Tokyo Tower: Chapter 3 Part 1
Tokyo Tower ~ Me & My Radio, & sometimes My Mom ~
(A semi-autobiography by Fukuyama Masaharu)
1987 Summer From Nagasaki to Tokyo
A pizza delivery man in Shinjuku, met Antionio Inoki-san but was fired after 3 months for not fitting in with the cosmopolitan image. Did I start my music?
An unplanned diversion into physical labour work, built the foundation for the old J-wave building, but quit when they held up my pay. Could I start my music now?
An unexpected job at the lumber factory nearby. Still no music.
Then 1988 Autumn Amuse 10th Anniversary Movie Auditions
“One more to add, Fukuyama Masaharu, 19 years old.”
Is it tonight (in this chapter) that the breathless young man in wooden clogs will appear at the final auditions venue with his guitar?
This is the remarkable story of the 18-year-old who set out from his hometown Nagasaki and became “Radio’s National Treasure” in Tokyo 20 years later.
I was very happy at the lumber factory. All I had to do was to fill a 2-tonne truck with the wood needed to build a house (ひっぱり hippari) and drive it to the site. I could do my job by just following the shapes I see, and soon, the house would be finished. I got paid for the amount of effort I put in. It was truly the type of physical work that can be understood at a glance. This straightforward job gave me a sense of fulfillment.
The factory owner had 3 lovely daughters. He once said to me, “You can pick any one you want!” His wife was a typical boss’ wife. “You need to have a good soak occasionally!” She would often tell me. That high-class cedar bath tub just made me want to cry out “This lumber factory is no joke!” It was one of those grand tubs which are hard to find nowadays. After my bath, “Quickly go eat now!” The boss’ wife had already prepared my dinner. This was the first time after I came to Tokyo, that I had could feel a sense of ‘warmth’.
Thinking back to the times after I arrived in Tokyo, ”if I have good exam results, my dad would get me a car” - the pizza place colleague told me; the scaffolding construction boss tried to swindle my wages off me. Not everything that happened was good. But ever since I came and had to work for my survival, here in Tokyo for the first time I felt happy.
And since the boss had said so, why don’t I just choose one of the three sisters and inherit the lumber factory, that would have been nice. And that was what I thought, until one day.
Dusk, the tune of a western song was flowing from the radio. On the way home together, Nakanishi-san (中西さん) the only good man (優男) in the lumber factory, suddenly said to me, “I heard you want to play music?”
“Y…yes, but having said that…..I’ve been getting used to this place lately. How should I put it…..this kind of life, it doesn’t seem too bad.” Although I had said it very ambiguously, it was truly what I felt in my heart at that time.
“Actually, I had my debut once. As an Enka singer (演歌).”
I couldn’t hide my surprise on hearing Nakanishi-san’s confession.
“It was really hard at that time. There were many things I hated. I couldn’t bear with it and so gave up my singing. Now whenever I see my companions from that time, singing on TV, I would think if only I had just endured it for a bit more, it would have been so good if I could have continued singing….”
Thinking about it now, Nakanishi-san’s situation was a bit like mine, coming to Tokyo to pursue our music but missing our past life and hometown. To me, Nakanishi-san’s unintentional words helped me see through why I was “passing everyday happily, but still feeling that something was missing.” It gave me back my spirit. “Before I pass the rest of my life in this lumber factory, I’ve got to give it a try.”
My heart has returned.
Yes, back to “music”, my starting point.
An aquaintance at the lumber factory, once an Enka singer, Nakanishi-san’s words brought my heart back into “music”, my starting point. However, I had no idea how to begin. If I had known of a way to “start music in Tokyo”, I would have tried it long ago. I was up against a brick wall.
Then the friend I was living with, got picked up by a scouting agent in Harajuku. In the pamphlet he brought back, I saw the huge pictures of “Yoshinaga Sayuri-san (吉永小百合) shaking hands with the president of the agency”.
“But it’ll cost ¥300,000 to take lessons first….,” he said, “even so, I still want to give it a try!”
“Where are you going to get the money?”
“I’ll borrow it from my parents. I need to try!”
Because we were in opposite day and night shifts, it was some time before we could see each other again. Apparently, he did pay those expensive fees and proceeded to attend his lessons with persistence. In Tokyo, does it really need to take so much time and money to be an actor?
“So, what are you actually doing now?” I asked out of curiosity.
“They said, ‘Just go finish your classes first.’ So, I’m working as a waiter in the meantime. The girl who was scouted at the same time as me, is working as a hostess.”
“That’s……in a nightclub, you mean?”
If Tokyo is a place full of opportunity, then it is also a place where things rarely go as planned. Anyhow, regardless of whether he was really being conned, the fact that he was “picked out by a scouting agent in Tokyo”, made me really jealous. In Tokyo, his looks were acknowledged. Compared to him, I wouldn’t have been singled out if I were in the street. Besides, I have a body built for hauling wood, I’m comfortable in this lumber factory, I was more or less resigned to spending the rest of my life here.
“I wonder if my looks would be acknowledged in Tokyo? I’d like to try it out.” I’m not sure when I started harbouring these thoughts.
But that very question was on my mind when I first heard of the “Amuse 10 Movie Audition”. I was occasionally, very occasionally, watching the TV idol programme “Bishoujo Gakuen” (美少女学園)* when I saw the commercial.
“I wonder if my looks would be acknowledged in Tokyo? I’d like to try it out.”
So the opportunity that arose for me to decide to join the audition, was granted by “Bishoujo Gakuen”.
~ Continue to Chapter 3 Part 2 ~
* “Bishoujo Gakuen” was an entertainment show by TV Asahi which ran on Sundays 12pm ~ 12:45pm between 1987.11.01 to 1988.04.03. Contents were part-fiction and part-reality, following the development of a number of girls in a “School for Stars” and their climb to stardom. Bishoujo - Pretty Girl; Gakuen - School
Tokyo Tower Series
Chapter 1 (I / II) ………. Chapter 4 (I / II) ………. Childhood Chapter
Chapter 2 (I / II) ………. Chapter 5 / 6 / 7 ………..Mother’s Day Chapter
Chapter 3 (I / II) ………. Final Chapter (I / II)
Translated from Fukuyama Honne (Articles 405, 406 & 407)
Original posted on ANN TamaRadi blog 2007.03.27 written by Fukuyama Masaharu
This English translation was first posted on MashaPlus [dot] Info Forums. (Registration required to enter.)