Thursday, December 13, 2018

Early 1980s Japan: In the Days When I was Invisible...


Years ago (like 30 ~  35 years ago) there were VERY few foreigners in Japan.... And the few that were here, couldn't speak Japanese all that well. Oh sure, there were a few who could speak Japanese, but they were on TV!

Back in those days, I'd take my wife or girlfriend to restaurants. Being a pig-headed foreigner I had taken it upon myself to teach the Japanese nation that some of us foreigners could speak Japanese! There were a few other foreigners back in the eighties who had the same mission...


Two thumbs up!...

I'd order in Japanese. Something simple like, "I'll have two beers please!" and the waitresses wouldn't look at me. REALLY. It used to drive me crazy. I'd say it very clearly and slowly so they could understand, but, they'd give me a sideways glance, I'd say, "Two beers, please!" and the waitress would slowly turn her head to my wife or girlfriend (it's complicated, OK?) as if to say, "What did he say?"

You, see, there weren't any foreigners here. And if there were, they didn't speak any Japanese. So the waiters and waitresses didn't know what to do! They had never seen a foreigner in "real life" so they didn't expect that you could speak even basic  Japanese. Really. 

I'd order and they would look startled at me and then look at my wife or girlfriend like, "What the heck did he say? I don't speak English!" This would make me mad. 

I mean, I even asked my partner if my pronunciation was good and they'd tell me it was fine! 

I insisted that when we went to restaurants, that my partner say nothing. Or say, "What are you looking at me for? He's the one talking to you?" 

But I digress... I'd say something like, "Wait! Stop! Can you see me? Can you see me? Am I here?...." My arms flailing away at my face and body, touching myself to make sure I was actually "there."

Then my girlfriend would say something like, "Yes, I can see you and hear you" (I trained them well).

Then I'd act and say something like "What a relief! I thought I was invisible again!" Then I'd order again..... 

The waitresses usually got used to it after 2 or 3 times. 

Anyway, that's the way it used to be back in the day! I'll bet it's still that way in the countryside!


...So I can gouge out my freaking eyes!


POSTMORTEM:

The jokes on me, though... You see, The Japanese don't throw fits in public, so when I'd be yelling, "Can you see me? Can you see me?" the waitresses would probably have been be thinking, "Wow! There was a foreigner today who was asking me if I could see them! It was so weird!" 

Really. True story. Happened MANY MANY times. 


Thanks to Stephen David Brooks.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Top 50 Videos for 2018! (#26 ~ #50!)

This is part two of the Top 50 Videos for 2018! (#26 ~ #50!) Part 2 and we try harder!
You can see Part 1 here: Top 50 Videos for 2018! (#1 ~ #25!) https://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.com/2018/12/top-50-videos-for-2018.html

Check these hot tunes!

#26) THE PATS PATS -”AnoLuck”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qib51uSm85c
The Pats Pats are Akiko and Midori and they are fab!




#27) Upsahl – Kiss Me Now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_E7f3F0Kaw
A confident, doe-eyed paean to the anticipation of a first kiss from a talented artist just months out of high school.

#28) The Tearaways - Bash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7HX28ihlBk
Beatleweek Hall of Fame Band, Mathew Street, Liverpool, U.K. 2012... From Santa Barbara!


#29) Sesame - Na Na Land: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=idPfEuNNlWg
This year's version of "Japanese rock band doing Britpop better than the brits do!"




#30) Samehada Shiroko & Dynamite – Moshi Yokattara: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV7NePEIJ9o
Hot band from Fukuoka! 




#31) The Reckless Drifters - "Baby, We're Really in Love"  
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MzxIbILDb8&list=OLAK5uy_n7YqSR91_hGtVaeVWCM1bzZUcRiolORCo
From L.A. Lots of famous people in this band.


#32) Parsnip – Health:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdAiZHkmAOA
Queen Wave!

#33) The Stephanies – HACONIA:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNIPXaQsMp0
Award-winning Japanese girl's band!

#34) Voiid – Cheap Wine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOwqThjpfsU
A four piece of hellish girl-shriek guaranteed to make your face melt and your boyfriend cry!

#35) Les Stores – Non, non, non, non: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taMN4wf0JrE
It’s a solo project by Frédéric Martinez. With «les Stores» he plays all instruments. All music is written, recorded and produced in his home studio.




#36) Pip Blom – Babies Are A Lie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xusKQJX12Z4
We are Pip Blom. We are from Amsterdam.


