The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day

by Haruki Murakami

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 411

Junpei, the protagonist of Haruki Murakami's short story "The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day," is told by his father that he will have only three significant women in his life. Junpei is sixteen at the time, so for a large part of his young adult life, Junpei is cautious about which women he allowed to enter his life in any meaningful way.

While in college, Junpei meets a woman he feels he can trust. He begins to open up his emotions to her. But before he fully admits his love for her, however, the girl falls in love with Junpei's best friend. There goes number one, he thought, and he became even more protective of his feelings. He had only two more women left, according to his father's theory.

Junpei meets and dates several other women through the years. But he is emotionally unattached. He dates women he senses will be easy to break up with; as soon as the women expose a flaw, Junpei leaves.

Without expecting it, when he is in his early thirties, Junpei becomes impressed with another woman whose name is Kirie. She is attracted to Junpei because he is a writer. She likes that he has an artist's imagination.

Kirie and Junpei meet several times over the next months. One night, Kirie asks Junpei what story he is working on. Junpei tells her that he is stuck and is not writing. So Kirie asks to hear the unfinished story, which Junpei reads to her.

In this unfinished story, the protagonist is a surgeon. One day, she finds a kidney-shaped stone and takes it back to her office. She places the stone on her desk. But every day when she arrives at her office, the stone is sitting someplace other than where she left it.

This is where Junpei gets stuck. He does not know why the stone is moving. Kirie suggests that the stone's mysterious movements are happening because his life needed to be shaken up.

Kirie, readers can assume, is like that stone.  When she mysteriously disappears, Junpei's life is also shaken up. At first he is distracted, but later, Kirie's absence helps to intensify Junpei's ability to concentrate on his writing.

Murakami is an award-wining author of short stories and novels. He is very popular both with Japanese and Western readers. "The Kidney-Shaped Stone That Moves Every Day" was published in the highly acclaimed short story collection, Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, published in 2006.

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