20.01.2017 - Penpals Japan: the lonely guitar player from Tokyo

Penpals Japan: the lonely guitar player from Tokyo


Some people live like the aliens on the Earth. They create their own small worlds to feel more or less protected from people around. It is a space of their life, work and creativity.

My penpal from Japan wrote me  once that he feels like a wind or like a ghost among people. He is a clumsy man who can not get along with this chaotic society because he does  not like it. He feels alone in his country where the modern technologies border with miracles.

This 54 years old Japanese man is a musician. Playing the guitar is not his profession or his hobby, it is his life. He draws inspiration from everywhere but the main source of new melodies is love. Deep sounds need deep feelings.

When he  was 19 years old, he  ran away from home and started his independent life. He played the guitar in the streets in Tokyo and in the subway, performed  diversified jobs  in order to survive. After he had already gathered his first musical experiences, he started his career as member of a band that he created with old school friends. In a few years they  became quite popular in certain circles, but nevertheless he decided to leave the band because he already had big plans to become a solo artist in order to show his talent. With this he began sending demo tapes of his songs to several record labels, and one of them agreed to cooperate with him so some of his songs were recorded.

Among other things in 1983 he got acquainted with his future wife. He noticed this fragile girl in a small café. She knew nothing about his music and she was not good at music at all but her beautiful smile won him over. After a few months they got married. By the way, you know the Japanese are very shy so to say "I love you" is a big problem . A marriage proposal usually sounds like: "Will you do my laundry?” or “Will you cook a soup for me?".

At first everything was good because Japanese women tend to know how to care for a family and to raise children but his profession required a constant inspiration which he found in short-term relations with other women. In the end of all, their family broke up. That time his daughter was 12 years old. She was sick, mentally ill and admitted to the hospital. When she was hospitalized, he went to visit  her once. She pretended that she did not recognize her father. She asked only one question: “ Who are you?”. It was like an earthquake.

After these words he left the hospital silently and never saw his daughter again.

Now she is thirty two years old, but he even can not imagine how she looks like.

As for his career, after a successful start, my Japanese penpal had a period of relative calm. It was a period of latent growth and the search for new directions in music. He is interested in jazz and blues but these kinds of music are not popular in Japan. Once he wrote me: “How do you think, my age is suitable to start a new life in USA?”. I answered: “Why not?!”

He plays the guitar in some Japanese cafés now, but his dream is to get a job in USA. In his opinion, people are more free there so he has more chances to be understood.  

Of course, we discuss not only music or private life.
Japan seems to be a fantastic country at a distance but it has its unique features. On the one hand the Japanese are very polite and friendly people but on the other hand, it is quite common if the siblings do not communicate and even do not have phone numbers of each other. Most of the people live a life that is based on materialistic values, so over the years the gap between parents and children have been widening rapidly in Japan.

When I asked him about income, he explained that Japanese are workaholics and the level of their salaries is appropriate. It’s approximately 3.500 Dollars per month. But at the same time, the  prices of food, housing, transportation are incomparably high in comparison with many other countries. And their pensions are usually no more than 300 dollars. The government believes that people have to  take care of their oldness in advance therefore in recent years, retirees prefer to resettle to the cheaper neighboring countries - Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia.

Todays Japan is a crowd of very lonely people. Japanese society is like a powerful anthill so belonging to it is a basis of life for each ant. 



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