Tetsugaku 69 : TETSU69

– The word TETSU69 originally came from a URL, right?
[Right. First, it was my URL, “TETSU69.com”. At one point, I was really into buying all sorts of domain names.]

– How many did you get?
[About twenty or so. “TETSU.com” was already taken by someone else though, so I couldn’t get it. So yeah, “.com” is the best, isn’t it? Not “.co.jp” or anything else. I absolutely wanted a “.com” so I added the 69 for the year I was born, and got “TETSU69.com.” At first, that’s all it was. Is it okay if I go off-topic? It’s related to this, there’s just one thing I want to say.]

– I think it’s best for these talks to cover a wide range of subjects, so feel free to go off-topic, please.
[I got domain names on my own, all by myself. And, with domain names, if you’re wondering whether someone has it or not, you can easily go and check. A fan girl ended up finding out about it, that I had bought that domain name, and then went and talked about it, so I had it be claimed in the name of a staff member, that way it would seem like “Oh, it’s just the company,” when they looked it up. But even though I knew that anybody could look into it if they wanted, I had registered it with my own credit card, that has my real name and everything attached to it, so only the site itself was in the name of that staff member. And of course, it was me who paid for it. Kinda naive of me (laughs). A while after I’d gotten “TETSU69.com” we started thinking about solo projects, but just tetsu, well, there’s a lot of tetsus in the world, so I said to Mi-chan (from the record company’s board of representatives) “Wouldn’t “TETSU69″ be better?” and went with that. That’s the whole story.]

– You’re very particular about the number 69, aren’t you?
[It’s not on my mind as much, now. Like I’m getting a bit sick of it. But I showed someone I know who’s a good judge of names my “TETSU69” name. “I’m thinking of doing some solo work, so do you think this name is any good?” We had a look at the stroke count and stuff (1). It seems the number “69” is very easy to misinterpret. I could be misunderstood if I use that number, maybe. 6 and 9 get twisted around, you know? I was told that “Maybe a different number that doesn’t have this particular feature would be better?” but at the same time I was also told “It’ll take time, but ultimately you’ll be a success so it won’t be that bad, but there will be problems because it’s so easily misinterpreted.” “But if you want to use it that badly, you might as well,” they said and okayed it, so that’s what I used. I was sure it was the right thing to do. Even though it’ll be misinterpreted and troublesome (laughs).]

– It meant you needed to prove yourself, then.
[23 is a good number too. “TETSU23” (laughs). But that number means nothing to me (laughs). When I’m with L’Arc~en~Ciel, my name is written as “tetsu” in lowercase, you know? “TETSU69” is in capitals, which affects the stroke count. Adding 69 changes the stoke count too, right? Given that difference, and for the sake of balance, I changed the “TETSU” part to capitals. That way the total stroke count works out well. Lowercase letters with 69 gives a bad stroke count. It would affect my luck, so I don’t want anyone to write it the wrong way. A lot of fan girls don’t know how to use capital and lowercase properly in their fan letters, so I want them to be more careful.]

– I thought it was plainly obvious that, from a design point of view, the capital and lowercase letters were chosen for a reason.
[That’s not right, it’s for the stroke count. Because it’s different for capital and lowercase. Like e and E are different, for one.]

– So there’s a stroke count for the alphabet too, then.
[Yes, even for the alphabet. There are different ways of seeing it depending on the teacher, though. Oh, and when RARUKU AN SHIERU (2) is written with the alphabet, well, there’s been a lot of talk going around to the effect that “L’Arc-en-Ciel” with – (hyphen) replacing the ~ (tilde) is a mistake, but the truth is that it doesn’t change the name at all. Because using hyphens instead of tildes doesn’t affect the stroke count. Besides, no matter what you do, depending on the design or the font, sometimes using hyphens looks better, and sometimes using tildes looks better, so whichever fits best should be used. They both work fine. The “L’Arc-en-Ciel” logo changes with every release anyway, they change it freely. There is one thing that shouldn’t be changed though : when it’s written in katakana, there shouldn’t be any dots in. It should be RARUKU AN SHIERU, not RARUKU-AN-SHIERU (3).]

– Why is that the case?
[Some people don’t include dots in the stroke count and other people do, but with the people who do include the dots, those make for a bad total so I want them to be dropped. Some count them, some don’t, and when you don’t count the dots, the total comes up to 18 strokes. 18 strokes is very good. But then the dots would add two more, making 20 strokes. If you remove the dots, it gives 18 strokes no matter how you count, so I want them gone. That got confused with the tildes and hyphens issue when the news started going around. When it comes to changing those, there’s a good reason to do it, so it makes sense.]

– I see, there’s clear reasoning behind it all. Now, let’s talk about TETSU69, what’s the most interesting part of doing solo work?
[While working solo I met some new people, and that was great. I didn’t know anything outside of L’Arc~en~Ciel, so it was kind of like entering a different world, which was a big change to experience, for me.]

– What kind of balance do you want to achieve between your solo work and your work with the band?
[Nah, I really don’t know yet.]

– I wonder if the results of your solo work might not be reflected in your band activities now. Do you see any merit in pursuing both at once?
[L’Arc~en~Ciel’s activities were put on hold for two years, so even if I hadn’t been doing any solo work over those two years, I think I’d have grown as a person. So I don’t really know. I did some solo work, but I don’t know if it affected me or not. There’s such a thing as growth medicine, right? You could take some during puberty, and if you do that, you’ll get taller, but even if you hadn’t taken any, you’re in a growth period, so there’s no way of telling if that’s what made you grow, it’s not at all obvious what the cause was, you know? I think this is the same sort of thing. I might have grown even if I hadn’t done any solo work. However, everything I did was connected to the solo project, so the simplest way to put it is to say that I did some solo work, which powered me up, and now I’ve come back to the band, but what if I’m just putting it like that because it’s easier? I see things more coldly.]

– But during your solo project, you sang and did several other things you hadn’t done before. I think it’s obvious that it served as a kind of training for you.
[It’s just that with the solo work, I didn’t play the bass all that much. Some of my songs used synth bass instead. Because I didn’t play it myself in the shows. I played it for the recordings, but I didn’t spend much time on it. And so thinking as a bassist, it doesn’t seem like working solo helped me grow, it’s more like it stunted my growth instead. Being in L’Arc~en~Ciel is what makes me grow as a bassist. Of course, as a vocalist, I think my solo work helped me grow a lot.]

– Is growth as a vocalist in any way related to growth as a bassist? It could be seen as an increase in the number of channels you use to express yourself, so surely there must be some mutual influence.
[Well, I’m certainly not saying there’s no connection whatsoever. It’s just that I never ever think of myself and go “Wow, I’ve grown so much to get to this point.” (laughs)]

– I’m sure many things must be different when you’re making music alone as opposed to in a group of four, so do you find these differences enjoyable at all?
[As a solo artist, “Suite November” is the only album I’ve put together. For every single song, I had a different group of musicians participating. So, the process was different for each and every song, and the members were different too, but the work itself wasn’t all that different from how it is with the band. It felt as if for each song, the members involved became a band themselves. Oh, speaking of differences, the only thing was that I wrote all the music and lyrics myself.]

