- The novel borrows its title from the 1965 song Norwegian Wood (The Bird Has Flown) by The Beatles. Throughout the novel, the characters reference Western rock and folk music.
- One of the favorite books of Watanabe and his older friend Nagasawa is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. But before that book became Watanabe's favorite, he liked John Updike's The Centaur, which he read several times.
- In his initial meetings with Naoko and Reiko at Ami, Watanabe is reading Thomas Mann's novel The Magic Mountain. He is also assessing Beneath the Wheel, the second book of Hermann Hesse.
- When Watanabe visits Naoko at Ami, they reminisce about a time when he and his friend Kizuki took a motorcycle trip to visit her in a hospital a few years earlier. This same story is told at more length in the title story of Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.
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