South Manchurian Railway

"Aomame pulled in her chin, kept her gaze fixed straight ahead, her back straight, and her pace steady. Her chestnut-colored Charles Jourdan heels clicked against the road's surface, and skirts of her coat waved in the breeze. April had begun, but there was still a chill in the air and a hint of roughness to come. Aomame wore a beige spring coat over her green light wool Junko Shimada suit. A black leather bag hung over her shoulder, and her shoulder-length hair was impeccably trimmed and shaped. She wore no accessories of any kind. Five foot six inches tall, she carried not an ounce of excess fat. Every muscle in her body was well toned, but her coat kept that fact hidden. (12)


"Aomame figured that a woman drinking alone in a hotel bar could not be mistaken for a high-class hooker on the prowl if she was wearing a business suit, had a big shoulder bag parked next to her, and sat there absorbed in a book about the South Manchurian Railway (a hardcover, no less). In fact, Aomame had no idea what kind of idea what kind of outfit a real high-class hooker would wear. If she herself were a prostitute looking for wealthy businessmen, she would probably try her best not to look like a prostitute so as to avoid either making potential clients nervous or having herself ejected from the bar. One way to accomplish that might be to wear a Junko Shimada business suit and white blouse, keep her makeup to a minimum, carry a big, practical shoulder bag, and have a book on the South Manchurian Railway open in front of her. Come to think of it, what she was doing now was not substantially different from a prostitute on the prowl." (68)

Murakami, Haruki. [Rubin, Jay and Philip Gabriel, trans.]. 1Q84. New York: Vintage International, 2011.

I'm not sure how I feel about this translation, or maybe (dare I say it?) just the writing itself. Lots of repetition and obvious observation. But I like that this suit returns quite a few times. What does it mean to Japanese readers? I guess Shimada had just opened in Paris in 1984, I suppose that must have signaled that Aomame participated in high fashion (which he later clarifies). What does Junko Shimada mean to you? Do you think it's the right choice for practical Aomame? Is it about wearing a Japanese label, or is it precisely Shimada that