I have been reading Colorless Tsukuru by Murakami in Japanese. I came across a sentence where I understand the spirit of what it is saying but can't quite see how it translates. I was wondering if anyone could help me..

The context is that the main character Tsukuru has been going round to old friends houses and has been given the cold shoulder and he can't work out why.. The whole passage is: しかしそれがいったいどんなことなのか、どんなことであり得るのか、いくら考えてもおもい当たる節はなかった。 My understanding is this means: (broken up into sentences)

しかしそれがいったいどんなことなのか However what the heck were these things? (that he is supposed to have done)

どんなことであり得るのか what could it possibly have been?

いくら考えてもおもい当たる節はなかった No matter how much I thought about it I couldn’t pinpoint the exact moment

I'm pretty happy with my translations but I'm not sure about: しかしそれがいったいどんなことなのか

I sort of get what its saying but I'm wondering if anyone is more familiar with this sentence structure. I think its saying "However what the heck were these things?" (that he is supposed to have done)

1 Answer 1


I have just read this part of the novel in the original myself in search of some context (because what the original says matters the most.).

Here is the context/background for the other users.

Tsukuru goes to college in Tokyo, away from his hometown. As he is not very sociable, he has made but a few friends in Tokyo. When he goes home during his school breaks, however, he has good ol' friends (namely, four of them) that he chills out with. When Tsukuru goes home in the summer of his sophomore year, he tries to contact the four by phone. No matter how many times he calls their homes, however, he is told that his buddies are not home by the other family members. Tsukuru starts suspecting that his friends are actually home but want to pretend, for some reason, that they are not.


In the phrase 「しかしそれがいったいどんなことなのか」, 「それ」 refers to 「何か」 that precedes - this (unknown) 'thing' that is happening between Tsukuru and his old buddies. The phrase should be taken literally here. My own TL would be:

"But what the heck this thing was all about"

The "that he is supposed to have done" part of your TL is neither said nor implied in the original.

"But what the heck this thing was all about, and what it could possibly have been, any way you sliced it, it did not ring a bell."

  • Hi l'électeur, thats an exceptional answer! Thanks for your help.Its a different interpretation to what I thought so I'm glad I asked...
    – Rowan
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 3:10

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