In the Eyes of Others: Sokuseki (2)
Fukuyama Masaharu ~Sokuseki~ [1969-2003] (足跡, Footprints)
Book published by the Fukuyama Masaharu Cheering House (福山雅治応援団)
(2) The Early Elementary School Years
Masha went to the Nagasaki Inasa Elementary School (長崎市立稲佐小学校)*, which was just an 8-minute walk from home. At that time, the school premises had not been redeveloped yet into the modern structure that they have today. There was a stone tablet erected between the gymnasium and the main building, as a peace memorial for the people who had been killed in the atomic bombing. Most of the schools around Inasa-yama have similar tablets.
An elementary school classmate: “This tablet was set up to mourn for the children who died at 11:02am on August 9, 1945 in the atomic bombing. At that time, most of the children were in school and there were many schools around Inasa-yama, so the death toll was very high. You’ll see these memorials in most of the schools here. We are people of Nagasaki, and we’ve heard numerous times from our grandparents and parents about the tragic history of the atomic bombing. Perhaps, the reason why Fukuyama is so involved in the Aids cause and has gone repeatedly to a politically-unstable country like Rumania, is because somewhere in his heart, he feels strongly for (human tragedies like) these.”
Another classmate who lived nearby: “Parents here, have very little aspirations for their children to make it big in life. Most of us grew up with little supervision. Fighting was very common and Masha used to be in lots of fights! Whether it was in elementary school, junior high or high school, he was fearless in a fight! But he would never harass the weak and he would rarely be the one to start it.”
Masha (to a very good friend): “I don’t think I’ve ever lost in a fight, not even when I was very young!” This claim was confirmed in person by his school mates from the Inasa Elementary School. “He had really strong wrists! He never lost in arm wrestling, even when he was up against kids who were 2 or 3 years older. The balls he pitched (in softball) were so fast, and when he was punched, he would be able to block and attack in an instant. He was so strong that people said you can’t get away from a fight with Masha without turning black and blue.”
There was a secret to why Masha was so good in fighting. He had been training in karate in a dojo close to home, since elementary school. It was run by fire fighters and taught with a firm hand.
His master at the dojo: “Fukuyama-kun took his training very seriously! He might have looked a bit undisciplined normally, but the moment he donned his karate uniform, he would become very focused and dedicated. Once I heard him say something like, ‘I don’t think anyone would dare challenge me to a fight’, so of course, as a martial arts practitioner, I told him off: ‘You do not learn karate to fight, this is not what martial arts is about.’ He looked at me with an expression that seemed like he partly understood, and partly didn’t. Then he replied, ‘I’ll work very hard in my training, please don’t worry about me’……I can still remember that little boy with such precocious words.”
It appears that Fukuyama-san’s motivation for learning karate, came from a desire to protect himself against his father.
A classmate: “He was always saying that his father would come home drunk in the middle of the night and wake them up. Masha couldn’t understand why his father would do that all the time. ‘When I grow up, I’m gonna overthrow him!’ Even at his young age, he was prepared to stand up for himself.”
In normal families, parents and children wake up in the morning and go to school or work together. But for the Fukuyamas, it was not uncommon to see their father returning home, at the same time as the boys going to school.
A neighbor: “Fukuyama-kun was very respectful to his father. You see, he’s never rebelled against his parents, has he? The sound of laughter that came from that house had never stopped, theirs was a happy family. Oh? Did he really say that? But his father was certainly one who did what he liked before he passed away. You can say he was a fortunate man. And his son is so famous, I’m sure that he’ll feel very happy wherever he is now.”
When we thought about what his classmate had said of Fukuyama-san wanting to beat his father, different visions of this high-spirited father came into our mind. A family where laughter never ceased….this could only mean that, to Fukuyama-san, his father must have been the best and greatest negative example for him and that is why he felt he must surpass his father.
To be continued.
* Offical website of Inasa Elementary School