In Search of Lost Love (Ushinawareta Ai wo Motomete): Chapter 1 – Loss

Early Childhood

Father’s Death

I have almost no memories of my father. There are only about ten that I can recall.

Yoshii Child Photo With Dad
Yoshii with his father in Asukayama Park

My father was a traveling performer. He met my mother in Shizuoka, just before going on the road, and they got married. He stopped working as a traveling performer when I was born, and since his father lived in Tokyo, we moved to Kita Prefecture there. He never went to school, so he couldn’t get a very good job and ended up working in an iron factory. He’d gone to a job in Saitama, and we heard that he’d fallen off of a roof and was taken to the hospital. So my mother and I left immediately. I wonder how conscious he was at that point? He did talk to me from his bed. For some reason I remember that he gave his watch to my older cousin, who was probably in middle school at the time. It was something like large diver’s watch, but even as a kid I thought “Oh, he’s going to die”. I wanted to ask him why he didn’t give the watch to me, but I was probably too young.

Even when we were having the funeral service at home, I didn’t really understand that he was dead. During the cremation I sat in the waiting room drinking orange juice. Then they called me in, and I saw that he was just bones. But I still didn’t really understand that those bones were my father, I just picked them up with my mother. I even split up the hyoid bone and thought that it was just a large bone from someone else’s body. I remember very clearly carrying that bone back home with me: The shape of the hyoid bone resembles a person sitting cross-legged. Then I realized that this was my father. I remember saying something like “He’s gone, isn’t he?”. But I didn’t feel sad. As I was carrying that bone home, it made a rattling sound inside of the can that it was in. And when I think about it, it shouldn’t have made any sound at all since it was wrapped in cotton or something. When I told my mother, she said “That can’t be. Come on, let’s go home.”, as we headed up a set of about twenty concrete steps that I used to play on a lot as a kid, about fifty meters away from our apartment.

I still remember the dream that I had that night very well. It was of a ship disappearing far beyond the horizon of the ocean. My father’s face was floating there, and he said “I guess this is goodbye”. I couldn’t perceive death like an adult, but I accepted it as something very important in my own childish way. My grandmother told me “Your father is a star in the sky now. When you grow up and become a great person, you’ll see him again” as though it was a given. I really took that in. I haven’t dreamt about him since. My mother dreams of him often, but it only happened once for me.

Yoshii Baby Photo

He was only just 26 years old when we lost him, and was both a bad and kind person. He would hit me sometimes and my mother would get angry, asking “Why would you hit such a little boy!?”. And he’d just say something like “Sorry”. I never once saw him fight with my mother though. He was a very scary, bad and kind person. I guess we’re a little bit alike in that way. I’m almost twice his age now, but my image of him hasn’t changed. He’s still a scary person to me. Whenever I do something bad, even now I still think “He’s probably really mad”.

Whenever I talk to someone who lost a parent at a young age, they’ll usually also say that it wasn’t such a big deal for them at the time. I imagined that it would be like…losing half of my body or something. But after grieving we moved back to where my mother’s parents lived in Shizuoka, and the feelings of loss became a lot bigger.

The Scenery in Kita Prefecture

Since I live in Tokyo, it’s easy for me to get to Kita Prefecture, but I imagine it as being somewhere far away. As a place like Russia, or somewhere that I can’t get to very often. Whenever I go there, I see that it hasn’t changed at all. It’s the kind of place that makes me think “Hasn’t there been any growth here!?”.

Across from the apartment we were living in at at the time, there was a girl around the same age as me. Her family worked as lapidaries or something. You can see through the window that the house is a complete mess, but it’s still there even though no one’s living in it. It looks like someone could have moved out in the middle of the night. This makes me think even more that time has stopped there since my father died so long ago. I said “The scenery there makes me feel unhappy” in an interview a long time ago. I think I see Kita Prefecture as being a place that waited for my father’s death.

