In the Miso Soup

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In the Miso Soup
In the Miso Soup Cover.jpg
Front cover of the current English translation of the novel, published by Bloomsbury
Author Ryu Murakami
Original title イン ザ・ミソスープ
In za Misosūpu'
Translator Ralph McCarthy
Cover artist Kirk Richard Smith, design, Chas Krider, photographer (US paperback edition)
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Genre Philosophical novel
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (UK)/Penguin (US)
Publication date
Media type Print (Paperback)
Pages 192 pp (UK paperback edition), 216 pp (US paperback edition)
ISBN 0-14-303569-X (US)
0-74757-888-5 (UK)
OCLC 61520482
895.6/35 22
LC Class PL856.U696 I513 2006
Preceded by Kyoko
Followed by Strange Days

In the Miso Soup (イン ザ・ミソスープ In za Misosūpu?) is a novel by Ryu Murakami. It was published in 1997 in Japanese, and in English in 2003. The novel won the Yomiuri Prize for Fiction in 1997.

Plot summary[edit]

Twenty year-old Kenji is a Japanese "nightlife" guide for foreigners — he navigates gaijin men around the sex clubs and hostess bars of Tokyo. On December 29 he receives a phone call from an American named Frank, who seeks three nights of his services. While Kenji has promised to spend more time with his girlfriend, sixteen year-old Jun, the money is too good to pass up. He finds himself closing out the end of the year accompanying Frank around Shinjuku, wondering if his strange, plastic-skinned patron could be responsible for the gruesome events recently reported in the news.


Major characters[edit]

  • Kenji: A nightlife guide based in Tokyo. He is an average English speaker who specializes in touring foreigners through Kabuki-cho. As mentioned, Kenji is the narrator of the story.
  • Frank: An American tourist who contracts Kenji's services. Frank disturbs Kenji from the outset, and is the antagonist.

Minor characters[edit]

  • Asami/Madoka: A "special services" hostess at a peep show.
  • Jun: Kenji's sixteen year-old girlfriend.
  • Maki: Female patron/prostitute at the omiai pub. She claims to not be a prostitute, but also claims to be a high price call girl.
  • Noriko: A tout for the omiai pub and former juvenile delinquent.
  • Reika & Rie: Two lingerie pub hostesses.
  • Satoshi: A lingerie club barker and acquaintance of Kenji's.
  • Yokoyama: Publisher of Tokyo Pink Guide. The only publication Kenji advertises in, and Frank's sex industry bible.
  • Yuko: Female patron/prostitute at the omiai pub. She is seated with Frank, Kenji, and Maki.

Murder victims outside the narrative[edit]

These characters are mentioned to drive the narrative. They are not seen or interacted with.

  • Akiko Takahashi: A seventeen year-old high school sophomore.
  • John Doe: A homeless man.

Real people mentioned[edit]

There are several musicians discussed by the characters and songs are used in the narrative.

Potentially real people mentioned[edit]

  • Danamo Masorueda: According to Frank, a Bulgarian pianist who played with Kenny Burrell. Frank says at one point that his last name is Masorueda. Frank goes on to say Danamo's grandfather was a "sorcerer for a heretical sect called the Bogomils."[2] This is likely one of Frank's stories, as the only mention of Danamo Masorueda is from In the Miso Soup.


  1. ^ Takako OKAMURA
  2. ^ p101 of the Penguin US paperback edition.