#37) The Routes - Driving Round in Circles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH6WfVZ4tCE
No gimmick, no bullshit... Stomp'n'Grind Garage Rock, Garage Punk, Surf, Rhythm and Blues, Psych... Whatever the hell WE want to hear!



#38) EDWOODS - “MONSTER TRASH”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0T8MM5bGw9g
Trash Rock`n`Roll Trio From Tokyo. Garage Punk, Hardcore Rock`n` Roll For You !!

#39) Cabbage – Kevin (Skeleton Key Mix)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQtlPYceQ2o
Apocalyptic Sprautrock from Mossley.

#40) FAZERDAZE - Take it slow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cjpAz5iUnA
Best thing out of New Zealand since the Jean-Paul Satre experience?

#41) Kate Sikora - The Hundreds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhDWSh5g87s
Like a ping pong ball, native New Jersian, Kate Sikora, has been crossing the globe for the past 7 years charming American and Japanese audiences with her indie-folk-pop tunes. 



#42) Rochelle Vincente Von K - Valley Ov Fire:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsQf_KMbIGU
Austrian/Australian vocalist Rochelle Vincente Von K is one half of electronic duo Product.01, and has worked with Ursula 1000, Dubstar, Dave Clarke, Chicks On Speed to name some. 


#43) Spam69 - Hang On: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQfjkPaj2zk
Band from Japan. Loud. Crazy fcukers... Watch the video.

#44) Silke Berlinn & The Addictions - Ball & Chain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdFPYdZ2T2Q
Silke Berlinn, a proto-punk" vocalist known for her broad-ranging vocal style, has been called “the Janis Joplin of punk rock” and has been compared with Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes and Tina Turner.



#45) Juanita Banana - Glutamato: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KL-MTix154Q
Garage, surf, rock and roll girls band from Madrid.

#46) King Cornelius & the Silverbacks - I Am Great Ape! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIzTLqrsVAU
The Silverbacks captured King Cornelius in the hope of making him serve them. Discovering that he was an ape of enormous entertainment potential, they made him their leader and formed a musical combo.

#47) B-Girls - Down at the Beach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-u5Vmg_VDI
The 'B' Girls are a Canadian all girl rock'n roll band that formed in 1976 and recorded on Bomp Records. They moved to NYC in 1977 and toured w the Clash. Their final radio appearance in Japan was on my show!



#48) Marc Platt: "Woman Of The World": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PdT3Bq9RECY
Marc Platt has been a singer-songwriter playing in and around Los Angeles since 1980.



#49) Monsieur Blumenberg - Anarchy In The U.K.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMMZJUkZeA0
Monsieur Blumenberg is the nom de plume of Federico Montefiori, twin brother of Francesco, and one half of Italy’s legendary lounge duo, Montefiori Cocktail


#50) Ace Of Spades (Link Wray) by the Fabulous Johnk Wray: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlvaq31Z3VM
One man band sensation from Japan. Wild! Trash! Cult Garage Rocker!!


That's it for this year! Have a great holiday season. Drive safely! 
You can see Part 1 here: Top 50 Videos for 2018! (#1 ~ #25!) https://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.com/2018/12/top-50-videos-for-2018.html



Friday, December 7, 2018

Top 50 Videos for 2018! (#1 ~ #25!)


The year 2018 is almost over. It's been a wonderful year and full of surprises. Here are this year's Top 50 songs (videos where available). These are all songs from Oct. of 2017 to today!

Hope you enjoy them and have a great 2019!

(See chart for #1 ~ #25 here: Top 50 Videos for 2018! (#26 ~ #50!) https://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.com/2018/12/top-50-videos-for-2018-26-50.html



#1) The 50 Kaitenz - 11:55: https://amzn.to/2zP40fo
This song is the song of the year for 2018. Unfortunately, there is no Youtube video link for this track. Here is a link to the Japanese site so that you can check it out: 
https://amzn.to/2zP40fo


#2) Miss World - Put Me in a Movie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RpuxPcp_A8
Hey! She just moved to Los Angeles and had a meeting with Rodney Bingenheimer!



#3) The Professionals - Rewind: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2lR5Y1Ycl8
Paul Cook (former Sex Pistols) is back with a world tour with his new unit and it's fab! 



#4) Su凸ko D凹koi - Yuuto: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB6GyzQNM-4
Japan's best all-girl punk band hits 2018 with another hit!


