In the Eyes of Others: Sokuseki (1)
Fukuyama Masaharu ~Sokuseki~ [1969-2003] (足跡, Footprints)
Book published by the Fukuyama Masaharu Cheering House (福山雅治応援団)
(1) The Kindergarten Years
When Masha was 4, he went to the private “Precious Gems Kindergarten” (宝珠幼稚園 Houshu Youchien)*, it was a 20-minute walk from home. The kindergarten was located on the grounds of the Fuchi-jinja (淵神社 Fuchi shrine)** where we could take the cable car (Nagasaki Ropeway) to Inasa-yama. The kindergarten was not big, but it was surrounded by lush green and provided the best learning environment for the children.
Teacher: “Fukuyama-kun, I remember him! He was a very active and lovable child! He’s really open and straightforward, and will let you know exactly what he thinks……I would never have thought that Fukuyama-kun would become a singer and that we would have a celebrity from this kindergarten. It’s amazing how much potential people have!”
Masha (to a reporter friend): “I was very mature already when I was a kid. I think it happened just before I went to kindergarten….my big brother and I used to play with the girls in the neighbourhood. Although my brother was shorter than me, he was very cute and amicable. I asked him once, ‘Which one of the girls do you like best?’ He said, ‘The one from the Tofu shop is nice!’ Actually, I liked her too, but since my brother had said so, I could only step aside. There was nothing else I could do, even though I really really liked her. I think my obstinacy in these areas has continued on today.”
A classmate from that time: “I’ve heard about this too. Masha and his brother were very popular with the girls, because they were both very cute. I know the two of them liked the daughter of the Tofu shop, but what did she think about them?! Masha was the ‘king’ (because he wins every fight) and he was very well-known among the children, as early as kindergarten. But he had a strong sense of justice and would never bully anyone smaller or weaker than himself. In fact, if he saw anyone crying, he’d go over and ask ‘Why are you crying?’, then he’d seek out the one who had bullied the child. This part of him remained unchanged all through junior high and high school.”
The kindergarten held a sumo wrestling match every year. A sumo ring (dohyo) was built in the playground and all the children would take part.
Classmate: “Masha was very strong. He was bigger in size than the rest of us, and stronger too. No-one could win over him in wrestling! He was one of the 5 finalists, but the moment he had to fight against a girl, his strength disappeared! Even he admitted himself: ‘When you’re wrestling with a girl, isn’t it just like hugging her? The moment I touch their soft skin, I lose all motivation to fight….I give up….I’ll just lose the match.’”
Masha (to a good friend): “As I remember, I have never lost once in arm wrestling or sumo….but I just couldn’t fight with the girls in the kindergarten wrestling matches. As long as the opponent was a girl, I would lose. Although I’d get teased by my friends ‘You lost so quickly, you fight just like a girl!’, I just couldn’t go on! She’s a girl, how could you use your full strength to beat her or even think about winning over her?”
His kindergarten teacher: “Oh, I remember that! Fukuyama-kun was very strong in sumo wrestling. He didn’t ever lose as long as he was up against another boy. But he would never fight anyone smaller and weaker than himself, he was like a true man!”
Masha (in his radio broadcast): “I was very popular with the girls, as a kid. But because of my obstinacy, it was very difficult for me to communicate my thoughts to the girl I liked, even when I was with her. In high school, it was rumoured that you could get pregnant if you just talked to me. It gave people the impression that I was a wild multi-timing womanizer……that’s totally untrue!” The Masha who throws out blue jokes in his radio programme, is in fact an entirely different person. In his childhood, he was an introverted and shy little boy.
In his kindergarten autograph book, he had written on top of his drawing: “I want to be a karate master.” According to a good friend, “Ever since Masha was very small, he had learnt karate at the nearby dojo (karate hall). He was always saying ‘I am a boy, so I must become strong!’ or ‘Once I’m strong, if my Father gets unreasonable, I will be able to stop him myself.’ It seems the reason he wanted to learn karate was because his father would often wake the 2 boys up when he comes home drunk in the middle of the night and make them listen to his stories.”
To be continued.