– But for instance, the jacket design, the album title, the track order, all of these things were decided by you alone, right tetsu-san?
[That part was fun. If it was OK with me, then it was OK. It was easy and fast. For the performances and arrangements too, I could say “Play it like this,” “Play it like that,” and that’s how it was going to be. Maybe on the inside, those musicians were thinking “I don’t like it this way, I don’t want to play it like this,” but I was the one who got to be selfish. It was my own album, so I said things forcefully and made them happen. I didn’t have to think too hard about how other people would feel. With the four of us in L’Arc, it just can’t work that way. We need to make sure everyone’s happy, make sure everybody’s feeling good about what we do. Doing that takes time, so we need to work carefully. But that’s fun in its own way too, it brings an entirely different sense to things, so I think both approaches have their good points.]

– For your solo work you get to decide everything according to your own criteria, your own sensibilities, being true to your own senses, so I think the end result will be that it reflects more about you as an individual human being. With that in mind tetsu-san, what kind of an artist is TETSU69?
[Hmm, what kind of artist? That’s a tough question.]

– Do you think you’re cool, that you do good work?
[I think my tunes are great, very much so.]

– Is there anything you don’t understand about the stage you are at currently?
[Maybe if I were more forceful about it, I could get a boost in sales, which would be nice (laughs).]

– For TETSU69, do you have anything in mind that you’d like to do later, ideas on the back burner or anything like that?
[Nah, musically speaking I still don’t have a solid concept like “TETSU69 is -this- kind of artist” or anything, it takes shape little by little as the project moves along, step by step. I’ve been working by trial and error since the beginning, experimenting with different things, and there are still lots of things I’d like to try for a bit, so if I get the time I think that’s how things will shape up. Right now I don’t have the time, so I can’t put down any specific ideas like “I’ll do this” or “I’ll try that” any time soon.]

– Then, looking at the big picture and taking the time to think it through is better, isn’t it.
[It would be nice if I could go about it like that. Right now though, I’ve got tons of things to do for L’Arc~en~Ciel, but hearing things like “Of course, tet-chan is at his best when he’s playing bass in L’Arc,” makes it seem like I don’t need to do solo work, like maybe it’s a wasted effort, and that makes me feel a little bit lonely.]

– It’s as if the more you persist, the less meaning it has. Do you have any plans for TETSU69 live shows?
[If the timing is right, and if I feel like doing something, then I might have some lives. But it’s always L’Arc, L’Arc, L’Arc, so TETSU69 doesn’t really matter does it? (laughs)]

– No, that can’t be right. Last year’s year-end event was effectively your second show on stage, so now I believe there must be some expectations along the lines of “Well, what’s going to be next?”
[As a vocalist, I’ve only just barely gotten started, and there are a lot of things I still do wrong when I’m singing, so since I still haven’t done very many lives, I think the best is still to come. I’m a member of L’Arc~en~Ciel, where my primary position is being the bassist, so as far as that goes, looking at it calmly and objectively, I think I write good songs. People might or might not like my voice, and I’m sure there are some people who can’t take the sound of my voice on a physiological level, but personally I do like my own vocals.]

– I think the feel of the songs you write and the quality of your voice match very well, tetsu-san.
[I think so too. But I’m in no position to evaluate it fairly. I’m in L’Arc~en~Ciel after all, and compared to L’Arc, I’m in trouble (laughs). hyde and I have different vocalist careers, our voices have different qualities, and our registers are different too, and of course, I think there are some ways in which we can’t even be compared. It’s kind of disappointing, really. I’ve been told things like “If hyde-san sung the songs you made solo, it would sound a lot cooler,” and that’s extremely frustrating. A lot of people say cruel things like that. Things like that make me wonder if there’s any point to my work as TETSU69.]

– I suppose that the longer it lasted, the more it would sink in to your mind, but tetsu-san, is there a source of motivation inside you that urges you on and makes you want to work on your solo project?
[Right now I’m busier with L’Arc, I don’t really have the time, so I don’t feel much desire to work on it. I think it would be best of each of us could have fun with our solo projects while still being in the band. I know that with some of the fans, as soon as we put out some solo work they think that L’Arc is over, so they won’t support the solo projects and some even badmouth them, but that’s not the case at all. Whatever we’re doing, we can still work on both things, so I want people to drop their prejudices and listen to it all.]

– Interviewer : Hasegawa Makoto
Translated by Natalie Arnold

1. Stroke count refers the number of paintbrush (or pen, these days) strokes required to form a Japanese character. Seeing as it’s also how kanji are organised in a dictionary, its an important attribute to consider.Go back.

2. The katakana version of L’Arc~en~Ciel, romanized instead of translated for the sake of clarity in this paragraph. In all other situations throughout the book I have changed the katakana version to the properly spelled version.Go back.

3. Normally there are no spaces in Japanese, so dots are often used to space out foreign words instead. tetsu is explaining that spaces need to be used for the katakana version of the band name. Go back.

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Tetsugaku 68 : L’Arc~en~Ciel

– Among the products L’Arc~en~Ciel has produced, have any been interesting in the sense that they deviated from your expectations?
[Yeah, that has happened. However, it’s not limited to L’Arc, I think it would happen if other people did it, too.]

– But in L’Arc~en~Ciel’s case, the four of you each have strong, distinctive personalities, so there’s a high probability that more band magic is required, right?
[It changes a lot depending on the song. Sometimes we stay close to the songwriter’s original image of the song, faithfully building it up, and other times only the chord progression and melody will be left after we mess with the tempo and arrangements so much. It’s a case by case thing.]

– Let’s take the newly released “SMILE” as an example. How did it go for the song “READY STEADY GO”, which you composed?
[For that song, the tempo was a little slower at first. The rhythm was a bit bouncier. To me, it felt like a Prince song, and the working title was “Prince”. Then, I wanted to make it sound like Good Charlotte, wanted it to be a little more punkish. My interpretation of punk is current American punk. But for yukkie, it seems to be Damned’s “New Rose” (1). I guess we were looking at two completely different eras (laughs). So, we ended up trying out the Damned style, and this is how it turned out. That song was fun to work on while we were making it.]

– It’s an example of band chemistry, right?
[As far as that song goes, I knew from the start that it would turn out fine no matter which way it went. On the other hand, there are some songs that I’m extremely picky about and that I don’t want to see changed. For “Time goes on”, the guitar solo I played in my demo was adopted pretty much as is, with hardly any changes. So depending on the song, it can go completely differently. Both methods have their good points, though.]

– L’Arc~en~Ciel incorporates so many different elements.
[Ultimately, no matter what we play, as long as it’s the four of us, we naturally turn into L’Arc.]

– I think the band’s originality is apparent in that sense too. You say “No matter what we play we turn into L’Arc,” so what on earth is “L’Arc,” in your mind?
[The other day, I was reading the Oricon music business section, and Kameda Seiji-san(2) had written something good. “Speaking of L’Arc~en~Ciel, they are also a European soccer team, that is to say Nakata (Hidetoshi) and Takahara (Naohiro) and Yanagisawa (Atsushi) and (Nakamura) Shunsuke have assembled under the name.” Then, since I’m the leader I guess I’m Hide (laughs). I was thrilled to read that article. Because actually, I’d thought of that myself. When I thought it up, I passed it off as just a random thought, but Kameda-san thought the same thing. It reminds of what it’s like to unite four people with distinct individual talents.]

– You mean how even though they play on different teams, once united, they were immediately able to create an effective formation.
[Yep. That’s exactly what I thought of. Maybe I should wear a captain symbol during lives (laughs).]

– They play in Europe, but they came together to represent Japan, right? So, what acts as a motivation for the four people brought together to form L’Arc?
[That’s a tough question. In soccer they play to win. But music isn’t about winning.]

– Perhaps not victory, but you might have another goal in mind?
[That would be to make good music. Making our music even better. I think it’s all about putting out good songs.]

