Murakami was born in Japan during the post–World War II baby boom. Although born in Kyoto, he spent his youth in Shukugawa (Nishinomiya), Ashiya and Kobe. His father was the son of a Buddhist priest, and his mother the daughter of an Osaka merchant. Both taught Japanese literature.
Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a wide range of works by American writers, such as Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan. These Western influences often distinguish Murakami from other Japanese writers.
Murakami is a marathon runner and triathlete enthusiast, though he did not start running until he was 33 years old. On June 23, 1996, he completed his first ultramarathon, a 100-kilometer race around Lake Saroma in Hokkaido, Japan. He discusses his relationship with running in his 2008 memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.