Friday, November 22, 2013

Paul McCartney in Japan, 2013


Paul McCartney's concerts were a rare opportunity for Japanese fans. Paul has only held his or his band's concert in Japan 5 times in the 51years since The Beatles debut to this year, 2013. Therefore, I prepared something special for his concerts in November, 2013.

First, I did my best to take time off in order to attend all six concerts in Japan. The first and second concerts were held in Osaka Dome, which is located near my office. However, the other venues are a long way from my office. Fukuoka Dome is 500km West of my office, and Tokyo Dome is 500km East of my work place. It is almost the same distance as from London to Edinburgh, or New York to Niagra Falls. Therefore, I had to take days off. It isn't easy to take days off during the working week for Japanese businessmen. Fortunately, I could take enough day off to see Paul's concerts with my co-workers and clients understanding and smiling.

Then, 38 fanatical friends of mine and I, made red T-shirts which you can see below. They express our delight at Paul's first visit to Japan in 11 years.

The "McCartney weeks", as I like to call them, from the first concert on 11/11/2013 to the last one on 21/11/2013, have come and gone. I have written down my personal impression and experiences from these weeks.

General Impressions

Paul is so young and energetic. He sung his songs, in the same key as he did 50-years ago, with no water and very little rest. He depends not only on his talent, but also his good health. I recognize that good health is an important base for good work.

If his condition was not so great, his concerts would still be fantastic, because the songs he composed were fantastic.

He has a tremendous numbers of fans. Some of them are very good friends of mine. His concerts were a rare and precious opportunity to see them. My group of friends included people who hadn't seen each other since Paul's last concert in Japan, in 2002. What's more, Paul gave me a new opportunity to meet new friends at these concerts. Paul's music makes me happy, not only by how good it sounds but also because I can socialise with many amazing people. I think this is great.

I really appreciate Paul's consideration. He made many speeches in Japanese. One of his first speeches in Japanese was, "I will manage to speak in Japanese on this stage, but actually I'm good at English". In addition to this, he spoke in different Japanese dialects according to the area where the venue was located. Sometimes he spoke English, but at that time, Japanese subtitles appeared on big screens on stage. I have never known any other foreign musician to make such an effort. We enjoyed his showmanship and appreciated his consideration, along with his music. I think that he is taken for granted and should be more popular worldwide.

Special Memories

November 12th: 2nd concert in Osaka

I went to this concert with my six-year-old son. He lives with me, and since I frequently play Paul's CDs and DVDs, he has become a fan of Paul. When I asked him, "Do you wanna go to Paul's concert?", he quickly replied, "Yes! Yes!". Therefore, I got two tickets for that night. However, I had thought that the concert would be too long for him. After all, it wasn't for children. I had thought my son would get tired or bored and say, "I wanna go home."

However, my son enjoyed Paul's songs from the first to the last (so he could get a good nights sleep for going school the following day, I had to go with him before the encore). He jumped up when Paul began to sing his brand new single, "NEW". He also enjoyed, "All Together Now", because of his memories of when he first saw the animated movie, "Yellow Submarine". My son was astonished at the flames and fireworks on stage for the 007 theme song, "Live and Let Die". On his way home, he said, "I enjoyed the concert! I love Paul!!", repeatedly. Because of his comments and smile, I was on cloud nine.

November 15th: 3rd concert in Fukuoka

I got a close to look at the Tour Trucks.

Shaking hands with Paul's bronze hand made my day on my first visit to Fukuoka in 1993.

Paul shouted, "saiko!", again and again on stage that day. 'Saiko', does not mean 'psycho'. It has similar pronunciation, but means, terrific/fantastic.

November 18th: 4th concert in Tokyo

Tokyo is located closer to Fukushima than the other concert venues. Even now, 140,000 people who once lived in Fukushima had to evacuate and cannot go back to their homes after the big earthquake and nuclear plant accident in 2011. Paul gave a message to people from Fukushima and sung, "Yesterday".

Subtutile: "I dedicate the next song to Fukushima people…"

A friend of mine who lived close to Fukushima (the roof of his house was broken by the earthquake) said he was moved by Paul's message.

November 19th: 5th concert in Tokyo

I purchased a Sound Check ticket for this day. I was able to see Paul's rehearsal and was guaranteed front rows seats in the same venue as the main concert. The price was 80,000yen (800 dollars / 480 pounds / 560 euro). It was expensive for me, but I think it was worth the price.

The rehearsal was the same quality as the main concert. Paul and his band played some different songs to the main concert. The set list of the rehearsal changed every day, and many songs played on that day were old rock n' roll and blues songs. He seemed to be relaxed while singing and playing songs that he had listened to in his teenage years.

On this day, he was late for the Sound Check because of heavy traffic. He said, "Sorry, it's Kennedy traffic". His way from the hotel to the venue was affected by cars being controlled because of the new-appointed U.S. ambassador of Japan, Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of the slain president. He gave all of us guitar picks as a token of apology. It was a special token given only on this day, a small one, but nonetheless a big souvenir for me and other fans.

My seat was in the midst of the 55,000 seats of the gigantic Tokyo dome! I was in the 4th row!

I had a great experience and cannot explain it in words.

I saw a halolike light when Paul was alone on stage and sung "Blackbird", which was explained by Paul as a song of support for the civil-rights movement for black Americans in the 60s.

November 21th: the last concert in Tokyo

In the morning, my wife made these sandwiches even though she isn't Paul's biggest fan. Her lovely idea and concern made me even happier.

(below is Paul's brand new album , "NEW".)

The promotion company for this concert gave red bar-shaped lights to all 55,000 audience members. This present included a piece of paper that said: "This is a surprise present for Paul. When he begins to sing "Yesterday", pick it up and wave it. Never use it before this. Thank you for co-operating."

Paul was obviously surprised at this scene.

The last song "The End", made me sad and moved me. I decided to stamp the scene forever in my mind. When he stop playing the guitar,his guitar was pulled to his body. It was the last of his playing. When he went downstairs off to the side of the stage, his hands were raised up to his breast. I wish it was not the last scene of Paul for me.

I drunk with many fanatical friends after every concert. In particular, the last one was the most impressive event. I saw close friends, friends I hadn't seen in a long time, and foreign fans. When a Korean fan and I talked together we both said, "Between the Korean government and the Japanese one, the relationship isn't good these days. However, we can both enjoy talking about the same musician peacefully". I felt the great power of his music!

I'm grateful to Paul, the members of the band, the stage crew, promoters, my co-workers and clients. In particular, all my fanatical friends, fans who I met for the first time, and my family. These "McCartney weeks" were a special memory in my life.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

I don't agree with the article "Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex?"

Why have young people in Japan stopped having sex? - Guardian

I sometimes see such articles about Japan from only one viewpoint. The contents of this article may be true, however, only about a few young Japanese people, not all of them. I'm disappointed that such an article appeared in a respected newspaper.

Whenever I see such articles and opinions, I recall the book;
Edward W. Saïd "Orientalism" (Wikipedia) (Amazon)

I understand that it is easy to read and trust information from trusted news sources such as the Guardian. I also wonder, if I myself, have some prejudice towards people from foreign cultures and wish to be aware of this. I think it's important to do thorough research before forming opinions about a culture and hope people who read about Japan will do the same.

FYI: I think that the following links are proper comments for the Guardian's articles.
The Guardian's (Mis)guide To Japanese Sex Trends - Global Voices
Sex myths without substance: Mislabelling Japan - The Independent