– Working with these members, you can rest assured that it will turn out nicely, right?
[Yes, that’s right. If we didn’t respect each other, we wouldn’t be able to stay on the same team.]

– When did you start to feel that you were like those soccer players in Europe uniting to represent Japan?
[I think I’ve partially always felt that way, but around the time I was working solo, I started feeling that way especially strongly. We each did our own solo work, then went back to the band, so doing L’Arc again really felt like we were representing something (laughs).]

– Certainly, hearing it from you makes it seem true.
[So yeah, I always feel like I’m a chosen representative of some kind, so I have to work hard or else, and I put my all into my solo work too.]

– Of course, you surely must have put your best efforts into both the band and your solo work.
[Take soccer as an example again (laughs): Solo work feels like playing matches in the regular league. Then, L’Arc is the special delegation. Of course, with real soccer players, even if their regular league matches weren’t broadcast on TV, they still wouldn’t catch the ball with their hands or anything. Whether it’s a league match or a special one, they’ll put the same power, the same energy into the game and play each match one at a time as best they can. It’s the same with the band and solo work. Just, people don’t pay the same amount of attention to the league as they do to the special matches. Personally, I want to make good songs for both the band and my solo work, so I put my all into both of them, and so it can be a little disappointing when only L’Arc manages to become a big success (laughs).]

– I see. Now, tetsu-san, do you feel that L’Arc~en~Ciel should always remain as it is now, or is there a particular direction you feel you should move toward?
[I think that L’Arc has members who are talented musically, technically, and also sensually. But, I think that when talented people like that get together, they generally turn into maniacs pretty quickly, so we need to have a good balance, I don’t want us to become maniacs, I also want us to have popularity. I want us to appeal to both amateurs and experts. I think that’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, though. However, I do think that L’Arc truly is one of the few bands that can do it.]

– Is that direction something that came from discussions among the members? Or is it instead something that came into play naturally, on its own?
[When L’Arc first got started, our catch phrase was “Dual Nature in White and Black.” It’s not that we tried to live according to that phrase or anything, but it seems to me that we somehow did that anyway. The band’s name is L’Arc~en~Ciel, which means Rainbow, so we started in black and white, then all the other colours came in later. We aren’t black and white, we’re a band that spreads out into all seven colours.]

– It seems like it was a prophetic band name.
[I think it happened unconsciously, though. When L’Arc formed, on our first demo tape, there were two songs. L’Arc has never once sold a single copy of our demo tapes though, they were made so we’d have something to play for the live house owners when we were booking places. Back then, we had one really pop song and one really dark song on the tape. Going to both extremes (laughs). We’ve been doing that since the start.]

– The reason you go to both extremes, ultimately, is that you’re musically greedy right?
[I guess so. By doing that, we’ve even been able to infiltrate the layers of society that don’t listen to much rock, and from a sales point of view we’ve increased our figures, so in a way it’s rapidly brought us to the point where we could be maniacs if we wanted to be. Not even the record company people could complain. We steadily built up an environment where we could be free to do whatever we wanted.]

– To most of the world, “winter fall” is probably considered your break point, but what’s your personal take on that, tetsu-san?
[So that’s what most people think, is it? To me, it was always the album “True”.]

– When you got your break, did you become consciously aware that lots of people were listening and that you’d finally achieved popularity?
[Nah, my sense of awareness hasn’t really changed much since the beginning. Personally, I’ve never thought that this band called L’Arc~en~Ciel was lacking in popularity. So when I was told that we’d had our so-called break, I just thought “Oh, so they finally noticed.” (laughs) I was always sure that number of people who thought “L’Arc is good” was going up.]

– Do you think that L’Arc~en~Ciel particularly needs to be supported by many people?
[I do have a personal taste for being flashy, and so as far as being able to be flashy goes, I think we do.]

– This is rather sudden, but do you think about the band breaking up?
[This band will last as long as I live, I can’t say when it’ll end any more than I can tell when I’m going to die.]

– One more thing, tetsu-san. To you, what’s the fun part of being in L’Arc~en~Ciel?
[Hmmm, it feels like going home for the holidays.]

– Do you mean that you feel at ease?
[No, not quite. People react to me differently. The staff seems to be having fun, and the fans seem to enjoy it too. Giving everyone the chance to have so much fun makes me very happy. As long as I can make an environment everyone can enjoy, that’s enough for me. Combining that fun with the ability to make good music isn’t a problem at all.]

– Interviewer : Hasegawa Makoto
Translated by Natalie Arnold

1. Released in 1976, this song by a British group was actually the first British punk single ever released.Go back.

2. Born in New York, he has long been involved in the Japanese music industry, first as a bassist, then as a producer. He has worked with many artists on the production side of things, including L’Arc~en~Ciel.Go back.

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Tetsugaku 67 : The 21st Century

– During your childhood, how did you imagine the world would become by the 21st century?
[I imagined myself as an upstanding adult, actually (laughs). Well, it’s pretty common, but I thought there would be floating cars; I guess I thought the world would be like it was in old sci-fi movies I’d seen.]

– You weren’t the kind of kid to let your imagination run away when it came to the future?
[What kind of kid was I? I guess I was the realistic type.]

– tetsu-san, when you were in elementary school, Gotou Tsutomu’s “Nosutoradamusu no Daiyogen” was a huge hit (1). According to that, there shouldn’t have been a 21st century at all. What are your thoughts on that?
[I think I partially believed in it. Like, in 1999 I’ll turn thirty, I’ll have lived long enough already, or so I thought back in elementary school. You know, I read Gotou Tsutomu’s “Nosutoradamusu no Daiyogen” again in 1999. The newest edition (laughs). There is one. It came out just before July of 1999. “It’s soon. Wonder what’ll happen,” and “What’s the point he wants to make, now?” But you know, even I thought something might happen. Even if it wasn’t in the seventh month. I didn’t think it would be that accurate. I thought something sort of similar would probably happen around that time. In the end “it” turned out to be 9.11 right? “From the sky will come a great King of Terror,” it said. And somewhere else there was a line about “two” of something, that would be the Twin Towers.]

– However, that happened in September of 2001.
[There are other ways of counting dates, and even so it’s very close for something predicted that long ago. In the end, predictions from the past always get distorted, don’t they? So if you take that distortion into consideration, it’s not all that far off. Besides, it doesn’t say anywhere in that prediction that the world will end or that humans will go extinct or anything like that. Just look at the line “From the sky will come a great King of Terror,” that part happened, after all. Over a long span of time, being off by a year or two doesn’t mean a whole lot. Considering its a prophecy from thousands of years ago (2).]

– That’s true. The 21st century started in 2001, so do you have any memories of the instant the 21st century began?
[The first moments of 2001? What was I doing again? Were we on “Kouhaku (Utagassen)”(3)? I think we were, doing “STAY AWAY”. So yeah, I guess I was somewhere in NHK Hall.]

– I suppose you don’t remember it very clearly. Do you perhaps have stronger memories of the initial moments of the year 2000?
[Yeah. Because we were having our “RESET>>LIVE*000”. It was our first countdown live, in fact it’s the only one we ever had.]

– I see. Ah, why is that? Was there actually some kind of tangible feeling the moment the year changed over?
[Nah, there really wasn’t. Oh, there was the Y2K bug, wasn’t there? As soon as 2000 hit, all the power was gonna to go out, or something. Right before the live, we rode around in a helicopter, so I wondered “Is this helicopter gonna crash?” and stuff. After that, the helicopter won’t be able to fly anymore, right? That sort of talk. We were last. Going from NHK to Odaiba (4) by helicopter was so much fun. Because there was so much traffic congestion underneath us. Up above the traffic, we went wooooooosh all the way to Odaiba in ten minutes. The NTT Docomo building in Yoyogi (5) was in the middle of construction, and I remember thinking “Hey, what building is that?”]