We lived in a district called Juujou just off of Kannana Ave., but we moved to two different places in Juujou. In the last apartment that we lived in, there was a Chinese restaurant in back. My father really loved their katsudon, and I guess he would always say “This is so good!” whenever he ate it. You could see one of our apartment’s windows from the kitchen there, so I would go out on the veranda and call out to the owner or his wife. I went back there again last year, for the first time in about 38 years. When I told them “I used to live in back there”, they said “Really!?”. They remembered me, and said something like “You were so small and cute, and you used to call out to us”. Then I asked them about my father. Apparently katsudon was expensive back then, so they told me that when my father would order it my mother would get a little angry. She’d say things like “Why are you ordering katsudon when we don’t have much money!?” or “You’re so selfish”. I guess we’re a little bit alike in that way too. Seeing a glimpse of my father as I never knew him, I had some katsudon myself and thought “This is reallly good!”. As I read some book that you often find in restaurants like “10 Lessons From My Dad”, I wondered if my own dad said these things too. It really felt like I went to that restaurant to meet him.

There are some specific spots in Kita Prefecture that I remember. When my mother heard about my father falling from that roof, her expression changed and she ran out the door in sandals or something. There was this metal rod by an apartment that was just built that I would grab onto and swing on. Or the cigarette shop that I’d go to with my mother to buy Hi-Lites when my father said “Go buy me some cigarettes”. Then there was also the place that a good friend of mine at the time lived. It’s not like anything has changed with any of those places, but…it felt like I was visiting a grave when I went back to them. I still go back there about once every two years, and I’m not quite sure why. I just do. Was it last Spring that I went? Whenever I’m feeling stuck, I feel like there might be some kind of hint there. I’ve even been to the factory that my father used to work in. I wanted for there to be some kind of hint there too.

My father doesn’t have an actual grave. His remains have always been in the ossuary of a temple in Ikebukuro, but my mother paid a ridiculous amount of money to buy him a locker-sized grave near Mt. Fuji. My grandmother and father both have one there. I got really angry about it too. “Why would you buy a locker?! I’m the only one who could actually fit in it!”. Ha ha ha ha ha.

Since he didn’t have a real grave, I eventually started thinking that that’s basically his grave after all. It was like a grave that marked not only the point of my father’s death, but also the end of the end of my happy life. When I go there to visit him, I also go there to visit my younger self. I go wanting to know the answer to the question “What was this gloomy feeling inside inside of me when I was so lonely?”. I wonder if feelings of loss are actually the basis for how I express myself…I think they probably are. There are times when I lose things all on my own too though. But that’s karma for you!

The apartment that I have in Tokyo right now is about as old as I am. It looks like an old hospital, and it’s very relaxing! It has an iron door, like a lot of the old buildings in Chiyoda Prefecture do. I just can’t live in a brand new apartment. I’d always aspired to live in one, and when I finally did I ended up hating it right away. They feel like they’re built so cheaply. The place that I live now is great: It feels like an old music room, which is amazing. I really feel that it’s a place I can call my own.


To Shizuoka

Yoshii Child Photo 1

We moved to my mother’s hometown of Shizuoka when my father died. She couldn’t provide for us with just a regular job, so she started working in the nightlife industry. She was 26 at the time, and thinking about it now she was basically still just a girl. So she didn’t really prepare me that well for things like school. Back in Tokyo I actually really liked studying. Apparently I attended a kindergarten that actually gave tests, but I had really good grades. I was told I was at the top of my class, though it was my mother telling me that so it could have been a lie. But then when I moved, the things I was studying were completely different. There were tools that I usually used in math class, but they didn’t use any of them, and so this girl started picking on me. Thinking back on it, it was probably because she liked me. I am good looking after all! But people are more outspoken out in the sticks, and it hurt when they’d say things like “What do you mean you don’t have a dad?”. But the most shocking thing was when they’d say “Your mom’s a geisha, isn’t she?”. I’d say things like “She’s not a geisha, she’s a hostess!”.

My Tokyo values meant nothing here! I was just completely different from them. Going from Tokyo to Shizuoka was like being transported back in time to a city just after World War II. I’d think things like “Why are they using such boring stationary!?”. My hair was usually a bit long, and they’d make fun of me for it. But everyone else would just have either crew or bowl cuts. Bangs were supposed to be in, it was unbelievable! Anyway, I kept mostly to myself at school. I was very solitary all the way through middle school.

Living With My Mother

I was a really mamma’s boy when I was a kid, I was very clingy. But at some point she stopped touching me all that much. I wonder if she just refused to do it, though I’m not sure why. I thought that she must just be ignoring me. Looking back on it, she was determined that she had to play the role of a mother at that time, so she had to be harsh sometimes. I couldn’t see that as a child though.

