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Haruki Murakami Unpacks His T-Shirt Collection

I usually go to thrift shops searching for old LPs. Thanks to Goodwill and the Salvation Army, I’ve managed to buy quite a few unusual records (jazz and classical music), and at a cheap price, too. When I can’t find any good records, I’ll rummage elsewhere in the store, including the T-shirt section. I figure why not, as long as I’m here. Thrift shops in the U.S. are like amusement parks for me. I can easily spend hours there.

How did you come to possess a Brooklyn Pickle shirt? I’m from Syracuse and have gone to that deli on several occasions.

I had no idea what Brooklyn Pickle meant. I bought it in a thrift shop in the Boston area, if I recall, and I was puzzled for a long time about what sort of place (or store or organization) it was. For the longest time I wondered why, if it’s in Syracuse, they gave it the name Brooklyn. I’m happy to finally learn what it is. I see — so it’s a deli.

I have quite a few T-shirts like that, where I have no clue where they originally came from. Some have baffling messages on them, as well. I guess that sense of mystery is also one of the appeals of a T-shirt collection.

What clothing store do you visit most often?

This is a far cry from a thrift shop, but I like the Comme des Garçons store in the Aoyama neighborhood of Tokyo. It’s such a wonderful clothing store. I can always find a great jacket that goes perfectly with the ragtag T-shirts I’ve gathered. That said, I only go there maybe three times a year.

What is your single most-prized clothing item, T-shirt or not?

I don’t think I’ll be wearing it again, but it’s the T-shirt I got for completing the 1983 Honolulu Marathon, the first full marathon I ever finished. Whenever I see this shirt, it brings back a lot of memories.


This interview has been edited and condensed.

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