A Fine Day for Kangarooing
A Fine Day for
A Fine Day for Kangarooing
by Haruki Murakami
Translated by Christopher Allison
Inside the fence, there were four kangaroos: one male, two females,
and one baby that had just been born.
In front of the fence, there was no one but her and I. It wasn' t
the most popular zoo around under any circumstances, but to make
matters worse, it was Monday morning. Animals outnumbered visitors
by a fair margin.
Our objective was, of course, the kangaroo baby. It didn't occur to
us that we should look at anything else.
We had read in the local section of the newspaper that a kangaroo
baby had been born about a month before. So, for one month we had
continued to await a morning suitable for going to see the new
kangaroo. One morning, it rained. The next morning, naturally, it
continued to rain. Then, the next day after that, the ground was too
muddy, and for a couple more days an annoying wind was blowing.
Then, she had a painful cavity, and I had pressing business at the
A month had passed in such fashion.
Somehow, I had lost an entire month. When I tried to think of what
had happened to it, I couldn't remember a thing. I felt like I'd
done a lot of things, but I also felt like I'd done nothing at all.
Until the guy had come around collecting for the newspaper at the
end of the month, I didn't realize that a whole month had gone by.
But at last a good kangaroo-viewing morning arrived. We got up at
six, opened the curtains, and confirmed in an instant that it was a
fine day for kangarooing. We washed our faces, finished breakfast,
fed the cat, did a little laundry and, putting on our sun visors, we
Hey, I wonder if the kangaroo baby is still alive, she asked me
while we were on the train.
Yeah, I think so. If it had died, there would have been a newspaper
story or something.
I bet it' s sick and they took it to a hospital somewhere.
That would have been in the newspaper, too.
Maybe it's afflicted with neurosis.
Of course not. The mother. They probably have her locked up inside
some dark room with her baby.
I' m always quite impressed by the range of possibilities that
occurs to girls.
I just have this feeling that if I let this chance escape, I won't
be able to see a baby kangaroo ever again.
You really think so?
Well, what about you? Have you ever seen a kangaroo baby before? No.
Up to now, did you ever believe that you would see one?
I don' t know. It had never really occurred to me.
That's why I'm worried.
But wait a minute, I protested. While everything you've said is
true, I've never seen a giraffe being born either, or a whale
swimming in the ocean. Why is it that now only the baby kangaroo is
Because it's a baby kangaroo, she said. I gave up, and glanced
through the newspaper. I have yet to win a single discussion with a
The kangaroo baby was, of course, still alive. He (or she) had grown
much bigger than in the pictures in the newspaper, and was hopping
around energetically in the kangaroo enclosure. He wasn't so much a
baby anymore as a small kangaroo. This fact seemed to disappoint her
It's like it's not a baby anymore.
It still looks like a baby, I reassured her.
We should have come sooner.
I went to a small shop and bought chocolate ice cream, and when I
came back she was still leaning on the fence staring at the
It' s not a baby anymore, she repeated.
Really? I said, handing her an ice cream cone.
If it was a baby, it would be in it's mother's pouch.
Nodding in acquiescence, I licked my ice cream.
But it' s not.
We spent a moment trying to discern which was the mother kangaroo.
The father kangaroo we identified immediately. He was by far the
biggest and quietest kangaroo there. He had a talent for staring at
the green leaves in the feed box with an expression like a washed-up
composer. The other two were females and had almost the same build,
were almost the same color, had almost the same expression. Which
one was the mother was no laughing matter.
So, one of them is the mother, and one of them is not, I said.
That being the case, which one is not the mother?
I don' t know, she said.
At any rate, the child of that inhospitable kangaroo was running all
over the place, senselessly digging holes in the ground here and
there with it's front legs. He/she seemed to have a life that knew
no boredom. He ran around and around his father, gnawed on a little
roughage, dug holes in the ground, reproved the two female
kangaroos, lay down on the ground, and then got up again and ran
around some more.
Why do kangaroos hop so quickly, she asked.
To escape from their enemies.
Enemies? What kind of enemies?
Humans, I said. Humans kill kangaroos with boomerangs and eat their
Why do baby kangaroos get in their mothers? pouches?
So they can run away together. Babies can't run that fast.
It's for protection?
Yeah, I said. Everybody protects their young.
How long are they protected for?
>I should have gotten all my information concerning kangaroos from
an animal picture book. Then I would have known everything from the
Probably somewhere around one or two months.
OK, so that one's still only one month old, she said, pointing at
the baby kangaroo. It must still get in its mother's pouch.
Yeah, I said. Probably so.
Wow. Wouldn't it be great to get in that pouch?
Yeah, I guess so.
I bet it would be just like returning to the womb.
Of course it is.
The sun had gotten really hot. You could hear the cheers of the kids
playing in the nearby pool. Billowy clouds floated in the summer
You want something to eat? I asked her.
A hotdog, she said. And a Coke.
The hotdog vendor was a young college-age girl, and she had brought
a boom box along with her inside the wagon. I listened to songs by
Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel while I waited for our hotdogs to cook.
When I returned to the kangaroo pen, she said Look! pointing at one
of the female kangaroos.
Look, it got in her pouch.
Sure enough, the baby was tucked away in its mother's pouch. The
stomach pouch was pretty swollen, and just its little pointy ears
and the tip of its tail poked out from the top.
I wonder if he's heavy.
Kangaroos are strong.
Which is why they've been able to survive this long.
The mother kangaroo, standing in that blistering sunlight didn't
have a single drop of sweat on her. She reminded me of a mother
going to pick up the groceries at a supermarket on Aoyama-dori, and
then stopping by the coffee shop for a quick break.
Because they look after their young?
I wonder if he's sleeping.
We ate our hotdogs, drank our Cokes, and hung out in front of the
kangaroo cage. When it came time to leave, the father kangaroo was
still searching around in the feed box for a lost note. The mother
kangaroo and the baby rested their bodies together as one, and that
mysterious other female kangaroo hopped around in the center of the
cage as if she was testing the condition of her tail.
It was the hottest day we had had in a long time. Hey, you wanna go
drink beer? she said.
Great, I said.