– It’s actually been over three years since the 21st century arrived, so how does it compare to the image you had when you were a child?
[It’s pretty different. We haven’t gotten that far. The world isn’t like a sci-fi movie or anime. And Atom hasn’t been born yet, either (6). It means we haven’t quite caught up yet. And there’s no cure for baldness yet, either.]

– You thought about curing baldness? When you were a kid!? (laughs)
[I did think about it when I was a kid, yeah. I thought I’d hate to get bald when I grew up. But, I figured that by the time I got that old, there would be a cure for baldness so I didn’t have to worry. But it doesn’t exist yet.]

– On the other hand, what aspects of the 21st century are close to what you imagined?
[Let me see… Is there anything at all? The world today isn’t that different from how it was then, is it? There was already a shinkansen (7). Airplanes haven’t changed much, either. I guess there haven’t been many changes since when we were young.]

– Then, how about you yourself? Are you anything like you thought you’d be in the 21st century?
[I had no idea I’d be doing this kind of work, for one thing. I didn’t think I’d be able to make a living with music. It’s strange, isn’t it? I never really thought that far ahead. Like about what I’d be when I grew up. I must have written boring essays (laughs).]

– So, if 20th century young-tetsu met 21st century adult-tetsu, what would you say?
[Probably “You gotta do stuff right, or else.” “Do it right now, it’ll get easier later.” And I’d make sure I look healthy. “Play more sports.” “Do more training.”]

– I think you’re plenty stoic enough as it is, though. How about the opposite? What message would your younger self send to your current self?
[Message? “Think things through,” “Do things properly,” probably. “Fight to the death,” or something like that (laughs).]

– Interviewer : Kikuchi Keisuke
Translated by Natalie Arnold

1. The title means “The prophecies of Nostradamus.” It was a movie based on a book movie released in 1974, and Gotou Tsutomu was the writer. Set in 1999, it was an immensely popular film depicting the end of the world, supposedly based on the predictive writings of Nostradamus.Go back.

2. Actually, Nostradamus made his predictions in 16th century France, making it hundreds, not thousands of years ago. It is a mistake on tetsu’s part, not a translation error.Go back.

3. NHK’s annual New Year’s program. The title means “Red and White Song Battle”. Go back.

4. Odaiba is a group of artificial islands in Tokyo Bay. Originally build for protection against attacks by sea, it has since been developed into a futuristic business and entertainment district. Go back.

5. tetsu mentioned this building back in Chapter 47 as a building he dislikes for seeming fake.Go back.

6. Tetsuwan Atom, known in English as Astro Boy. Robot star of an anime from the 60s that has enjoyed immense popularity around the world. Go back.

7. Japanese bullet trains. The system was built in 1964.Go back.

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Tetsugaku 66 : War and Peace

– tetsu-san, you play survival games, right? (1)
[Yup. When I play those games, I think “This is so scary.” At first, I got this kind of imprudent feeling from playing, you know?]

– Ah, yes. It’s a sign of the times.
[Of course, it’s all model guns, just holding guns and playing war, you know? So grown-up. It felt a little imprudent, but playing also made me think about how much war sucks, and how we really shouldn’t do it. Playing these games isn’t supporting war in any way, and I don’t think it’s something war lovers play, either. Well, maybe war lovers play too, sometimes (laughs).]

– Then, playing survival games actually served to develop your anti-war sentiments?
[Yes, I think it did. War absolutely sucks. When you get hit in a survival game, you go “Ow!” and that’s it, but if it were a real war, that one hit would kill you. In the end, war is just wrong.]

– What with the military intervention in Iraq, we’re living in a period of war nervousness, plus there have been several wars even within your own life time, tetsu-san. The Falkland Island dispute (2) for instance, even without directly experiencing it, there were moments where it felt like a realtime war. What kind of views do you have on war?
[Love and peace. No, I don’t have any real views to speak of. Well, I think anyone can see that war is bad, but wars still happen despite that.]

– For example, there’s the current situation with Iraq, where even though the U.N. was opposed to it, ultimately America wouldn’t give up and ended up starting a war. The U.N. resolutions were originally meant to create a universal world, but in the end they were useless.
[That’s the kind of country America is. They’re the type to do whatever they feel is in their national interest, you know?]

– Japan followed them too, in the end we sent out the self-defence forces (3). Well, it’s for the sake of undertaking the reconstruction of Iraq.
[I don’t think there was any point in going, but I guess it can’t be helped. There was pressure on the country, so we couldn’t not go, you know? But, I don’t like the way some members of the self-defence force are opposed to it. It would be kind of like if firefighters said fires were too dangerous, so they won’t go. They’re supposed to be the first people to rush into this kind of emergency, aren’t they? That’s the kind of work these military people chose to do. But I have to wonder what kind of person would sign up without actually intending to go if anything like this comes up.]

– Now, what do you think about war and music? It’s always been connected to love and peace, which means that the topics can’t be separated, in my opinion.
[I’ve never written an antiwar song or any antiwar lyrics. I have no intention of ever writing any, either. I don’t like message songs. Even leaving the antiwar theme behind, I’ve never written any message songs. That’s not what music is about, to me.]

– So, you go out of your way to not write any?
[That’s right. I don’t like things that make a strong statement in my world. For example, because they’re our fans, there are a lot of people who’ll take our opinion on anything we bring up at face value and believe it to be true. Unconditionally. Because they’re fans. Because they like us. So that means that even if we’re wrong, they’ll go “Yeah, yeah” and believe it anyway. Even if we were wrong or prejudiced. That just seems a little too much like brainwashing. So, message songs and stuff like that really aren’t fair. I want my fans to have their own opinions and their own ideas.]

– How about songs that don’t have a direct message, but rather are vaguely themed about global love instead of singing that message? How do you feel about those?
[That kind of song, yeah, I have some. Up until now? I’ve made some. SCARECROW was that kind of song. That song wasn’t about feeling love, though. What the heck was it? It wasn’t love. It was “anti#%&@”. I didn’t name the #%&@ part, though. But, I think that when people listen to the song, they won’t understand its true meaning. It was written up to look like a love song. I think most people interpret it that way.]

– I have no idea what you might mean, but this does make it seem like the song has a certain spice hidden within it.
[Yeah, inconspicuously. Antiwar or love and peace, those are so easy to write about that anybody can do it. It’s like, of course, completely obvious. However, there are other things to society, to the world. Disputes never end, anyway. Because everyone involved in the fight is convinced they’re right. They each have their own idea of what’s fair and just, you know? They say a world without war would be peaceful. But if you look at history, people have always been fighting, haven’t they? There’s no such thing as a war-free era. I mean, even if there isn’t a massive war on, there are still individual massacres. Incidents like that. So yeah, peace is just so… difficult…… Argh, it’s so hard!]

Interviewer : Kikuchi Keisuke
Translated by Natalie Arnold

1. Outdoor games, like paintball wars and the like, where participants must survive the obstacles of the environment as well as outperform other players. Go back.

2. In 1982, Argentina and the UK fought over possession of the Falkland Islands, which were disputed territory in the South Atlantic.Go back.

3. Since the end of World War Two, Japan is not allowed to maintain an army any more substantial than the tiny self-defence forces.Go back.

