I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Suppose You Bump Into Your Ex One Day... (Scene 1)

久しぶり。It's been a long time.  Merry X'mas.

Sorry I have not written anything for almost an entire year.  What can I say?  Just plain laziness and lots of things happening, work as well as personal.  It's been a pretty rough 2015, and I can't wait for it to be over.  Meanwhile, looking back on the past year, I think I've still achieved something.  At least, I feel like I've corrected some mistakes, or bad decisions really, that dated back 4 years ago.  I think what I've corrected is going to pave for a better future, or at least that's what I hope.

Before we jump into the topic of the day, a few words about Kouhaku (紅白歌合戦).  First, I'm happy to see new faces for the hosts.  Technically, Haruka-san (綾瀬はるか) is not really a new face since she had hosted before.  On the other hand, if my memory serves me well, it's been a while since they have a new host for the white team that's not called SMAP or Arashi (嵐).  Second, I hope Seiko-san (松田聖子) would redeem herself from her subpar performance last year.  They honor her again as they make her the last red team singer.  I wish her well and hope she doesn't screw up.  Lastly, I like Akina (中森明菜), but I don't hate Matchy (近藤真彦).  I don't know any of his songs because I don't listen to them.  I hold no grudge against him.  So, I also am going to wish him well and a sparkling performance.  Sorry to all Akina fans out there but it's been 26 years since the "incident".  I think Akina herself has already moved on, so I think it's time for all her fans too...  I mean, it's as though you guys got hurt more than Akina herself...

Sometimes, I wonder why such a strong emotional attachment still exists among some of Akina's fans.  In fact, some of harshest critics of Matchy are female fans!  When we fall in love with our idol, are we unconsciously personalizing our idol's experience, albeit filling in a lot of spaces with our own imagination?  When we saw first reports of Akina dating Matchy, did we feel as if we ourselves fell in love with Matchy too?  And therefore when Akina and Matchy finally broke up, did we feel the same outrage and heartbreak as if we were breaking up with our lovers?  Now, 26 years later, when NHK announced that Matchy will be performing at Kouhaku, did it invoke a kind of feeling akin to bumping into our ex-lover?

And so, suppose you bump into your ex one day at a train station or bus stop on your way home after work, what would be your first reaction?  If he/she didn't see you, would you alert him and say hi to him/her?  Or would you rather put your head down, trying to hide from him/her?  What if he/she recognized you and said hi to you?  Would you feel bitter?  Would you feel nostalgic?  Would you secretly glance at his index finger, trying to spot any signs of a wedding ring?  What if he/she deliberately hide his/her hand in the pocket?  Would you feel jealous? Would you have mixed feeling?  And if you're still searching for your true love, how would you feel when you're walking alone towards home that day?

So, here's Midori Karashima's (辛島美登里) story in her song "Ieji" (家路), or "Way Home".

Why are you calling my name?
Didn't we agree that we would not see each other ever again?
Time has stopped for the two of us
While the crowd is hurrying home

The days when there's nothing but love between us
The days when we both hurt the person we cared
"Now that I understand everything, however...."
Those were the last words you softly whispered

Please don't let my memories come back to you, I'm begging you
Your kindness, once again, makes me crumble
Your clothes and hair have changed
But how could this alone suppose to make me forget that it's you?

You're trying to hide the wedding ring in your pocket, aren't you?
I knew it already... but still I can't overcome my endless jealousy
I cannot bring myself to treat this as just two friends meeting coincidentally
On the other hand, I feel a never ending nostalgia

Without asking me anything, you sent me off
There's no one home waiting for me, however
I begin walking under the twilight
As none of us are able to return to those days


Do you have similar experience and feeling like the girl in the song?

In scene 2, Midori Karashima will tell her 2nd story of "Suppose you bump into your ex one day..." through another song of hers.  I hope you don't need to wait too long.  Until then, enjoy this X'mas holiday season.

Once again, Merry X'mas!


  1. Hi, Larry. Good to hear from you again. How's San Francisco? Thanks very much for your article. I think it's certainly something different than anything that has been done on KKP, and that's not bad at all. Your story kinda has a nighttime radio DJ feel to it, especially when you bring in Midori Karashima.

    As for the Kohaku, yes, I've just read that Seiko Matsuda will be singing her signature "Akai Sweet Pea". I like the song of course, but it's a bit odd for her to sing this one at the very end of the show.

    And for your question about how one would react at seeing an old flame, I have not seen my ex in well over a decade, but I'm pretty sure that if she saw me, she would most likely run the other way.:)

    1. J-Canuck, nice to see you again. San Francisco is pretty cold right now. It also rained quite a bit this year, which is a good thing as we lack water. I'm not visiting my parents in Toronto this X'mas, since we went back to Hong Kong together last month. It was an enjoyable trip. Having said that, I'll be traveling to Toronto in February for Chinese New Year. We can find some time to meet at that time.

