Friday, December 18, 2015

Arashi and the Reason Why

Maybe it doesn't make sense to anyone but myself 
(and maybe other Arashians):  
I have learned more about 
becoming a responsible person 
from Arashi than from anyone.  
They are a particular grace in my life.

At yesterday's Japonism Tour concert in Fukuoka, 
Sakurai Sho was a prime example 
of that beautiful spirit.

source:  quintoemail; credit to the owner

Actually, it bothers Sho-kun a lot when someone mocks and laughs at him, but he never shows it publicly. He will laugh it off and play a fool himself so that the person won’t look bad on TV. It’s a form of strength that I don’t possess, that’s why when I observe him from the side, I always think “Sho-kun is amazing”“ - Ohno Satoshi.


Wrote the following a week or two ago but I thought twice about posting it.  Maybe it's just time to be brave enough to share......

On the path that continues forever
Facing tomorrow and shining, 
we'll continue chasing this dream
Going forward and shouting until our voices are hoarse
This is the movement, looking for my life, I can find myself
(song:  Believe)

Every day I wear a necklace with two Yen coins as a reminder of an unusual grace and an answer to prayer.

The gold-color 5 Yen is the coin most generally dropped into prayer offering boxes in Japan, partly because the name of the coin sounds like the word meaning "good fortune."  The silvery 50 Yen coin makes a pretty chiming sound when the two strike together.

I'm sure you've heard of the Pit of Despair.  Well, that's where I was living full time, and I couldn't get out.  Finally I prayed, seriously prayed, and I asked God to either give me something joyful or get me off the planet.  I meant it.  I was utterly empty.

He sent me an unexpected answer, and I'm sure that it was an answer because immediately after I prayed, through a strange chain of impossible circumstances (including a mis-spelled word), I found Arashi's TV comedy variety shows online and they made me laugh.  I laughed until I was breathless.  I laughed until I pounded my feet on the floor and clapped my hands for joy.  Real joy.  And my heart changed, not easily perhaps and not overnight, but it changed.  My relationship with God was the stronger for it.

I feel kinda embarrassed saying that a Japanese pop group made a difference like that.  But I have heard many similar stories over and over again from a number of other people.  Arashi changes people, influences them for good, helps them heal their lives--lots of people in lots of countries, all different ages, different races and religions.  Kids who had trouble studying, teenage girls who were cutting, boys who were bullied, people on the brink of suicide, sick people, old people, couples in turmoil.  Arashi isn't speaking about God or religion but about hope and simply working hard without giving up.  Its stuff that people need to hear; it's encouragement and understanding.

A sorrowful sky above a battlefield I can hear it
 Something will change on this night.....
You being here is my courage
Hey! No matter how loud of a voice
Hey! You call out your love
The sadness won't come to an end
Hey! Let's go to welcome it I'll be by your side
When this night opens to a new day, 
very soon something will start to move
(song:  Ai Wo Utauo) 

Sadness won't come to an end.  That's being really real, isn't it?  And going forward to face it down? That's strength.  We need someone to believe with us that we can actually do that.  That's Arashi.

I was watching the Arashi members inteview random people on a TV show a few years back.  A woman grabbed the hand of one of the guys and held it in both of hers.  She said, "I'm 80 years old, and I'm alive because of you."  

After the dreadful Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, a girl waited in her car for three days for rescue.  When asked what she did, how she survived during that time, she said that she listened to Arashi on her MP3 player to give her hope--voices that she could trust never to let her down. 

These are just two examples but I could tell  you of many, many more. 

That's a pretty big burden for those guys to carry, the hopes of so many people are riding on their shoulders.  They take it seriously.

During the current Japonism concert tour, the opening animation asks "How will you live your life?"  Nyonyo (an LJ blogger) reported what Ninomiya Kazunari (one of the Arashi members) said during greetings to the audience:  "during this performance, that question had been weighing on him more heavily this time. The concert was fun and it was important that we all have fun, but the question of "how will you live your life?" is something that you can only answer if you're truly working your hardest towards a single goal. Life is a journey where you're given countless options to pursue - he was grateful that the audience chose the option to spend time with them at such a busy time at the end of the year. He urged everyone to think about how we were living our lives and what options we could pursue, and for all of us to work our hardest as we lived our lives."  And later Matsumoto Jun, one of the other members, said similar things hoping that the concert would have "a ripple effect to the other people in our lives" and that it would continue having an influence.

Nyonyo also talked about her own response to this:   "The talk about energizing each other has always been a constant theme in aisatsu (greetings) through the years, but I loved Arashi taking it a step further and basically directing us to not let the concert end after one night but to keep letting it ripple into our real lives and go on forever that way. It would seem so silly if most other artists talked that way about their concerts, but Arashi concerts really are a treasure and things that ought to sound so pretentious end up making me cry and thinking anew that I wanna keep doing my best....."

Everybody is a challenger, fighting with doubts and illusions
Even if we get hurt, we'll keep believing 
That we'll grab hold of the light someday.....
By sharing broken pieces of happiness, past loves that hurt, 
it changes into bonds that link us
Our kindness is our pride Dignified and graceful 
Connecting these smiles to the future is our mission,
 don't you think?.....
Close your eyes Open your arms 
Embrace the wind, riding on wings of freedom
Dance, like a fierce storm 
(song:  Kokoro no Sora)

Me?  I learned my way from their comedy, and from watching their friendship--it astounded me that people could truly support one another in the way that they do.  It was a couple of years before I listened to the music, and then it was an amazing added bonus.  Finally someone was saying the stuff that I desperately needed to hear, stuff that no one ever taught me, the things that make me want to do my best, too.

5 guys who still make me laugh nearly a decade later.  55 Yen on a necklace.  A prayer offering.  Good fortune.  A lovely chiming sound.  I really do believe that God set me on this path, that he has given me Arashi as joy to help me along the way and to bring me closer to Him.  It still doesn't make sense, does it?  Yeah, it doesn't have to.  I'm reminded every time the coins chime of the love of God and of the gift of joy.  I'm truly thankful.  And I'm moving forward.

(song translation credit to Yarukizero)

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