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Tetsugaku 65 : Financial Sense

– You seem to use your financial sense to reflect on several matters.
[I do that a lot, don’t I…… You know, for years now, I haven’t looked at the price tag when I buy things, really. By that I mean that I buy things without knowing the price. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? (both laugh)]

– Nhahaha! No, honestly, I’m jealous.
[I don’t even know how much money there is in my own wallet. I can take all my stuff up to the register, then BAM! When I look at my wallet : “Uh oh, there’s nothing in here. Do you take credit cards?” “No, sorry, you can’t use a credit card here.” “Okay, I’ll run to the bank and get some money, hold this stuff for me please.”]

– That must be such a shock (laughs). I wonder whether that means you have a financial sense, or that you don’t.
[I don’t. Oh, but I think I’ve gotten much worse lately (laughs). See, there’s a gap between what people think is expensive and what I think is expensive. The way some people go “5000 yen!!? So expensive!”, I’ll treat hundreds of thousands of yen like so much spare change (both laugh). I’m like “It’s not worth all that much, is it?”]

– Somehow, it’s not that you don’t have any sense of its worth, but even you must worry about these things sometimes, right?
[I think I’m terrible, such a terrible person. Just about every time I go to pay with a credit card, I hear “Is that all one bill?” and I hate that. “Of course it’s all one bill!” … Aren’t I horrible? (both laugh) I don’t like the fact that I’m like that. Deep in my heart, I think “I’m such a horrible person.”]

– I see~. Now, money is very important, isn’t it?
[Yes, it’s very important.]

– Money is, for instance, an easily understood basis for setting the value of things. Of course, it doesn’t indicate everything, but it does give things a saleable value. What is your take on money in that sense?
[I don’t think that ascribing a worth to something makes it sell. Not every good thing made gets sold, and the quality of music isn’t entirely proportional to how well it sells. That’s how the world works, right? Plenty of people make music that doesn’t sell even though it’s really good, and the opposite happens, too. It depends on the time period…… Compared to five, six years ago, CDs don’t sell much at all these days. The same product released now would get completely different sales result than it would have five or six years ago.]

– You have your own label, for your activities as TETSU69, so regardless of what you may or may not want to do, you have to keep the production costs in mind, right? You need a proper understanding of those basics.
[I don’t have that basic understanding? Not really, anyway. It’s just that, of course, it costs money to make things. Naturally, the more I make things that sell, the faster I get the freedom to do whatever I want. Some people say “I’m gonna do what I want!” a lot, but then a lot of the time they don’t get any results. It goes to show that you can’t always do what you want. Unless you’re extremely rich, you can’t go around only doing what you please. Doing what you want has to lead to results, and by results, I mean that your CD has to sell loads of copies. Start there, then you can do what you want. That’s obviously the way the capitalist system works. But, in Japan, there are people who say that’s a bad thing. “They’re just doing it for the money,” or “These guys are cool because they only ever do exactly what they want to do, so I support them.” No no no, what’re ya saying? That’s how I react (laughs). Naturally, I’m making the kind of music I like, I think I’m doing what I want, in principle. I think “for money” is the wrong term to use, cause in this business, as a professional, I need to make money to be able to do what I want.]

– Mmhmmhmm. That’s absolutely correct.
[So, the answer to “What can a fan do for an artist?” is quite simple : buy lots of CDs, buy concert tickets, buy some of the photo books and lots of goods like that. And in case you’re wondering, you shouldn’t buy fake, pirated products because the artist won’t get a single yen from them. It’s a simple concept, right? But if I go out and say things like that, the trend in Japan leads to me being thought of as being “into music for the money.” I have to wonder about that.]

– That might be peculiar to Japan, a type of honourable poverty, from the Bushido mindset (1). But, selling things is definitely a good thing, a necessary thing. If you don’t sell anything, you can’t create anything else.
[I wouldn’t be able to cover the production costs. Which means I wouldn’t be able to make anything. Of course, I don’t think money is all you need to make a good product. Even low-budget projects can be incredibly interesting, sometimes it might turn out that restricting the possibilities makes for a more interesting result, but I don’t think that’s good for the artist.]

– When you first started the band, how did you make ends meet?
[Nah, even though I didn’t have any money, I lived in luxury (laughs). I even went to practise by car(2).]

– Ahahahahaha! But it cost money to manage the band, didn’t it?
[As far as management goes, we were really lucky, L’Arc managed to pull over a hundred people. Right from the start. And then the cash started coming in. But we also had day jobs to live on, you know? So it’s not like we were relying on band earnings to buy food. Since we were living off our jobs, we could save up fast, as we held more shows. Then we made a free video. To give something back to the fans. Later, we saved up the money to buy an equipment car. The money we made as a band didn’t go to the members, we pooled it instead and only spent it on the band. We didn’t go through any rough spots, or get in trouble because we didn’t have money.]

– So on top of managing the band, you had quite an extensive system in place.
[Yeah, I think we were so lucky in that area. We seemed to be low-class, but we didn’t live that way. You hear a lot of stories like how, at first, there were more band members than audience members, right? I haven’t experienced that even once.]

– That certainly seems rather unusual. Might it be that you couldn’t even imagine what it meant to live as part of the lower class?
[Well, I suppose you could say we did what we could to avoid it. “Even if only one person listens to our music, we’ll go do a show wherever we have to just for that person,” I hate that sort of sentiment. I realise that quite a few people in Japan hear that and go “Wow, cool! Wonderful!”, but I figure “Isn’t it better to get a hundred people?” “Let’s work on getting a hundred people to come, instead.”]

– I think that’s exceptional focus on your goals.
[So yeah…… These days they’re called fliers, but back then we called them handbills (laughs), even for the handbills, we made sure they’d make people think “Wow, I wanna see them; what kind of band are they?” by making cool handbills. Also, at the time, I was working in a pretty big record store in Osaka, and from the client list we had a list of people who liked Japanese rock to send direct mail to. So, I’d go to those areas and stick up some posters. For L’Arc’s first live, we had stickers to give out as presents. We worked together so we could draw in as many people as possible.]

– One could say that you were blessed, but you actually put a lot of effort into it. Your present situation has its origins there.
[Just… well… I wasn’t really trying to be professional or anything…… I never thought anything like “I absolutely must be able to live off my music,” at all. My personality is cooler than that (laughs). It’s just that I wanted to create a band, so I went about gathering members properly…… “Do it right,” for everything that came up, one thing at a time. “If I do things properly then I’m sure to get decent results,” that was my attitude. It’s kind of mysterious though, looking back on it now. Taking it one thing at a time, one step at a time, each step didn’t seem that high, so it was easy to keep moving up. Then, a while later I turned around, and realised that I’d come up an incredibly tall staircase, or something like that. Some people say “I have a big dream,” right? Me, I stuck to small ones. I only had dreams that could become real very soon. I’m the type to take a realistic dream, clear it, then go “Okay, the next dream is this,” and so on, gradually climbing the stairs to chase them. And so, I’m the type to do whatever I suspect is the best way to go about things. It’s because of my personality that I do things the way I do. Generally, there’s no one more suspicious than someone who does the right thing. People who are said to be “good people” have a flip side to them. Me, I’m hard to please, and I don’t think my public image is very good, even I can tell that much. But, I think that people who spend a lot of time with me, who really get to me, can tell that I’m not really like that. Image, it’s surprisingly bad, isn’t it?]

– Well certainly, it was often said that “L’Arc is difficult”, especially in the earlier days.
[At the very beginning, the company kept telling us “Don’t talk in Kansai-ben” (3). But we weren’t gonna talk in standard.]