      Yes, I'm trying something different. I think you described it well, that it's like a nighttime radio DJ. I find it hard to write about music itself because I don't have any training. Sometimes I feel like I'm running out of words. But I think there's story behind each song and so I'm trying to tell that story from my angle. I hope you don't mind the style and the focus.

      Will try to find some Kouhoku video on Internet after New Year. Hope everything is well on your end too. Again, Merry X'mas.

      P.S. I LOL when I saw your last paragraph :)

  2. Hello Larry.

    It's been a while. Hope you had a good Christmas and that you're alright. Glad to know that you still have stuff going for yourself despite having a tough year.

    Anyway, that's an unorthodox article you've got here (for this blog at least), but it's a nice change and I think it's pretty cool. The lyrics of "Ieji" are so heart-wrenching though - if you add drinking whiskey/sake at a bar, it can qualify as enka already :) - and one of the scenarios mentioned, when the character glances at her ex's finger to find a ring, it reminded me of a scene from the last episode of "Tokyo Love Story" where the already married Kanchi bumps former lover Rika after 3 years (I wasn't a fan of that scene as I was rooting for Kanchi and Rika to be together).

    To answer your questions: If I were to bump into an ex one day, I hope we'd at least be able to smile and say "Hi" to one another... or at least acknowledge him. It'd be awkward to just ignore him, even if the split was a messy one. But I can't guarantee that as I have no such experience in the world of romantic relationships; my current thought of that is, "Ain't nobody got time for that!", especially with my time being spent mostly on other stuff.

    As for whether I had any similar experiences, I had an encounter with a former classmate just a few weeks ago. Things didn't go as I had mentioned earlier (smiling and waving), mostly because I couldn't really recognize her at that moment and neither was I close to that person back then.

    By the way, when you mentioned that Matchy and Akina thing, I actually went, "Ooooohh..." It seemed to be a huge deal back in the day. And from experience, I can say that you're very right about the emotional attachment to an artiste one likes... Let's just say that I was disappointed when Aska (my first, what one of my classmate calls, man-crush) from Chage and Aska, whom I thought was a decent fellow, got caught for doing no good last year.

    1. Happy New Year, Noelle. Yes, this is something new that I want to try. The songs I like all have stories to tell, and I'm trying to tell that story. That story could be the story in the lyrics, or the story behind the song itself. Maybe this goes back to my detective novel root, as I love reading detective novels from Japanese when I was small :)

      You wrote that you're about to get out of your comfort zone. I'm looking forward to read that. Your most recent Kohaku piece is very well written. I'm looking forward to see the whole thing. For me, I guess I'll be staying in my comfort zone for a little while writing about Midori Karashima :P

    2. Well, I'll be looking forward to more articles like this then. :) About stories in songs, I also agree that you can fish them out from the lyrics or the music itself. I like to write narratives, and I have been using the music I listen to give me ideas - a scenario from the lyrics, or what the melody makes me "see" and feel.

      Yeah, I'll be putting up an article or two in the near future featuring songs I would have never listened to if it weren't for curiosity or coincidence. Speaking of coincidences, you like detective novels? Wow, I do too. In fact, in the past year I've been re-reading my Mom's collection of this series of murder-mysteries. There's just something fun about following the detective's train of thought that eventually leads to him unraveling the case.

      Thanks for the compliment on the Kohaku article - much appreciated.

    3. Noelle,
      Yes, I'm a big fan of Japanese detective novels (推理小説). I often read Seicho Matsumoto (松本清張)'s novels because their translations were widely available when I was small. I also read a lot of Seiichi Morimura (森村誠一) & Shizuko Natsuki (夏樹静子). I stopped reading them when I came to the US for college. Then in 2001 when I went back to Hong Kong for the first time in 9 years, I picked up again. This time, the authors are different, of course. So far, I like Miyuki Miyabe (宮部みゆき) & Keigo Higashino (東野圭吾). Which authors do you like?

      One reason I've been learning Japanese is that I want to read in Japanese. This way, I'm not limited to what's available in translation.

    4. Detective novels are sort of a recent thing for me - I was more into fantasy (dragons, magic, etc.) when I was younger. It was only in my early teens when I started to pick up that series of books my mom has; it's called "The Cat Who..." series by Lilian Jackson Braun, and since there are many, many books in that series, it's been keeping me occupied (including re-reading them). Another author would be Derek Landy with his "Skulduggery Pleasant" books. It began as a detective mystery in the early books, but as the series came to an end, it became more of an action thriller. Recently I haven't found new books for myself as... well, nothing seems to interest me yet.

      I don't read Japanese novels because of the language barrier (no translations of those I want to read)... Makes me wonder why I still haven't gone to learn the language properly - that'll also help in my understanding of lyrics.

      Oh, and I forgot to mention this is my previous comment: You write well too. :)

    5. Noelle, thanks for your compliments. If you have time, try Agatha Christie's "And then there were none." It's one of the best mystery novels I've ever read.


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