What Only I Can Do
April 4th, 2015. The opening ceremony of Kinki University had ended.
As my congratulatory address was being displayed on the screen, I found myself thinking about the long, winding road I’d taken to get where I stood.
I thought about my beginnings as that ordinary young man from Osaka. I had my professional debut as the vocalist of a band called Sharan Q. I became an idol group producer. I became the president of an entertainment business company. I met my wife. I got married. I became the father of three irreplaceable children. At times I was so busy, I didn’t even have time to sleep. I was a carefree user of cigarettes and alcohol. I was diagnosed with cancer and I had to have my vocal cords removed.
I’d be lying if I said I had no regrets regarding the path I’ve taken in life. But as I was standing up there on the podium, I felt happy from the bottom of my heart. Physically I was standing there on the stage by myself, but I felt like my family was up there with me, all of us holding hands together.
I’m not alone. For as long as one is alive, they will be presented with countless of new doors they have the choice of opening. “Don’t think of this as having been a mistake. Don’t think about how you should’ve done something differently. Don’t regret the past. All of us make mistakes, but at the end of the day, you should feel glad that this is the path you’ve taken. It’s thanks to all of us walking on those paths that we’re all right here, right now. That’s why you’re experiencing what you’re experiencing right now. That’s why you’ve had the chance encounters of your life. Let us all live our lives in a manner that allows us to feel this way!” That’s what was running through my mind. I was, of course, saying those words to myself as well.
My Final Message
On October 6th, the day after Morning Musume’s New York performance, our family boarded a plane headed back to Narita.
Just like on the flight over there, I couldn’t stop producing whinging noises from my throat as I breathed. I don’t think my throat was any more swollen than it had been on the way there, but simply knowing that this pressure I felt in my airways was cancer made breathing considerably more difficult.
“Are you okay? Do you want some water?“, my wife asked me worriedly. Nothing seemed to make my breathing any easier. I already knew perfectly well that I would have to undergo surgery to get rid of this newly metastasized cancer — and surgery meant removing a part of my larynx along with the cancer. “Can they do it by cutting off just a part of it, or will they have to take it all…?“
Even thinking about it as optimistically as I could, I knew they’d probably have to remove at least the left vocal cord. “How much of a voice does one have left when you take away half their vocal cords? Will I still be able to sing if I do lots of rehabilitation? Maybe I could still do something with my voice, even if only at karaoke. But if the cancer has spread further than that… Oh, gods of song, will I not be able to sing any more? I wanted to keep singing forever. If you’re going to take singing from me, then please, please, at least let me have half a voice.” I was praying in my heart the entire way home.
A Ban On Chemicals
We finally held our wedding ceremony in August 2006 at the Nishi Hongan-ji Temple in Kyoto. It was an extremely hot day with perfectly clear skies — we felt like we were melting in our kimonos, but we were both very happy. We were grateful to have lots of relatives and people from work watching over us, making it feel like a proper ceremony.
But the fact of the matter is, my physical health was at its all-time worst.