– Ahaha! Then everyone would need to be quiet! It was when none of you were speaking that it was often said that “L’Arc is difficult”.
[It’s not that we were being pretentious. We simply weren’t speaking.]

– Ahahaha. Now, let’s go back to the subject of money. How did you feel when your first royalties started to come in?
[The first time they came in? “Eeeeh!? Is this ALL!?” (both burst into laugher). It was disappointing.]

– Ah, really? What was the amount, if you don’t mind my asking?
[Oh, no, I don’t remember anymore. I just remember thinking “I ain’t gonna be able to eat much with this.”]

– Going back to earlier on, do you ever look at your own shopping and think “This is definitely bad,” for any reason?
[Woah, I spend so much every month, it’s ridiculous. I might be better off buying land.]

– But tetsu-san, you don’t seem the type to spend money frivolously.
[Um, well, I buy expensive stuff. I’ve always been like that, buying the best possible kind of video deck, for example. Same thing for appliances. I always get the highest quality. I buy brand name furniture, too. I’ve got to be some kind of clown. Like, the way I’ll buy all this Italian furniture (laughs). “What’s this one? Ooh, a Cassina,” conversations like that are normal to me, and I don’t want to go down a notch (laughs). But recently Dynos or something started making similar products for one-tenth of the price, right? (laughs) “Is this enough?” I wonder, and sometimes I get incredibly sad. People who don’t know any better would say “Isn’t it the same thing?” right. I guess I waste my money that way. But, even though they’re brand names, I hate Gucci bags and things like that. I think they’re crap. I prefer things that aren’t recognizable except to those who know what they’re talking about.]

– Spending your money on things like this is ultimately about satisfying yourself, correct?
[That’s right. So, it’s like I’m picky about things that aren’t obvious, isn’t it? I spend my money on things that no one will notice the price of, and I make sure the spots the carpenter missed are finished, I think that’s the craftsman in me (laughs).]

– You have the financial sense of a craftsman (laughs).
[Yeah. Well, when you’re only careful about the visible stuff, and leave the unseen parts to rot, then you end up with a house full of problems. Then there’s my attitude toward easily recognized bags. I’m completely backwards.]

– Then your financial sense is in the fact that you have artisan talents, tetsu-san. And an artist’s wallet, too (laughs).
[Yeah, well, in the end, it’s bad to not think about things!]

– Interviewer : Honma Yuuko
Translated by Natalie Arnold

1. The idea of honourable poverty refers to a humble, spartan lifestyle suitable for the Samurai, followers of Bushido, in feudal Japan. Go back.

2. In crowded Japanese cities, getting around by car is immensely expensive, especially compared to the extensive public transit system.Go back.

3. The Kansai region, where Osaka is located, has its own very distinctive accent compared to standard Japanese. Go back.

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Tetsugaku 64 : Old Age

– Is the matter of old age on your mind at all?
[Nah, I’m not even sure when old age really starts, and I’ll be working until I’m at least fifty, and I want a fun lifestyle after that. You can still have fun after fifty. Yeah, I’d like to try a luxury cruise around the world.]

– Have you ever thought about the age at which you’d want to die, if it were possible to choose?
[Nah, I want to live a long life. I want to live long, but if I caught a disease, then I’d want to die before I had to suffer.]

– Die of old age? That would be ideal, wouldn’t it.
[Mmhmm. Or die while having sex…… I’m kidding! (laughs)]

– Ahahahaha, that would be cool in it’s own way. But, can you even imagine yourself at age fifty?
[Hmmmm, I don’t think I’ll change too much. My appearance probably will change, though.]

– You aren’t anxious about ageing at all? Wondering if “you’ve become all you could be”?
[Nah, everyone’s a little anxious about what’s coming up as they get older, right? So, you have to think about it. No, even though I said I don’t think about it, I really do, of course. There are lots of things that would be good to simulate. Yeah…… In my case, anyway.]

– Interviewer : Honma Yuuko
Translated by Natalie Arnold

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Tetsugaku 63 : Children

– You once mentioned that you like children. Did you mean playing with them, or do you prefer simply seeing them?
[I like playing with them. It’s tiring, but I like it. It’s kinda nice to take care of them.]

– As surprising as that is to hear, it’s also understandable. According to you, tetsu-san, what is it about children that makes them cute?
[Just the fact that all their parts are so tiny, that alone is enough to make anything cute. But see, these kids, like my nephews and my friend’s nieces, I only see them once in a while. Since it’s not that often, I’ll play with them, but if it was 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, then it would be terrible. Since I haven’t had that kind of experience, I don’t think I can really say what’s cute about them.]

– Well, we’ve discussed marriage, or not getting married, before, so do you think you’d want to have kids of your own?
[Hmm, I’ve never thought about it, really. I don’t especially feel like I want them, but don’t absolutely not want them, either. You know, as far as people’s children go, it seems like lots of people think of them almost like pets, so they’ll have kids just as easily as they’d raise a pet. I don’t think it’s that simple. And so, it’s a principle of mine not to keep pets. Then, when it’s a human child, they can’t keep up their previous lifestyle, so people say things like “Oh well, I had one so it can’t be helped,” right? I can’t stand that sort of thing. There’s an economic side to it, too. To raise one person until they graduate from high school takes tens of millions of yen, doesn’t it? You need to have the right income. Then, in daycare centres and nursery schools, where they take care of one and two year olds, sometimes those kids die, you know? Like, they fell asleep while lying face down and suffocated. But I can’t understand the nerve of those parents, letting someone else take care of their one or two year old children. For one and two year olds, the parents alllllways have to take care of them, or else. There’s no way they can get away with having someone else do it while they go to work. I think that if you can’t live on just the father’s earnings, don’t have kids yet. At least until the child is three years old, if the mother needs to work because the father’s earnings aren’t enough of an income, I think they shouldn’t have children.]

– Ah, well, I think that’s correct. You at least need that much preparation, planning, and foresight, right.
[Right. However, I’m not saying they need to grow up overprotected. They should be left alone when they need to be, but I think it’s best to also have strict rules. But of course, there needs to be love in it for it to work.]

– I think that if you ever had children, tetsu-san, they would grow up very happily. Oh, yes, tetsu-san, you’ve often said that you’re a child yourself, so in which specific ways do you see yourself as one?
[In every possible way (laughs). In the end, of course, I love myself, I think I’m the cutest. If I had a child, that would become someone I’d throw my life away to protect if necessary, but I’m still a complete child. I don’t think children can raise children. I think I’d feel sorry for the kid. I’m still not a complete person, a complete human being, yet.]

– I understand.
[No, but if I ever have children, then that’ll be that, everything will change from the moment they’re born, probably. But right now, everything down to my way of thinking is childlike. My bachelor life is fun.]

– Interviewer : Honma Yuuko
Translated by Natalie Arnold

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Tetsugaku 62 : Alcohol

– You quite like alcohol, don’t you?
[I do like it. Well, maybe? I guess I don’t really like it all that much.]

– Well, I guess you don’t drink your way to a pounding headache then? But, it is fun to drink a little, right? Did you start drinking a long time ago? I somehow get the impression you didn’t drink much in the past.
[I get told that by everybody but I haven’t changed much, really. It’s just that before, I didn’t open my heart much at all, so I didn’t go out drinking with people. Even when I did go, I didn’t get all that casual, did I?]

