7. Mysterious Women
Murakami's protagonists tend to follow a common archetype: young, interested in art, living incredibly mundane lives, and usually either divorced or becoming involved in a relationship with a woman, all of whom leave a huge impact on the hero's life and are often a reason for the strange journey they undertake.
In Killing Commendatore, for instance, the nameless artist protagonist goes through a literal metaphorical journey as he copes with being separated from his wife. Likewise, Norwegian Wood sees its protagonist reminisce on how relationships with two different women during his college days has forever changed his life.
While some have criticised the author's female characters as existing only to fulfil sexual roles for the male characters (although Murakami has argued that his characters aren't that complex), Murakami's women nevertheless play major roles in the scope of his stories. Whether as a motivation for undertaking the characters' journeys or as oracles guiding them to their fates (Malta in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle), these mysterious women are instrumental in Murakami's fiction.
Perhaps there's no better place to see the significance women have in his tales than in the short story collection Men Without Women where he elegantly explores themes of alienation and loneliness.