Yoshii Child Photo With Mom 1

She was young, so she wanted to have some fun too. She’d been fairly poor up until that point, and I think she found herself with a little bit more money after she took on the job that she did. We started getting a lot of furniture, and were finally able to live in an expensive apartment. In my childish mind I thought we were doing well. My grandmother was there to look after me, so that made for a certain peace of mind. But she was probably about ready to burst. Even though we had a phone, I wasn’t allowed to use it because customers would call. It wouldn’t be good if her regulars knew she had a kid. Is it alright to say this? Because of things like that, I’d feel like I wasn’t allowed to do anything. I’d draw pictures and just go into my own little world, even though I wasn’t particularly depressed.

There was a used book store right near us that was run by an old man. My grandfather was never really a big part of my life, since he died when I was very young. So I would always go to that book store and chat with the guy who ran it. I think I was in third grade at the time? I really liked him, and the guy who ran the candy store next door too. I was probably looking for a replacement for my father.

It was at that book store that I found Go Nagai’s “Devilman” manga, and got really into it. The main character’s name was Akira Fudo, and my father’s first name was Akira. So I tied even that back to him. Looking back on it, that manga had all sorts of themes that I didn’t pick up on as a kid: Religion, reincarnation, and homosexuality. I just remember feeling like I could relate to it because it was a cruel story where the main character was losing everything. After all, I’d lost all sorts of things with my father’s death: My dad himself, and my happy life in Tokyo. My being an honor student and my mother being an object to cling to were both things that I lost back there too. At first I grasped a hold of the idea of my father’s death in the abstract way of him “being a star in the sky”, but it became very real after moving to Shizuoka.

Egg Noodles and the Arcade

My mother would go to work around 6 PM every day, so only my grandmother would be around at night. I spent a lot of time with her: We’d eat dinner together, watch TV together, then she’d go to bed. My mother wouldn’t get home until a little after midnight, so around second grade I discovered the arcade downtown.

I really didn’t like eating cold food. My mother would make dinner for me before she went to work, but she’d make it around 4 PM because it took time to prepare. But I’d play after school and wouldn’t get home until about 6 PM, so dinner would be cold. I still have lasting psychological effects from that today. I’m always mad when I go to a restaurant and the food comes out cold. I never say anything to the staff, but I’m never happy about it. It really gets my blood boiling! Whenever I get lukewarm curry or something, I think “Are you serious?”.

Yoshii Child Photo 3

This was right around when the microwave was introduced, so I said “Since we’re doing so well, buy a microwave for me!” to my mother. And she told me “We don’t have the money, so no!”. Then, since ramen is so hot just after you make it, I really liked making just Chinese egg noodles and eating them. Or sometimes I’d sometimes suspiciously go over to one of my three good friends’ places around dinner time, and I’d get to eat with them. When my mother was too busy to make dinner, she’d give me 500 yen and say “Make sure you eat something good”, so I’d often go to the nearby Chinese restaurant. I’d eat the 350 yen chicken rice there by myself.

I’d get really annoyed when I saw commercials for House Cream Stew. I’d think “No one has a family like that!” because I was making and eating dinner by myself in third and fourth grade. I’d even cook and eat things at my friends’ places, saying “I’m gonna go make something” and barging into the kitchen. Even now I cook for myself sometimes. I have a feeling that even when I’m fifty, cooking will be a hobby of mine. I’ll buy expensive knife sets, and that sort of thing.


The kid who went to the arcade with me had a father who owned a bar. Things were basically the same for him with his mother, and his home life was complicated. He was a pretty bad kid, and he was getting me to do bad things too. He’d say things like “Let’s steal something”. We moved to Shizuoka when I was in first grade, but at this point we lived in an apartment above a big supermarket. The next day after we moved into that apartment, I went to that supermarket with this kid. We stole some gum or chocolate or something, and quickly got caught. We said “We got caught, so let’s do it better next time”, so we stole a plastic figure from the candy store and got caught again. Since we were kids the guy there just said “Idiots! What are you doing?! Don’t let me see you doing that again!”, and didn’t tell our parents. I realized at the time that I was doing bad things.