– I see. What kind of alcohol do you drink the most? I’d guess beer?
[I start off with beer. “Beer first” (laughs) (1). While I’m drinking my “first beer” I think of what to have next. Which way to go. Well, it depends on who I’m with and on the time zone, too. Sometimes I stop after that one beer, sometimes I move from beer to wine. If there are wine drinkers among the group I’m with, then we’ll get a bottle. That or shouchuu(2). If nobody else wants to get wine, I’ll drink shouchuu by myself.]

– You must drink a lot of ume no oyuwari(3) and the like, right?
[Yeah. But I was a late bloomer for shouchuu. There was a shouchuu fad just recently, too. Lots of young people drank it, right? It’s image used to be that it was the drink for old men who did manual labour. But now it seems like even young women drink it, it’s become a refined drink. I’m sure that’s how I got around to drinking it. At first, I wondered what was so good about it, and now it’s like shouchuu doesn’t get me drunk, so it’s nice. It doesn’t leave a single trace the next day. Ever since way back when, drinking barely leaves a trace on me. It’s not one of my weaknesses. I can drink up to a certain amount without getting drunk, and without it lingering.]

– I suppose you don’t get hangovers, then?
[Nope. At most, I’ll get maybe one in a year. More like one every two, three years. I regret those times. “Dammit! Why did I drink so much and make myself sick?” (laughs). Basically, I drink because it’s fun. Because I want it to be fun. I’ve never gotten drunk out of despair. I don’t change when I drink. Since I don’t change, it’s like nobody can tell I’m drunk. I just get a little more talkative, I think. I talk a little more than I usually do, or something.]

– But, the corners of your eyes start to droop, and you get a little cuter……
[I get panda eyes, right? (laughs)]

– I think the time I saw you most drunk was at the party after the TETSU69 first live “Sweet December” right? You were pretty drunk that time. You even had trouble climbing stairs.
[Oh, yeah, I did drink a lot that time. But, wasn’t the mood rather drunken anyway?]

– You seemed to be having a great time. Even at the party, you kept singing your songs.
[I was still singing even though the live was over, right? (laughs)]

– That’s right. So, you should have made the live a little longer! Or something (laughs). Now, how do you feel when other people are drunk around you, but you aren’t?
[I like happy drunks. But, I hate when people walk around with that look in their eyes that says “Wanna tangle?” In the end, it just makes me think they can’t hold their booze. It’s like, usually I control myself rationally, then I hear all these stories people only bring up when they’re drunk, and I can think about them. So, I think that people who get violent when they’re drunk are actually just holding back the rest of the time, and that’s their true self. I’m glad I’m not like that. For better or for worse, I don’t have much of a hidden side. A lot of painful incidents happen that way, though.]

– So, you claim that even when you’re drunk, you can still exercise calm judgement. Deep down, you must admire calm, sensible people.
[Yes, I think I do. I think so, but I really do think I’m that kind of person myself, too. It’s no different when I’m drunk. You know how hairy people get a lot of pity? I think it’s because they say humans originally evolved from apes, so being hairy = being primitive. Primal and instinctive. Well, I’m particularly hairless (laughs). So, I guess that means I’m not primitive, and I think I’m a more evolved person. I’m not talking about whether that’s good or bad. It’s just that rather than give pity, I’m the type to coolly analyse things, staying very cool to think about them. If that means I’m cold, then I guess I’m cold.]

– I see. We’ve gotten a bit off topic. Let’s see… Do you ever drink when you’re at home by yourself?
[At home, I make Ditamonis (4). By myself. Consistently. I don’t keep that much alcohol at home, though. Beer and Dita and Kahlua and that’s it?]

– That’s a lot of sweet drinks.
[Cause I’m still a kid (laughs). I don’t drink every day at home, though. Maybe three or four times a week. When I want to reward myself for a good day’s work and so on. “Otsukarechan!” (5) (laughs). Oh, and I don’t sleep much, so sometimes I drink a little and sleep. I have awful sleeping habits since I’m such a night person. Well, alcohol is the lubricant of life, right? I could live without it, but it seems like having it makes life move along more pleasantly.]

– Interviewer : Kikuchi Keisuke
Translated by Natalie Arnold

1. He’s playing with the phrase “Toriaezu biiru,” which translates to “First of all, beer,” or “Beer first.” Typically, when Japanese go to a bar, they order a beer first instead of a fancier drink, and the ordering is done with this phrase.Go back.

2. Shouchuu is a traditional Japanese alcoholic beverage that is sometimes called “Japanese vodka.” It has a rather high alcohol concentration. Similar drinks are made in China and Korea.Go back.

3. A drink (in this case shouchuu) mixed with hot water and ume juice. Ume is a species of Japanese plum.Go back.

4. A drink that combines lychee liqueur, tonic water and grapefruit juice.Go back.

5. The phrase “otsukaresama” is said to coworkers, teammates and the like after a hard work session. By changing the end to “chan”, he is making it cuter, which is compounded by the fact that he’s saying it to himself.Go back.

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Tetsugaku 61 : Marriage

[I’ve never had any desire to get married, not ever. Instead, I always thought “Why would I want to get married?” Ever since my teens, probably, that’s how I saw it. I have no aspirations in that direction. At one point, I even went as far as to think “Marriage is the graveyard of life.”]

– That’s a fitting phrase, isn’t it? For someone who’s never wanted to get married, that is.
[Actually, it’s a quote from a musician I like, I read that line in an interview once and thought “That’s so cool!”. That was back in middle school or high school, though.]

– Then, has your opinion on the subject changed at all, recently?
[I wonder. I don’t hate children. I think my nephews and my friend’s nieces are so adorable. But, it would be completely different if they were my kids. I still feel like a kid, myself. I’m not much of a thinker.]

– Don’t you ever wonder “What if?” Like, maybe a married lifestyle would be nice, or something like that.
[That’s unthinkable. Among the married people I know, very few of them actually seem to be in happy, peaceful marriages. Especially in this business, most people end up separating, don’t they, within two, three years.]

– It could be because of how busy you are, or maybe it’s the way your values are slightly different from those of a regular person, right?
[Yeah, yeah, yeah. And besides, with my work, sometimes it’s the middle of the night, getting to be morning by the time I get home. I don’t think ordinary people could understand. The people who can understand, well, they’re pretty rare, right?]

– Then, are you comfortable with being a lifelong bachelor?
[I don’t think too hard about that, either. In the end, if I fell in love hard enough to turn my current values completely upside-down, I’d probably get married right away. So it’s not that I’m negative about it, it might just be that I’ve got my sights set too high. I look for perfection in everything, that’s probably why I’m not married yet. But you know, I only date people with marriage in mind.]

– Oh, really! That’s rather……
[Well, you can’t seriously date a girl who isn’t thinking “What if we end up getting married?” right? But of course, I don’t want to tarnish my family register (1), either.]

– Ahahah! So you don’t want any black marks (laughs).
[That’s right, I don’t (laughs).]

– So, supposing you were going to get married, are there any traits you’d want your wife to have?
[No. Of course, I’d be delighted if she was a good cook, but I don’t want to marry a housekeeper. So, I don’t have any conditions for a woman I’d marry…… Ah, trustworthiness? My work keeps me out late so much that if my partner decided to cheat on me, it would be easy to do. Like, “My husband never comes home, he’s always at the studio.” (laughs) I don’t want a partner who’ll keep me wondering “What is she doing right now?” or “Is she out having dinner with another guy?”, because worrying about that would break my concentration at work. If I can’t have peace of mind, my work will suffer. That’s it! Of course, it’s my work that’s at the centre of my life right now. So, she’s got to be a girl who’ll help build an environment where I can concentrate on work.]

