This may come as a surprise, but my dad is filling in as this month’s guest.
My dad looks ten years younger than his age, and is both industrious and thorough. He cleans the house and does the laundry of his own volition. He also seems to enjoy cooking (whether he’s any good is another matter), and his homemade salted squid is his self-proclaimed specialty.
He’s a man whose great passion for his work is matched by his love for his family. Even those times I’m recording in the studio until the wee hours, regardless of how late it gets he’ll drive to the studio to pick me up. His work takes him away from Tōkyō and overseas often, but no matter where he goes he always puts in a call to Mom every evening.
He drinks beer every day. He loves martial arts just like I do, and he often quips, “If I was just 10 centimeters [4 inches] taller I would have been a pro wrestler.” His voice is loud. He’s great at singing. And at whistling, too. He’s OK on the guitar. He gives heartfelt compliments for my mom’s cooking, but his vocabulary is limited to “delicious” and “fragrant”. Every year on their wedding anniversary and Mom’s birthday, he never fails to come home with a bouquet of flowers.
This series has at last reached the eigth person. I’ve had people from various walks of life participate, and I tried asking my father for his answers partly for the fun of it, thinking it would be a surprising twist for “Dad” to show up in this list. But in the end, the one who was actually surprised by this guest was me and me alone. But you can read on for yourself.
1) What was your first impression of Maaya Sakamoto?
I was away on business in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia when I got word that it was a girl, and I practically jumped out of my shoes. Mom wrote in a letter several days later, “She has a voice fit for a microphone.” But thinking about that now, your mother’s instinct was spot-on. Besides, would you normally put that in a letter?
Afterwards I spent my time under the Kuala Lumpur sky racking my brain for a name, which I brought with me when I returned home.
Upon our meeting I realized, “Ah, this face matches this name perfectly,” and ever since, you’ve been called Maaya. !!??
2) Does Maaya Sakamoto take after her dad, or her mom?
My buddies say things like, “It’s a good thing she’s not like her dad, huh?” I think you definitely took after your mom when you were young, but recently it’s occurred to me that you’ve started to look like your old man. Such a shame, or is it? I wonder what the person in question thinks. You don’t need to answer that question.
3) As her father, share one of your “Legends of Maaya Sakamoto”.
Since both your mom and I were working when you were born, I took part in chores and babysitting. You went right to sleep when I cradled you in my arms, so I thought I’d put you to bed and have some time for myself, but you always started to cry when I left your side. I figured maybe you were a light sleeper, so I let you sleep in my arms for a good while and waited until you were sound asleep…but it still didn’t work. Every time, you started crying the moment I stepped away. I always lost that battle, so on days when it was my turn to do the chores, I spent the whole day either carrying you on my back or in my arms. I couldn’t bear to leave you alone when you were crying…. Ever since then I’ve never been able to win against you.
4) What is your daughter’s selling point?
I suppose the way you look when you’ve got your head down, silently pressing toward a set goal and taking one steady step after another.
5) Is there actually something you haven’t yet told your daughter?
I don’t think so. I have to have at least some secrets, you know.
6) Anything you wish she’d stop doing?
When you leave the house and forget something, please don’t go back to your room without taking off your shoes. Even if you’re walking on tiptoe, or making some weird shouting noise, just don’t.
7) Maaya Sakamoto is like _____.
Compared to light, you’re like the colorless, transparent light from the sun that gazes on the Earth.
When you separate it out, it becomes a rainbow of colors.
8) What do you hope for from her future husband?
I hope he’ll cherish you.
9) What do you anticipate for Maaya Sakamoto’s future?
A new discovery of yourself.
10) Lastly, please write a word or two for Maaya.
I doubt there are many who have been blessed with meeting such a wonderful person as you. I hope you’ll never lose sight of your feelings of gratitude and humility as you walk steadily and leisurely on the path of your choosing.
Maaya Sakamoto’s Response
I told my dad, “Jeez, you went a little overboard with the compliments, don’t you think?” and he replied, “I wasn’t trying to compliment you.” Hahaha, he’s just embarrassed, I thought as I read over it again, but wait—there aren’t really many parts where’s he’s complimenting me. But for some reason I get the feeling I’m being praised. In any case, I had anticipated my dad would feel too embarrassed to write any serious answers, but he spent three days in an all-out struggle with a laptop computer he had just bought just to come up with a response.
Being a daughter—and I think most daughters have experienced this—means there’s a time in your mid-teens when you start to feel, for no reason in particular, a little resentful toward your dad. I had a time like that myself. But that time eventually passes. Today, in my first year of being a full-fledged adult, I’ve realized anew how well my dad (and of course my mom, too) has taken care of our family. My brother, who got married this year, said, “I’m grateful to my parents for raising me to this point.” My dad treasures my mom, and they often go on drives or to movies or plays with each other, and when I see that I’m filled with happiness.
By the way, I was compared to “light” during this, and since my dad works in stage lighting, I think this is where it came from.
Asking for responses to this entry’s questions let me see my dad’s candid words in print for the first time, and that makes me feel like I’ve discovered a new side to him. The answer that made me happiest was the one for question #8—it was entirely unlike what I expected to see, but I feel like it’s the best thing to say, and at the same time it feels like there are many different thoughts wrapped up in it.
So with that, we’ve heard comments from the person who, out of all those interviewed in this series, has been around me for the longest time, and perhaps you could see a side of me you wouldn’t otherwise find? Maybe?