruki Murakami

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Publication Date: 12/08/2014

One of the biggest question in one’s life would be: “who will cry at my funeral ?”. The question implies many aspects of human life, especially, a human as a social creature. It implies that at he/she pretty sure that someone will cry in the funeral, and pretty sure that he/she will have a funeral. Who knows ? What if at the time of his/her death, he/she is alone, totally alone. That’s the first, but let’s say most human as a social creature passed the first one, he/she will have at least a funeral.

Then, the second one comes. Among those who manage his/her funeral, will someone cry ? In this case, the question implies on how weak human’s trust is. In a relationship, any relationship, friendship, romantic one, even business relationship, are build based on trust. When you trust someone, you can trust them up to the point until they can see you no more –death. In death, the relationship culminated into a mix of emotion of not being able to see the one who died anymore. Most of them, showing it by crying. Crying is a sign that the bond that bind the relationship is great enough, so that losing the dead person is something hard. When you really trust someone –regarding your relationship with him/her, you don’t have to worry that they will cry at your funeral or not.

This very question linger in the mind of Tsukuru Tazaki, 36 years old, single, a train station designer. A long time ago –by human age-, Tsukuru have a group of friend who always stick together. Kei Akamatsu the Red pine, Yoshio Oumi the Blue sea, Yuzuki Shirane the White root, and Eri Kurono the Black meadow, and Tsukuru Tazaki the maker. If you have a group that always stick together –due to togetherness of doing something- it is normal in that group to give nickname to each member of the group. In this group, their name –except Tsukuru’s- contains a color in their Japanese character. Akamatsu Mr. Red, Oumi Mr. Blue, Shirane Mrs. White, Kurono Mrs. Black, and finally the Colorless Tsukuru. The Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki. While his friends have their own unique characteristics (and colors) Tsukuru always feel that he’s a no-goodie, he is the so-so person, the one that might be good as a striker in a soccer team, because of his lack of presence. He always feel that he is bland. Colorless, as his name suggest in the middle of a colorful group.

It is getting more painful when the group decided to kick him out for no apparent reason. Alone and suicidal, Tsukuru met Fumiyaki Haida, a junior on his university, befriended him, and found many strange things happened when he’s together with him. If you are an avid Murakami reader, then Haida would be Tsukuru’s Colonel Sanders in Kafka on the Shore. He’s the gate to everything weird that’s happening in the story. He told Tsukuru a weird story about a pianist who talks about “death token” that is to be passed when one’s going to die. This story led up to Tsukuru’s strange erotic dream which involves Kuro and Shiro –his old friends-,and finished with a weird homosexual orgasm scene with Haida. Not long after that, Haida gone away and left Tsukuru a set of Années de pèlerinage –years of pilgrimage, A set of recording by French pianist Franz Liszt, that they used to listen together to.

Years passed, until Tsukuru meets his current lover, Sara Kimoto, who told him that he should finish what he have started: the group of colorful friends that left him. Turned out that the group cut off Tsukuru through a phonecall, and Tsukuru never asked why. Finally, Tsukuru began his pilgrimage, starting in Nagoya –his hometown-, asking them one by one, uncovering the truth behind his expulsion from the group, which ended up in an alone trip to Finland.

If you ever have a group of friend, or a clique, this book is definitely for you. It will tell you on how trust is more important than anything in a clique, and how the members should speak their mind if anything goes wrong among them, there should be no secret. If you ever feel really alienized in this colorful world, this book is also definitely for you. Even when you are colorless, you are still somebody, still a part of a society, even a colorless window still have their role at a colorful house, right ? And last but not least, if you have an unfinished burden –especially those which aren’t really your fault-, finish it, before it is too late…

This one is another good piece by Haruki Murakami. Although you wouldn’t find an exquisite adventure like those in Kafka on the Shore or 1Q84, Tsukuru’s Pilgrimage still filled with strange incidents, stories, and dreams. Altogether linked in the major theme of colors.


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