– On a mental level, I understand, but part of me still reacts with something like “Eeh? He just doesn’t care~”
[You see, I don’t mind going to extremes. I’m Takumi from NANA (laughs)(2). Like he says : “To me, work is what’s most important.”]

– Let’s be prepared (laughs). Moving on, for most of the world “finding happiness = getting married,” or so they say……
[If you listen closely to what those people say, it turns out that what they’re really saying is “If you don’t get married and have kids, who’ll look after you when you get old?” But I think “As if I’m gonna do that just so someone will look after me when I’m old!” I think it’s a twisted way of thinking. I mean, from the kid’s point of view : “Is that the whole reason I was brought into the world?” Isn’t that horrible? Instead, I’ll save some money and put myself in an institution to get someone to take care of me, I think that’s a lot healthier.]

– It is rather sickening to think of a person as insurance.
[Right. As for girls, some girls say things like “When I go to my child’s school events, I want to be younger than all the other mothers there, so I want to have a kid as soon as possible,” and I think “Just for that?” I wouldn’t want a child to be raised by someone who thinks that way, not at all. Not if it was my kid. Besides, apparent age and true age aren’t always the same, you know. People aren’t always the age they seem to be. Take me for example, I’m 34 but people are always telling me I don’t look that old at all. Some people in their twenties look like old ladies or old men already, and some fifty year-olds look much younger than they are. I think the Japanese in particular are too picky when it comes to age. In the sports news, for example, whenever they write someone’s name they always have their age in brackets next to it, right? I wonder why they go out of their way to write the age.]

– That reminds me, in foreign scandal articles, they never print any ages. So like “How old is Jennifer Lopez?”
[See? I think it’s unique to Japan……. I’m saying cool stuff without even thinking (laughs).]

– Ahahaha. And so, tetsu-san, I can imagine that you’d only ever get married for love, right?
[No? I have no particular intention of ruling out a miai marriage(3). Whether it’s a miai or someone I fall for on my own, no matter how we meet, it doesn’t matter as long as we like each other, right? Yeah. But I think a miai would make me nervous.]

– Interviewer : Honma Yuuko
Translated by Natalie Arnold

1. The family register, called koseki, is an official register of all the births, deaths, marriages and divorces in a Japanese family. It’s a type of census document. In this context, he is implying that if he got married rashly and then divorced, it would be recorded on his family register and thus make for a permanent negative mark.Go back.

2. See Yazawa Ai’s manga, NANA. Go back.

3. Miai marriages are a type of arranged marriage, where the potential couple are introduced to each other by a matchmaker. However, miai is not as strict as other types of arranged marriages. If the couple in a miai decide they don’t like each other, they aren’t obliged to get married. Go back.

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Tetsugaku 60 : Cooking

– tetsu-san, you’ve declared that you don’t cook at all, right?
[I’ve said that I don’t cook. Before, I used to work so that I really wouldn’t have to cook at all. It was so I could build an unrealistic world for myself. As an artist (laughs). Now, though, I think cooking is an art too, in a way. But still, I don’t cook and I never have. There are lots of other reasons, too. Partially, it’s because of my neat freak side, because I like beauty, and because I think that anything I cooked myself would make me sick. If I were going to cook, I’d have to wash my hands really carefully, make sure all the utensils and stuff are as clean as possible, there’d be no end to it. I’m sure that sometimes, food other people make isn’t that clean, but I didn’t see them make it so it’s okay. I only worry if I see it. “Wash those plates properly,” and so on. Anyway, it’s like if the utensils need washing, I want to do it myself and make sure it’s done right, or something. I’m not a very trusting person so I don’t want to leave it to others, the washing that is. So, if I were to cook for myself, I’d get way too picky and it would take forever. That’s why I decided I wouldn’t (laughs). I figure there’s got to be lots of people who are good at cooking. Such as knowing the right amounts of seasoning on their own. Me, I’d measure it precisely. “Leave it this many minutes to be OK,” and stuff too. Doing all that would be so tiring, wouldn’t it? I think cooking is really something you need to be more relaxed about. I probably can’t do that, so I won’t cook at all. Just like how I don’t want to try my luck on weird things, I don’t want to get worked up over weird things either.]

– Ah, I understand. But, don’t you occasionally decide to try and cook something? As a man interested in cooking, that is.
[No, I don’t. Cooking utensils? I think I’d want to place all the knives and pots in order. I already keep all my other tools in order, so it’s pretty similar. “Woah! That’s a cool knife!” Whenever that happens, I take it home and find the right spot for it (laughs).]

– Really? You keep them in precise order!? Even so, you never use them yourself.
[I never use them, no.]

– You’ve never used them even once, in all the time you’ve lived on your own?
[No, I haven’t. Even if I used one, I’d keep saying I hadn’t. For things more complicated than instant ramen, I have to. Like when I’m boiling noodles. When I boil pasta noodles, I’ll use instant sauce to go with them. But you know, boiled noodles taste the best. Because the water temperature, the amount of seasoning, and the proportions are so specifically measured.]

– Right, right. Though, you have a delicate palate, don’t you, tetsu-san? In the end, people like you end up not wanting to cook for themselves. The common consensus is that a gourmet’s cooking will taste better, right?
[Yeah. If it was my job, I’d do it. Since it’s not my job, I don’t want to. Cook, that is. I think it’d be horrible to give up on being a musician to become a cook.]

– It certainly sounds dreadful. Right now, all your meals are take-out, right?
[That’s right.]

– You eat out every day, but once in a while, don’t you think it would be nice to taste some homemade food, just like your mother used to make?
[Well, you know, I never really had much homemade food at all. I don’t know what my mother’s cooking tasted like. Now, when someone asks me “Do you remember any flavours?” I can’t answer anything but “No.” There isn’t even a single food I start to crave once in a while. I figure it must be tough, having cravings. Anyway, I’m OK with eating out. Wherever and whatever I eat, I usually find it tasty. Of course, I know some delicious restaurants, too.]

– You might be right about cravings being hard to deal with. However, your way seems a bit lonesome.
[People might think so from hearing me say it, but personally I think “I’m so lucky~”. These days, I don’t eat convenience store bentou (1), but back when I first moved out on my own, I thought “Convenience store bentou is pretty tasty.”]

– That’s an interesting story. Then, what if a girl prepared some food for you? Would it make you happy?
[No, well, I’m okay with it now, but I used to hate that. It kinda made me sick. It’s not that my mom’s cooking was especially delicious or anything, but I never ate anything made by anyone but her. Know what I mean?]

– (laughs) So, I suppose you don’t recall any particular thing a girl cooked for you, either?
[Now though, if a girl cooks something for me, it makes me happy. I know some people whose wives are great cooks, so talking to them makes me think “Must be nice.” Talk to them and they’ll say that going home to eat tastes better than going out ever could. So I figure they must go home for their meals every day. Lately, thinking about it objectively, I figure it’s better for a girl to be a good cook. But, if I were to get married, I think I’d more or less be my wife’s helper. It’s not because I especially want to help out with that, though. It’s just that if I didn’t, I’d seem like a typical Japanese husband. Western husbands help out their wives, don’t they? That’s just how I’d want to be. I could get drunk on myself if I was that way (laughs).]

– Interviewer : Kikuchi Keisuke
Translated by Natalie Arnold

1. Bentou is a typical Japanese lunch, packed in a box. It usually contains a variety of food that can easily be eaten without needing further preparation, so these boxes are popular as school or office lunches. Convenience stores often sell bentou for much less than a restaurant would, but naturally these cheap meals aren’t renowned for their taste.
Go back.

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