Can you see in the back? Wow. Can you see from the top row? That’s amazing. I can’t believe this many people came to my birthday party. (laugh) I don’t suppose this’ll ever happen twice. (laugh) Thank you very much.
But you know, actually, it really doesn’t feel like it’s my birthday. It kind of went like, “I have a concert on my birthday,” “I have a concert on my birthday,” “I have a concert,” “I have a concert,” and it was like the only thing I was thinking about was the concert. The fact that it was my birthday just slipped my mind. So, as the days went by I’d randomly remember, “Oh right, in a few more days…” and yesterday, I had the last day of my 20s, but with the following day on my mind, I’m always nervous, and I have trouble sleeping the night before, so I thought I’d go to bed early, and at half past eleven or so I crawled into my futon.
And then, around midnight I started getting all these texts for some reason, and it was like, “How am I supposed to sleep now? What’s going—oh, it’s my birthday.” (laugh) Sorry—I got a text from Mr. Ishinari too. (laugh) Mr. Ishinari, who’s playing the guitar today, texted me at around 12:01, which was sweet, but I was already asleep. So I woke up today on the verge of inadvertently forgetting completely about my own birthday, but now that I’m here, of course the outfit looks like this, this—gift. I’m the gift.
(applause, shouts of “Cute!”)
Cute? Cute? Say it louder. (laugh)
(applause, continued shouts of “Cute!”)
Thank you so much. Sorry. I apologize. But really, this outfit—can you call this an outfit? Isn’t this a costume? But it has these boxes stuck to it all over, like a gift, like I’m giving myself. (laugh)
How much would you pay? She’ll go to the first buyer, but she’s not cheap—something like that. (laugh) But I guess, with this, staying on the birthday idea, today I’m trying on things I wouldn’t normally wear, and if this is your first time seeing me today you might be surprised. If it isn’t your first time seeing me you might be surprised. (laugh) Although even in my 30s the hem of my skirt is trending steadily upward.
But you know, while I’m saying that I’m close to forgetting about my birthday, none of you have this sort of birthday that, from a while back sneaks up on you little by little like the way my birthday has on me this year, but…I have an official mobile web site; are there any members here? Thank you very much. Thank you. I think you who are members know this, but typically about ten days before some big release we’ll do a countdown—“10 more days,” “9 more days”—counting down has become a standard thing for me, but as for where I’m going with this, well, I’m a member too. If I don’t sign up I can’t view my own site, so I pay 315 yen each month, and my mom, as it turned out, about ten days ago, wrote this e-newsletter along the lines of, “I’d like to send this to everyone as I count down the days of Maaya’s life from her birth until today,” and it started showing up on my phone (laugh), and the first one was something like, “When she was born the cherry trees were in full bloom,” and so on and so forth, and she wrote things like, “In kindergarten such-and-such happened,” “Tomorrow I’ll write about Maaya when she was three,” and for “tomorrow” there would be this sort of, this kind of emoticon, and it showed up every day, but no matter how you sliced it, she wasn’t going to get to the end in ten days. And so (laugh), in the message from this morning, it went like, “Well, a lot happened, and she grew up in fine fashion through junior high and high school,” and it made this huge jump. (laugh) You cut out a lot of stuff there, mom. And she ended with, “So then, have a great concert.” Anyway, thanks to my mom’s countdown I could have a vague sort of looking back on my life as I got ready for today.
So I’ve been talking about how this is my 15th anniversary, and in my mind it doesn’t seem that long, and as I’m saying this, there’s a side of me that wonders, “Has it really been that long?”—from my perspective it went by in a flash, but saying “It’s my 15th anniversary,” “I’m putting out an album,” and during the many interviews I’ve participated in, I have to admit that as I’m answering the questions put to me in the interviews, there have been a lot of times when I recall things, or realize, “Ah, so this is what I was thinking,” or recognize something.
And it’s always…been this kind of thing I knew, but taking a fresh look at it now, I really think that in my life, including these 15 years, in the 30 years of my life, I’ve never had anything else going for me save for how much I’ve been truly blessed with the people I’ve met, those fortunate chance encounters, and how I’ve met so many really wonderful people, I’ve been taught so much, and influenced, and watched over, and I’ve gotten this far on the support of others. Just this, really, it makes me think that I’ve had a life full of good luck in my encounters, and I’ve never felt more deeply than I have on this birthday that I have to really be thankful for those around me. Of course, being here today, with you who came to see the concert, standing up here and having such a huge number, a crowd of people be here despite it being a weekday, despite it being the busy time at the end of the [fiscal] year, it makes me feel deep down that this is truly my most valuable possession.
And so I’d like to introduce to you here the band members who are performing with me today.
(applause for each introduction)
This is the band we have. All of them are people I truly love. As I reflect on the joy of being surrounded by those I love, here’s the next song—please listen.