#5) Starbenders - While I Was Sleeping: 
Hot new act from Atlanta, Georgia. Achieved a Japanese release and toured Japan in 2018! World's first on air was my show!



#6) Caroline Rose – Bikini:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZYtOBkICDg
Caroline Rose broke onto the scene in 2018!

#7) Daisy House – Let’s Do It Again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CSLUCvhqMw
Duo from Hollywood had several tracks on our countdown this year!


#8) Sugar & Tiger – Linda Ramone:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5GhSNQxXus
Hot act from Pairs France!

#9) Elmo Weber – Bali Hai: Immigrant Song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0Y1pIAVMAw
Awesome track that is probably the most popular of the new radio show! 


#10) Pen Friend Club - Kimi to Boku no Melody: https://amzn.to/2RG0hI6
This song has no video. Here's a direct link to listen online to Amazon Japan. Fantastic track!


#11) The Van T’s – Bittersweet: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apAv_YL0C6A
The Van T’s are the West of Scotland 4-piece!

#12 Hayley and the Crushers – “Blue and Green”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaEMAkVUBp4
Hayley & the Crushers are gas station candy, drive-ins, slurpees, slip-and-slides, beach parties!

#13) Titty Twister – Bad Man / Connection: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnQIzsre_Uk&t
Titty Twister, from Fukuoka City Japan, was formed in 2002!


#14) PATO FU –  Private Idaho:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grQuf-Jfv7c
Twenty-two years passed. We're still the same band. We're not the same band anymore.




#15) IDestroy – Lemons: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNzP30FPPPs
IDestroy really have delivered the goods with their second EP, an explosion of riotous energy that makes you want to get up and throw something, or possibly yourself, across the room." - Kerrang! Magazine



#16) Starcrawler – I Love LA:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR6n23_fL3o
They will kill you!



#17) Rosegarden Funeral Party – Another Dead Soul: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JFeNMUB7Bw
Rosegarden Funeral Party is a post punk band from Dallas, Tx fronted by Leah Lane.



#18) THE MOST – Gatecrashers! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzMJFedZDwkThe Most is a Beat band from Umeå, Sweden. 



#19) VOIID – Silly Girl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmwfZgHCG3k
a four piece of hellish girl-shriek guaranteed to make your face melt and your boyfriend cry.



#20) Pale Waves – There’s A Honey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfPZ6hukcw8
From Manchester!



#21) Jail Guitar Doors - Raise Your Flag: https://youtube/zx3WW2wLfDA
Very cool rock band from Japan new album out June 9th!

#22) REWS – Miss You In The Dark https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3_yANUsmac
High Energy Alterna-Rock Pop Female Duo consisting of songstress Shauna Tohill & beat-maker vocalist Collette Williams.



#23) The Neatbeats – Bye Bye Very Good: https://youtube.com/watch?v=LqPd4XcsIJE
The main actors in the just-released Rock N Roll fave movie: Ghostroads - A Japanese Rock N Roll Story!




#24) Dog Party – The Walk:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eK0dEat_nhQ
Sacramento and SLO's rock 'n' roll duo, Dog Party!



#25) Amyl and The Sniffers – Cup Of Destiny  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M46RU_JEoTw
Rock n Roll, Pub punk Record Label Flightless Records from Melbourne!



Well that's the Top 25! But there's just as many cool songs on the rest of the Top 50 from next week! Be here! 

Thanks! - Mike

(See chart for #1 ~ #25 here: Top 50 Videos for 2018! (#26 ~ #50!) https://modernmarketingjapan.blogspot.com/2018/12/top-50-videos-for-2018-26-50.html

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Merry KFC: KFChristmas in Japan


Merry KFChristmas!

It's Christmas in Japan. In Japan, Christmas is not a holiday. So get to work!

In Japan, we don't really celebrate Christmas like you do in the west. People here just use Christmas as another excuse to shop, drink and eat chicken.

In Japan, less than 1% of the entire population is Christian, so Christmas is not really a religious holiday here. 

The Japanese, for the most part aren't very religious, actually. Oh, they have religion and religious ceremonies; they just don't seem to follow any particular religion... I can't exactly say what religion the Japanese are. Most Japanese can't even tell you what religion they are; they will claim they are Buddhists, but they have marriages at Christian churches or Shinto shrines. 