Then I started stealing money from my grandmother’s wallet, and I couldn’t stop myself from doing that until sixth grade. It was like a drug! When I was going to sleep I’d lie there and think “How can I quit doing this? I’m definitely going to stop doing it!”, but of course I’d just do it again. At first I’d steal 200 yen or something, and spend it at the used book store. At that time one volume of manga cost about 200 yen, then I’d go to the candy store. I got a regular allowance from my mother, so it wasn’t that I wanted money but that I just wanted to steal. It was very thrilling to me. I’d take my grandmother’s wallet into the bathroom, take out some money, then put it back in her bag. I thought that she wouldn’t realize because of her age, but I gradually increased the amount that I took: 1000 yen, 5000 yen. At that point I think she realized what was happening, but she never said anything to me about it. I didn’t take money from my mother’s wallet, because I was sure she’d notice. But in sixth grade, I decided to take 500 yen from her, and she noticed. She hit me pretty hard, so I stopped doing all of that. I think I wanted someone to be angry with me for it, and was maybe looking for my mother to be angry most of all. But before that I couldn’t stop doing it, I just couldn’t.

Late Night Radio and “Yoake no Scat” (“Dawn Scat”)

At this point I was staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning listening to the radio. I’d listen to “All Night Nippon” about three days a week, Tsuruko Shofukutei and George Tokoro were my favorite DJs. My mother would get mad at me for doing it, but I’d put in earphones and keep listening when I saw my chance. She’d tell me “You can listen to it on Saturday or your next day off of school”. “All Night Nippon” would end at 3 in the morning in Shizuoka though. After that I’d always think to myself “How am I going to get myself to stop stealing”…

I was really pleasantly surprised when I heard them say that the address for sending in postcards was “Chiyoda Prefecture, Yuurakuchou…”! I thought, “Oh, so that’s where they are!”. I used to go to Asakusa a lot when we lived in Tokyo, because my grandmother sewed kimonos there. There are a lot of textile shops in Asakusa, and even strip clubs as well. She’d take me along to Ginza with her too. I love downtown areas in Tokyo at night. So then I really wanted to go to Yuurakuchou in Chiyoda Prefecture! I felt something exciting awaken in me.

Yoshii Child Photo 4

We went on school field trips to Tokyo in fifth and sixth grade, and after a show called “The Best Ten” had started airing, a feeling of really wanting to go back home to Tokyo had grown in me. A friend’s dad was a truck driver, and he sometimes took me with him when he had to go there for work. That friend, his dad, and I would drive through the night and listen to two radio shows that were popular with long distance truck drivers: “Utau Headlight” (“Singing Headlights”) and “Hashire Kayoukyoku” (“Go, Hit Songs!”). I forget which program it was, but one of them played a lot of older popular songs. As we were driving through Tokyo and listening to late night radio, Saori Yuki’s “Yoake no Scat” (“Dawn Scat”) came on. I think we were somewhere around Roppongi, but when that song came on I felt so happy. I thought “This is where I want to be! Where I want to live!”.

When we lived in Tokyo, Saori Yuki sang that song on some show like “Shabondama Holiday” (“Soap Bubble Holiday”) or something. On the night that they saw that, my mother and father…well they probably had sex. So I had very strange feelings toward that song. It kind of made me happy, and it kind of made me feel embarrassed. So I liked “Yoake no Scat” a lot. When I heard it again this many years later in Tokyo, it felt like those happy days were coming back again. They were back! But even when that song comes on the radio now, my body just stops. It has a strange power as a song, it’s very distinct.

Maybe it’s the strange reverb effect, or the strange echo effect. For me it’s the reverb of my memories…the reverb of Ginza and of Juujou. It’s probably even the reverb of that old metal rod by those apartments, but I still really love that song. I figured out that the reverb was different in popular music between the mid 60s and the 70s. But modern mixing consoles make things so different from then anyway.

Music Nerd

I really love old Japanese popular music. I was already obsessed with it in grade school. My mother had five or six siblings: One male and the rest female, my mother being the youngest of them. So when I’d stay at several different relatives’ houses, they’d have big stand-up stereos with record players in them at that time. So I’d see that this relative has this record, and that relative has that record, and I listened to them all a lot. One of her sisters liked Cool Five, another liked Saburo Kitajima, another liked Shinichi Mori, so I listened to those LPs all the time.

Kids my aged listened to groups like Finger 5 or Pink Lady, but I liked enka and easy listening too: Like Tokyo Romantica and Cool Five. There were some not as popular women singers that I liked too: Maggie Minenko and Kamonegi Ondo. Even listening to them now, they’re so risque! I sit there and think “How risque…”, like a kid listening to them in secret. And the sax is the unique element to moody music, isn’t it? I like it a lot! I can’t get enough of a wailing sax, it has such a distinct sentimental feeling to it. When I could listen to all sorts of different music freely later on in life, I’d recognize that those things were my roots when I’d come across them.

