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Essay “The Sound of the Heart”

April , 2024
The Light in the Darkness

Are encounters in our lives predetermined by chance or inevitability, or do we decide for ourselves…?
I am here now by various encounters.
The big and important encounter that saved me was NHK’s major news programme,
“World Network-The World Now”
Mr. Hisanori Isomura was the anchor man who at the time was tremendously popular for his immense ability and great presence. I worked as his sub-anchor for two precious years.

Since I had been playing the violin from the age of two, I had no connection whatsoever to such media people or news programmes. I never imagined being involved in a news programme, as the only link I could think of was occasionally watching the news on TV as a general viewer.
One day, I received a phone call out of the blue, inquiring “Would you like to stand next to Isomura-san as a sub-anchor of the cultural section of a news programme?” and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
It was a time when I had just graduated from university but was in the worst shape of my life. I had lost my confidence in performing on stage as a violinist and had been frustrated for several years, unable to find a way to get back on my feet. I was in a state where I could not trust other people or myself, and I thought that offer would be an impossible task for me.
But my parents said “This could be the necessary work for Mariko now” and encouraged me to take the job and do my best.
At the time, I hated talking to people, and when I was asked questions, I tried answering using the most minimal words possible. It might be difficult to imagine now, but I rarely smiled in front of anyone other than my friends, and people often thought that I was glaring at them.
Even my father said “I don’t know what this child is thinking”, so how could I have stood in front of the camera and talked to it?

The first thing that Isomura-san taught me was, “Try considering that there is someone important and close to you on the other side of the camera, and talk to that person.” At the time, it was difficult for me to think of someone important and close to me, and the TV staff often pointed out the fact that my hands were wandering around helplessly in front of the camera. I didn’t know where to place my hands properly, without holding my instrument.
During the cultural interviews abroad, I had to get my three minutes of local commentary taped 47 times, and it had become a big topic among the editing staff in Japan.
“I hate doing this which I’m not good at! I’m going to quit when I get back to Japan!” and returned to the studio with tears in my eyes but again, was soothed by Isomura-san’s warm words.
“The fact that you tried so many times is so hard to do. It shows that you know what effort means. You examined the words and devised a comment each time, which is the correct thing to do. You will surely reach people’s hearts by finding your own way of speaking.”
I think I was gradually able to grow up, having changed my mind to try again.
The producer and other members of the press staff asked me what I thought each time I came back from a coverage trip abroad. And their way of thinking “Why is that? What would you do? Why do you think they said that?” deeply delved into my thoughts and made me rethink.
I also learnt how to write articles at this time.
I would go abroad once a month for 10 days, write a report of over 5000 words on the plane back home, submit it to the producer on my return, and then the news film would be edited based on my report.
I had learnt so much from the whole process as though I was attending some kind of university and was able to regain confidence with a supple set of mental muscles and thought that I would never be broken again.

Now, as I visit various places to do concerts as a violinist and have encounters in many different ways, I suddenly think, wondering what would have happened to myself if I had not had that encounter with the news programme. I doubt if I would have been able to stand firmly on my own feet or not.
After Isomura-san passed away at the end of last year, the TV staff at the time and the aged NHK press members gathered at his farewell party in March this year. I am once again filled with deep gratitude towards all of them.

You can watch a digest video from that time on NHK Archives.

NHK Archives
“World Network-The World Now”