Entry #40 – Dinner Party #4

Will you stay with me
風が過ぎ去るまで
また溢れ出す All my tears
Forever Love
Forever Dream
このままそばにいて
夜明けに震える
心を抱きしめて
Oh Stay with me

– X Japan, 「Forever Love」
lyrics from jpopasia

Hey all,

Kohaku here. Is everyone feeling alright? I hope you’re all taking care of yourselves and each other during this time. Today’s journal entry, being the 40th, is the 4th rendition of my Dinner Party project.

Links to earlier installments:
→ Dinner Party #1 (full explanation of the project and its history)
→ Dinner Party #2
→ Dinner Party #3

Obligatory blurb:
“The basic premise is to keep a list of 10 famous people whom you admire or respect, people who inspire you in your daily life and work. Then, track how this list changes over time. There are some new people on it this time around. These new inspirations replaced some of the old ones, to keep the list at 10, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like or draw inspiration from those old people anymore. The Dinner Party project is just a snapshot of the 10 people who are most inspiring to you at this particular moment.”

Okay, here we go. New entries since last time are in bold, and all names are linked to their websites/pages on Wiki. In no particular order:

  1. Yuzuru HANYU (羽生結弦)
  2. Yoshiki (林佳樹)
  3. Hans LINDAHL
  4. GACKT (大城 ガクト)
  5. hide (松本秀人)
  6. Hayao MIYAZAKI (宮崎駿)
  7. Jonathan VAN NESS
  8. Haruki MURAKAMI (村上春樹 )
  9. Yojiro NODA (野田洋次郎)
  10. Chachamaru (藤村幸宏)

Recently, I’ve been going back to a lot of my old and steady favorites, especially in music. I think I really need that right now. So there hasn’t been that much in the way of exploring new things, and nothing significant enough to warrant an entirely new entry into my list. For sure, that’s not in itself a bad thing. Doing this public check-in every ten weeks makes me want to have at least one new entry every time, and that does encourage me to keep broadening my horizons as an artist and a person, but it probably won’t always happen, and I know I need to make sure I’m making an authentic list each time and not being unduly influenced.

This time, hide is back on my list. I’ve been starting to listen to X Japan again, since that’s emotionally where I’m at, and I find their music both very painful and very healing. Hide is an inspiration to me for his personality and his skills as a guitarist and artist, made all the more salient by the tragic circumstances of his life and death. I’ve been learning his lead guitar part on the acoustic version of X Japan’s Rose of Pain. It makes me so sad, but also helps me feel better with where I’m at.

And now, what about you? What would your dinner party list look like right now? Who would you put on it and why? Follow the original rules, follow my version of the rules, or just do away with rules entirely – whatever list you make is still going to be important and telling, and I do think it’s a good project to do once in a while.

Right now, with a lot of folks in quarantine or in the hospital, a lot of people risking their lives in essential services, a lot of people losing their jobs and salaries and trapped inside with their families, it makes sense for a lot of people to be feeling stuck. But it’s important that we all do our best to keep moving forward. Keep your eyes on the horizon, that’s what I think – and dinner party is a great project for making sure that that’s the case.

Take care of yourselves,

KT

Happy 50th Birthday, Sugizo

Here’s a birthday tribute for another musician I really like!

Fifty years old today, Sugizo plays lead guitar and violin and sings backing vocals for visual kei rock bands Luna Sea and X Japan. He also works with several other groups and is a renowned solo artist. He’s absolutely brilliant on the violin, and he does charismatic guitar improv on stage. His recent experiments into electronic-type music are also great, and I love his latest studio album Oneness M which features a different vocalist on each track. The video below, uploaded by Youtuber Daniel Branco, is track five, “Meguriaerunara,” on which Sugizo collaborated with vocalist Teru from the rock band Glay. Give it a listen:

Besides his music, Sugizo is also very well-known for being an activist for environmental sustainability, world peace, and human rights. Many celebrities, in Japan and elsewhere, don’t express their views on these issues and try not to get involved in anything that might be political or controversial; however Sugizo is not afraid to express his thoughts on what is important to him and what he believes should be important to all of us. Among other activist events, he has frequently participated in Peace on Earth and Earth Day Tokyo, and recently he powers his guitars and equipment on hydrogen fuel cells. He was also part of Sakamoto Ryuichi’s “No More Landmines” campaign, project Stop Rokkasho, and Greenpeace’s campaign to stop whaling in Japan. Further, he has been involved with volunteer and memorial work for the victims of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, and he has performed various times at camps for Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

What I admire most about Sugizo is how he consistently uses his art as a tool for activism. This can be seen in many of his songs such as “Enola Gay,” “Pray for Mother Earth,” and “No More Machine Guns Play the Guitar,” which I quoted previously in my post Stop the Killing. His work pushes me to use my writing, music, and artwork to advocate for the issues that matter to me.

If you like violin, or even if you haven’t listened to violin very much, here’s Sugizo’s beautiful performance of “Synchronicity” at a 2008 concert, uploaded by Youtuber EINxSOF:

Give some of his music a listen and see what you think! Happy 50th birthday, Sugizo – keep on doing what you do best, inspiring your fans to stand up for what is right.