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A fictitious religious group called the “Sakigake” appears in Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84 (2009-10). The literary critic Taro Miwa described the novel as “a tale of struggle between faith and faith.” On one side, there is “Sakigake,” which is, to borrow Miwa’s words, a “religion with the face of a religion.” On the other is an organization that seeks to assassinate the leader of “Sakigake,” “Fukada,” based on its own beliefs. It is a “religion with the face of a non-religion.”
There have been “Sakigake”-like groups in Murakami’s works written prior to 1Q84. The Ami Hostel in Norwegian Wood (1987) is one such example. Common among them is that they are utopias outside of reality and cut off from worldliness.
Many groups in reality have tried to build such utopias in Japan as well. Examples include Aum Shinrikyo, which served as Murakami’s model for “Sakigake,” and the Yamagishi Society, whose member Atsuyoshi Niijima, served as the model for “Fukada.” Omoto-kyo, repressed on two different occasions in the Taisho and Showa eras for seeking to build a pseudo-state within Japan, is another example of such a group.
Omoto-kyo and Aum did not dream of building a pseudo-state because they were fanatical cults. The desire for a pseudo-state has been repeated in the form of student movements and the Yamagishi Society as well. The practice of reproducing Japan in miniature to resist the state has been repeated often, manifesting both as incidents and representations. 1Q84 is a story that describes this repeating history in the abstract.