[What follows is my translation of a super-short story of Haruki Murakami's, from his collection Night of the Spider Monkey. "These stories were originally part of an advertising campaign commissioned by a Japanese stationary company. The stories, with Mizumaru's accompanying illustrations, appeared as full-page spreads in magazines and as poster adverts on commuter trains. Their short length (1-2 pages, on average) enabled commuters throughout Japan to briefly enter Murakami's fantastic, dream-like world, even if for just a short time, before returning to the bland reality of daily life."]
Up until now, in the process of my life, I have walked side by side with quite a number of women, yet I know of none who walks with such speed as Ms Noriko Takayama (age 25). You can almost imagine her saying, "I've only just been oiled!" as she pumps her arms delightfully back and forth, and with great steps and a fair amount of obvious enjoyment she walks her way. Observing from a slight distance, she looks almost like a water beetle who's been given wings; nimbly and smoothly, when she's walking, she seems as happy as a shaft of sunlight after the rain.
The first time we walked together, just the two of us (we were both going from Sendagaya Elementary School to Aoyama's First District) I was astonished by such swiftness, to the extent that I believed she found being with me a nuisance, and her singular speed was a means to distance herself from me without a moment's delay. Or, alternatively, I postulated that she was, by walking at such a tremendous pace, aiming to calm my sexual appetite (though, of course, since I have in me no sexual longing towards Ms Noriko Takayama, I am unable to say whether or not this method was effective).
That there was no ulterior motive behind her quick pace, and that she walked as if she were flying simply because she liked to do so, I did not learn until several months later. It was at the beginning of winter in front of Yotsuya Station when I saw her walking by herself through a throng of people. Not surprisingly, she was moving across that stretch of earth known for convenience as Tokyo at a ridiculously frightening speed. In her right hand she clutched firmly the strap of her handbag, while the hem of her trench coat fluttered in the wind. She walked with her head held high.
By the time I had taken five or six steps towards her and tried calling out she had already gone far away into the distance, and I was left standing all alone, quite clumsily, like Rossano Brazzi in that Katherine Hepburn movie, Summertime. But I was very happy, because I knew Ms Noriko Takayama had harboured no misunderstandings concerning my sexual appetite.
[Summertime in Japan goes by the name 旅情 (ryojou) which means roughly, I suppose, travel emotion. A quick look in my electronic dictionary informs me it is "the emotion felt when setting out on a journey, or the nostalgia evoked when contemplating past travels." I myself haven't seen Summertime, though I do want to see it now. I inserted Katherine Hepburn's name into my translation, simply to flesh out the sentence, for better scansion, and also because while Haruki may credit his readers with a knowledge of movies equal to his, I do not. So bah.]