Thursday, August 25, 2011
Diane, are you really thinking of taking a piano lesson?
Yes, I am.
Well, if so, I’ll tell you about a quite interesting story.
What story?…just tell me.
Soon after I entered one of the middle schools in my home town—Gyoda City in Saitama Prefecture, Emiko played “Maiden’s Prayer” before all the students in the auditorium. I was thirteen years old. Although I had never talked to her before, I had known her for previous six years because she was in the next class of my elementary school.
Was she pretty?
Oh, she was beautiful and charming. Actually she was a princess to me.
In my mind she always looked like a real princess in Paris.
Why is that?
‘Cause her family belonged to the high society in the community, and her family-owned factory was one of the big producers of the Japanese socks in Japan—altogether, the factories in Gyoda produced 80% of the socks in Japan.
What do the Japanese socks look like?
This is a pair of Japanese socks.
How come there is a slit between a toe and fingers?
…’Cause the japanese traditionally used to wear a pair of Japanese clogs.
Are these the Japanese clogs?
Yes, they are.
For what occasion did Emiko play “Maiden’s Prayer”?
I don’t remember exactly what kind of event it was. Anyway, she gave us a superb performance.
Did she really play it like this?
Yes, she did. I had never heard the tune in my life…sounded like the sweet music in Heaven.
Ever since I heard the tune, Emiko has become my idol. When I entered the university in Sendai, I started to play the piano.
Did you take a piano lesson.
No, I didn’t. Instead, I learned to play the piano by myself.
No kidding! Did you learn it by yourself?
Yes, I stayed in a rich family with a grand piano in the suburbes of Sendai.
Oh, my goodness! Sendai is very close to Fukushima, isn’t it?
Oh yes, it is.
So you were exposed to the atomic radiation, weren’t you?
Don’t be silly, Diane. I was in Vancouver when the disaster took place.
Was Emiko in Sendai at the time?
Oh no, she entered a prestigious conservatory of music in Tokyo.
You couldn’t meet her, then.
So I phoned her when I went home on my summer vacation.
I felt competent so that I wanted to play “Maiden’s Prayer” for her.
But you had never talked to her before, hadn’t you?
No, never…but she remembered me.
I don’t believe it. Why on earth did she remember you?
‘Cause she was a top student in the middle school. So was I. You see, Emiko and I were rivals.
Is this a true story, Kato?
Yes, it is. You’d better believe it because I even wrote a story in Japanese about this episode, using her real name.
(Monday, June 19, 2006)
Anyway, I can hardly believe it.
Well, in that case I’ll tell you another amazing story.
Another episode about you and Emiko?
Oh no, this story is my father’s life and death, and the Empress of Japan.
Are you serious?
Of course, I am. My father graduated from only elementary school because, when he was a kid, his family was so poor that he couldn’t afford higher education. So he worked as a school janitor and studied by himself to obtain a teacher’s certificate in music.
Why in music?
My father told me later that music was the easiest subject to obtain a teacher’s certificate because not many people applied for.
I see. And did he eventually get the certificate?
Yes, he did, but soon the war started and he had to fight in Okinama.
Okinawa? You said? The battle in Okinawa was the worst in the World War II, wasn’t it?
Yes, it was.
Shootout on Okinawa
The Last Battle Of WW2
Did you father survive the war.
Yes, of course. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been born after the war. My father was stationed in Miyako Island, which is the fourth-largest island in Okinawa Prefecture. My father survived the war because the US army took a hopping frog strategy, in which they ignored insignificant resistant forces.
So the US army ignored Miyako Island, didn’t they?
Yes, they did.
But tell me, Kato, how on earth your father came to know the Empress of Japan.
You see, she was the first commoner to marry into the Japanese Imperial Family. When she married the crown prince, almost all the Japanese were fascinated by her charm and beauty. Before the royal marriage, the world-famous Yukio Mishima had met her on an arranged meeting with a prospect of marriage. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it.
You mean, your father also met her on an arranged meeting?
Oh no, he didn’t. It’s impossible because my father was living in a different world. Nonetheless, Princess Michiko bacame my father’s idol. My father knew that she loved music—especially, songs for children. So, one day he composed a piece of music based on her poem, and let his pupils sing the song and recorded it on his cassette tape, then sent it to the palace. Princess Michiko seemed to like it. And her secretary wrote a thank-you letter. When he received it, my father literally jumped up and down with a great deal of ecstacy.
Is this a real story, Kato?
Yes, of course, it is. In fact, later, my father and mother built a new house and set up an alcove and placed the letter in the alcove. He said that he would make the letter a family treasure for generations to come.
Amazing! But I can hardly believe it.
Hi, I’m June Adames.
I like a leisurely stroll
while listening to nice music
such as “Sous le Ciel de Paris.”
Sous le Ciel de Paris
by Hideshi Kibi（日本人）
You can find some Japanese musicians in Paris.
Fujiko Hemming also likes Édith Piaf
who sings “Sous le ciel de Paris.”
Sous le ciel de Paris
by Édith Piaf
I like Chanson Française (French song).
How about you?
Kato also love Édith Piaf,
but he considers Juliette Greco’s
“Sous le Ciel de Paris” much beter.
Sous le Ciel de Paris
by Juliette Greco
I believe Yves Montand’s “Sous le Ciel de Paris” is the best of all.
Sous le Ciel de Paris
by Yves Montand
I love Paris, but Vancouver isn’t bad at all.
To tell you the truth, Vancouver is a paradise to me.
Kato thinks that Vancouver is better than Paris.
Here’s a Japanese proverb.
If I translate it literally, it means this:
The lighthouse does not
shine on its base.
It also means this:
The darkest place is
under the candlestick.
I’m pretty sure that your birthplace is a paradise to you.