Approximately 80 percent of Japanese people get married in a Shinto or Christian ceremony. About 90 percent hold Buddhist services for a funeral ceremony. For them, Shintoism plays the role of governing the joyous side of life and Buddhism resides over past life of the family. Christianity is fun and they become Christians (sort of) for one day at Christmas just long enough to buy presents and eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Which, eating KFC at Christmas is, as we all know, an integral part of Christian Doctrine concerning Christmas.

Well, at least in Japan it is.

That's right. In Japan, eating KFC at Christmas is an ages-old tradition (OK, well, the "ages old" part isn't exactly true...) But the eating KFC part at Christmas in Japan certainly is. Don't believe me? Well, maybe you'll believe the Smithsonian:

Christmas isn’t a national holiday in Japan—only one percent of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian—yet a bucket of “Christmas Chicken” (the next best thing to turkey—a meat you can’t find anywhere in Japan) is the go-to meal on the big day. And it’s all thanks to the insanely successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas!) marketing campaign in 1974. 

When a group of foreigners couldn’t find turkey on Christmas day and opted for fried chicken instead, the company saw this as a prime commercial opportunity and launched its first Christmas meal that year: Chicken and wine for ¥2,920 yen ($10)—pretty pricey for the mid-seventies. Today the christmas chicken dinner (which now boasts cake and champagne) goes for about ¥3,336 yen ($40). And the people come in droves. 

Many order their boxes of ”finger lickin’” holiday cheer months in advance to avoid the lines—some as long as two hours. 

Today, in 2018, it's not true that you can't buy turkey in Japan anymore. You can; you just need to live in a big city like Tokyo or Osaka; near foreigners where they have an international supermarket. 

There, you can find turkeys.... I mean turkeys as in "birds," not flaky people.

But, from my experience, most Japanese don't really like the smell or taste of turkey. At least, not in the 20 or more times I've invited them over to my house for roasted turkey.... And I think I do know how to roast one the correct way: I was taught by a former chef from a famous French Restaurant in New Orleans on how to roast a turkey....

Anyway, in Japan, people do two things at Christmas; one is they eat chicken. And the other one is they go out to dinner with their boyfriend or girlfriend; staying home to eat with family is unheard of. 

At my house, we always eat at home and have a family party and invite a few friends over; usually folks who are away from home and have no family to spend time with. 


This year's Thanksgiving Turkey, er, I mean Chicken.

Since turkey is expensive, a pain in the ass to prepare, and I have to drive an hour back and forth just to get one; we stopped with the turkey last year and started to eat chicken at my house too.

It seems though, in Japan, for everybody else, chicken is and always will be an integral part of the Christmas dinner scene. 

For these 30+ years I've lived in Japan, KFC has dominated. But, recently I have been noticing other companies are starting to make an effort at getting into the Japanese Christmas Chicken pie. On the train the other day, I saw some disgusting looking Christmas chicken being peddled by Family Mart, a major convenience store chain.

If you thought KFC was bad, then you haven't lived until you've brutalized your taste buds with convenience store fried chicken. Yeech!


Seriously. Look at that chicken. It looks like that "Shake N Bake" crap I hated as a kid.  
And just what kind of bizarre "culinary" concoction are those two rectangular objects laying on the plate at the left of the black bucket?... Fried plastics? 

But, the good news is that, in Japan, finally, whole roasted chicken made by mom (or dad) at home have finally started to become popular. I went to the big "OK Store" yesterday (kind of like a Ralph's grocery store in the USA) and saw rows of whole chickens for roasting. I asked the clerk about it as I had never seen them in any year previously (usually, on any given day, they only have one whole chicken for sale), and he told me that they had them until today, December 25th. How nice!


Whole chicken in a rack at OK Store

Finally people can have a Christmas dinner at home... That is, if they have an oven. Which many Japanese homes do not; definitely old apartments don't.

It's weird that the KFC colonel is responsible for single handedly getting the Japanese to eat chicken at Christmas... That's great, I suppose. It's even better that this tradition has indirectly lead to the Japanese people starting to stay home on Christmas to have dinner with the family.

Thanks KFC.... For the Christmas chicken in Japan tradition...

Merry Christmas to everyone else!

May all your dreams come true in 2019! God bless!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Aerosmith and Me. A True Story.


I just realized that today is April 1st, so you guys will think this is a joke, and won't believe this is a true story (people who know me well, will know it is). But, I swear to god, strike me dead, that this is absolutely 1000% a true story. 

