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Essay “The Sound of the Heart”

September , 2020
Concerts that began to move, and Shinkansen that did not move.

Concert events have finally started moving.
The audience seats are arranged so that appropriate social distances are secured, with disinfectants placed everywhere, and everyone wearing masks and face shields.
August 1st in Saga, 22nd in Toyama and an online concert by a bank, and charity concerts…Concerts have begun in many places and it seems that August passed almost without exact memories about them, as I was busy experiencing a fresh sense of tension and joy.

Yes, I had been dreaming about this scene for the past 5 months, over and over. A dream full of joy being finally back on stage again.
Or on the contrary, I dreamed that I was trying to get to a concert venue but couldn’t reach that place. I run around, looking for the venue in a rush as the audience were waiting for me―and I would wake up sweating.

On the stage for the first time in 5 months, dream and reality crossed over like a déjà-vu. The spotlight was so bright, and I played with my eyes closed and asked myself many times, “Is this a dream?”
The audience listened to my music with their masks on. It was such a pleasure to see them all smiling and clapping their hands so hard, behind their masks.
Performance ended before I even knew it and I moved on to play the encore, wondering if it was a dream.
I didn’t want the performance to end and wished that the moment would last forever, and there was sadness when it had to end. I couldn’t help feeling so emotional, seeing the audience who stood up to applaud.

It is my 45th debut anniversary this year, a year in which I am forced to continuously ask myself what the most important thing is in life, like the limited communication between people, connecting, touching and talking to one another, due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Could it be a god-given time to rest, or it is a message from him saying, “take a look at yourself”?
I may have forgotten the overflowing desire to play music for a while.
Concerts were held as a matter of course, and the concerts came before I thought deeply about today and tomorrow.
And now, it reminded me of how much I needed music, and how indispensable it is.
Every day I feel from the bottom of my heart, I want to cherish each of the concerts that I will be doing and weave them with my soul towards the future.

This August also saw, after a long time, trouble in travelling to the concert venue.
On August 22nd, I boarded on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to travel back home after Toyama’s concert. The train stopped just 10 minutes after its departure. A plastic greenhouse collided with the Shinkansen due to strong wind and rain, at the next station on the way. The greenhouses were scattered all over the rail track and got tangled in the power lines, and the station staff began to remove them in the storm, but there was no hope for an immediate restoration.
I was stuck on the train and was handed out a bottle of water and a protein bar.
I asked the conductor when they would be moving, but he had no information at all.
It couldn’t be helped.
All we could do was to sit on the train. It would have taken 40 minutes to get to Nagano station from Kurobe Unazuki Onsen, but it took us five hours to reach there. I got off the train and checked into a hotel, as I heard the train staff repeatedly announcing that they could not tell when they would be up and running again.
Usually, I would have been annoyed, but somehow, I could stay calm probably because I felt that even such trouble was a refreshing experience.