About twenty years or so ago (maybe a little more), I used to appear on a TV show (on Music-On-TV) with still-to-this-day famous VJ in Japan, George Williams. 

George interviewed artists as himself, of course, but I participated in the interviews as "the Masked DJ." 

I kept my Masked DJ true identity a secret and wore a pro wrestling full-head mask to conceal my identity. The Masked DJ's schtick was that his super-powers helped him to rid the world of crap music.

There was, and still is, a lot of that.

On that show, we often interviewed some the most famous bands and artists who came to Japan. George would ask the normal questions and I would ask stuff from out in Left Field. (Not like regular Japanese TV shows where they ask incredibly stupid questions like, "What is your favorite color?" or "Can you eat with chopsticks?")


No. Of course, there are no photos with the Masked DJ. Even if there were, you wouldn't recognize him. He wore a mask. This photo is fake but this recollection is not.


One day, the entire gang from Aerosmith were on the show. We got to do the interview on nationally broadcast TV.

George was asking the Aerosmith guys about their new album and tour. I was asking Steven Tyler all sorts of stuff; like if he was getting longer nose hairs as he was getting older (I could relate).

The interview went great. Towards the end of the interview, the Masked DJ asked the question that everyone in the nationally broadcast TV show in Japan was eagerly anticipating. 

The Masked DJ said to Aerosmith: "Wow! I'm your biggest fan in Japan. I go way back with you guys. All the way back to high school! I have all your records too! But there is one question I have that I'd like to ask since you aren't wearing your makeup..."

The boys from the band furrowed their brows and listened patiently and the Masked DJ said, "...So, the question I'd like to ask is, er, which one of you guys was the cat? And which one of you guys had the star on your eye?... And which one had the bouffant and super long tongue? And..."

As the Masked DJ was asking the questions, he could see Steven Tyler's face turning red, his cheeks beginning to quiver, his eyes starting to bulge out, and what looked like steam coming out from his ears and nostrils...

Just as Tyler was about to explode, Joe Perry and the other guys burst out laughing and laughing. Joe Perry was howling and said, "I was the one with the star on my eye!" and other members started joining in, "I was the cat! I was the cat!" 

Soon, even Steven Tyler calmed down and realized it was a big rock n roll joke and started singing.

I am now proud to say that I believe that am the first (and only?) person in rock n roll history who got Aerosmith to sing the Kiss song, "I wanna rock n roll all night, and party every day!" on nationally broadcast television. 

Judging by Steven Tyler's initial reaction, I am sure I will be the last too. 

Later on, when the show was over, walking out of the dressing room, sans wrestling mask, the Masked DJ (in real-life then mild-mannered Mike Rogers) overheard Joe Perry insisting to their manager, "Now THAT'S the kind of interview we wanna do in Japan!"

I have no doubt in my mind that if you ask the Aerosmith guys today if they remember singing "Rock n Roll All Nite" on Japanese TV with the Masked DJ, they would absolutely. No doubt about it.

I remember and will never forget either. It's not everyday Aerosmith sings Kiss songs on national TV!

-------------
Thanks to Lisa Mychols for reminding me about this. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Social Media Sux! Let's Help Them Get it Right!


I really am getting irritated at Facebook! They started placing ads on my wall.

I don't want to see any ads! This ad is an ad for a smartphone application.


What's the ad for? It's an ad for an app that helps you make money! Wow! Make money with an app? I'm in!

So, what to do? I always click: "Hide ad."



Then they ask me some question. Don't ignore them! Help their algorithm get it right! 


Mark something! I'm in a hurry and do not want to help them "THAT" much... 


My faves are marking the first 3 or 4. Choose the one(s) you like! 

Viola! A job worth doing is a job worth doing right!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Grandfather Dies. Father Dies. Son Dies. Grandson Dies: This is True Prosperity



An ancient Zen Buddhist story goes like this:
A very wealthy family in China bought a large farm and built a beautiful palace upon it. They wished for good luck, health, and fortune, so they decided to ask a famous Zen priest to write a scroll for them to hang in their den. The priest accepted the job and went back to his temple to pray for enlightenment.
After a few days, the priest returned with the finished scroll and the entire family gathered around in great anticipation to see the words that the priest wrote for them. The priest said a short prayer and opened the scroll and hung it on the wall.
The scroll said:

Grandfather dies. 
Father dies. 
Son dies. 
Grandson dies.

The entire family was furious at the priest. They shouted and demanded that he go back to the temple and rewrite the scroll for them.
As the priest was rolling up the scroll, he sighed and said: “I will rewrite the order of names on the scroll in anyway you wish. But I think there can be no other sequence. If all die in this order, I think that is true prosperity.”
My own mother died in a freak car accident in 1994. Of course, I was crushed. I was in Japan and she was in America.

After the car accident, she was taken by ambulance to the hospital. I understand that she floated in and out of consciousness before she died. Since I was so far away, I had no way of seeing her, holding her hand, and saying: “I love you mom. Thank you for everything.” But at least I can be thankful that my father was there to do so when she went away. Many people who die are not fortunate enough to have a loved one with them, to hold their hand, to whisper in their ear: “I love you. We all love you…. Please rest. You may go now.” And with words like these, my mother “let go” and passed away. I will always regret that I couldn’t be there with my mother in her time of need. I thank God that my father could be.
There are too many people in this world who die alone. Could there be a more woeful way to die, than when loved ones cannot be there by your side to say their last, “Good-bye”?
After my mother died, though, I was angry. I was angry at the world and I was angry at God. For months after my mother’s death I had recurring nightmares and the most bizarre dreams. Many of the dreams involved times when I was a boy. I would be playing in a playground and I would see my mother on the other side of a fence. I would cry out, “Mom! You’re back!” And I would begin to sob uncontrollably. My mother would grow angry at me and she’d start to leave. I’d cry out again, “Mom! Come back!” As she walked away, she would turn around, look at me, and always say the same thing: “I cannot come to visit you, if you are going to cry every time I see you.” And with that, she’d disappear into a field of tall grass.
I would always promise not to cry the next time. But I couldn’t keep my promise. I think I saw this same dream just about every night for at least six months.
Then one night, I had the most bizarre dream of all. My mother, as usual, walked away because I was crying, I was on my knees. I had my head in hands to try to hold back the tears. And then suddenly, I found myself in a huge chamber. It was like a colossal courtroom. I looked up and there was an old man sitting in a chair, looking quite frustrated and irate at me. He was massive in size. He was huge, at least 40 or 50 feet high and he was sitting down! He was brushing his beard and looking at me as if he was considering what to do.
I knew exactly who he was, yet I was not afraid of him; I was furious.
I shouted: “It’s not fair! It’s not fair that my mother died in an accident. My mother was still young and healthy. She should still be alive you bastard!” The old man just stared at me. I continued to shout at him. And I began to cry.
Then he calmly said: “So you think it is unfair that your mother has died?”
“Of course it’s unfair!”
The old man sighed and said, “Very well then, I shall allow you to be reborn and I will give you a different mother, and that mother will still be alive today. Would you find this acceptable?”
“A different mother!?” I said. “No… No, thank you.”
I suddenly awoke from my dream. I was in tears.
I pondered this strange dream for many weeks after that. Then it dawned on me: Instead of being angry that my mother died in an accident. I should be thankful for all of the wonderful times we spent together, all the hugs and bedtime stories. All the laughs and the great dinners. All the special times that my mother made me feel special, and all the other times she cheered me up when others did not. I should thank God for all the wonderful memories I received from being the son of this loving woman. She was always there for me when I needed her. And now, whenever I see her in my dreams, I do not cry. In fact the dream I often have with her now is one where I am on her side of the fence and we are sitting in the field and having a picnic and smiling together.
I haven’t seen my mother in a while, but I look forward to the next time I do.
I told this story to a priest who has become my friend. He asked me to show him a photograph of my mother. I did. He said: “Your mother was a very beautiful woman. Always keep this image of her in your heart. You are most fortunate that it is you, and not her, who has but memories and a snapshot.”
“How profound!” I thought. And I have always kept his words of wisdom in my heart. I share these words with my friends whose parents have passed away.
If only I could have been lucky enough to be there to hold my mother’s hand and be able to say, “I love you” when she passed away. How thankful I would be; thankful for that moment that I could be there. But I wasn’t.
But she was there to share and be a big part of my life.
I wouldn’t trade those photos or memories for anything in the world.


Would you?
My mother and father sometime in the very early 1950s.

Early 1980s Japan: In the Days When I was Invisible...

Years ago (like 30 ~  35 years ago) there were VERY few foreigners in Japan.... And the few that were here, couldn't speak Japanese all...