One of my mother’s older sisters lived near the ocean in Shizouka, in a place called Mochimune. I really loved going there and listening to enka. There was nothing like listening to it in a rundown port city…Just outside of Mochimune was a town called Yaizu, the town where the clinic that my mother and father met at was located. That was definitely the moment that I made the connection that songs were like a time machine back to my father.

I think enka has a very cultural feel to it. There’s something really amazing that comes from the know-how that’s put into the melodies. But getting into it in grade school probably meant that I was harboring a big sense of loss. But that continues on today…so even though my father died, it also established the rules of being a musician for me. There are times when I don’t listen to enka at all, but I always want to return to my roots and listen to it whenever I can. I listened to it a lot during “at the BLACK HOLE” (My first solo album). I listened to Cool Five’s greatest hits album in my car a lot, but yeah…I couldn’t really open the window when I did.

I used to go to love hotels in my 20s, and they’d have cable TV there. I loved turning on the enka channel, and not having sex or anything for awhile, but just listening to it! But then the woman that I went there with had usually fallen asleep, and I couldn’t wake her up! That happened to me a lot. The cable there used to have 440 channels, I don’t know if they have that same thing anymore though. But it was so exciting…

All Failing Grades

I really hated my third and fourth grade teacher. She was a very heavyset woman who’d always make sarcastic remarks about my mother’s job, and I felt that she was clearly picking on me. One day we were making Jomon pottery out of clay or something in class, and when I didn’t get it done in class she told me “Finish it at home”. But I didn’t finish it at home. When I went to school the next day she asked me “Why didn’t you finish it?” and pinched my cheek as hard as she could. And it really hurt! Since she was heavy, her belly bumped up against me and I said something like “You’re so fat!”. Then she said “I’m going to call your mother now”. So she did, and then told me “Don’t worry about class today, go outside and do this with your mother”. The thing that surprised me the most was that my mother didn’t want to get her hands dirty, so she wrapped a handkerchief around them. That really annoyed me too! I thought “My own mother won’t even get her hands dirty for me!?”.

Yoshii Child Photo 5

I realize now that I was making Jomon pottery, but at the time I had no idea what it was supposed to be, so we made a very ugly dinosaur. I still remember what it looked like. When I brought it back to my teacher and said “I’m done”, she got mad and asked me “Why did you make a dinosaur!?”. I think that’s when I decided that I wasn’t going to study anymore. So then, as you might imagine, I got all failing grades. And I kept getting them up through ninth grade, though sometimes I would enjoy getting perfect scores on my kanji tests in Japanese class. I managed to pass art class too, but apart from that I failed everything! I’m coming out about this for the first time, but I only know half of the multiplication tables. I don’t know any of them past 6, even to this day. I think of it as having traded the ability to do math for the ability to write songs. I don’t think I’m worse off for it though, since I don’t feel like I’ll probably ever have a use for that kind of math in my life. I never solved equations, or anything like that. When I try to do that much math my mind just blanks, even now. I guess I just don’t have much of that part of the brain.

My teacher in the fifth and six grade was a man, and I really liked him. He still comes to see my concerts, when I have them in Shizuoka. I like him a lot, and he became sort of a father figure for me. I still didn’t study at all though. Eventually my mother got worried and made me go to cram school, though it was one run by my grandmother’s friend. I’d go there at 5 PM, but at 6 PM they’d start doing religious studies in the next room, and the Hayashi would begin. So even though people were studying, I’d go all the way to the back of the room and poke a hole in the paper sliding door so I could watch, and just think “Wow, this is amazing”. So when the teacher would come over and ask if I was done with my work, he’d see that I hadn’t done anything and would get angry. That teacher didn’t have a very great personality either, which made me think “I really do hate studying!”.


People started telling me I was fat around fifth grade. I’d regularly make some Chinese egg noodles around 9 PM, and of course I liked having cold rice with my hot noodles. I was definitely eating my feelings.

Yoshii Child Photo 6
Yoshii in front of a relative’s house during The Seven-Five-Three Festival

Of course I wasn’t any good at sports either. I got first place in a sprint race on Sports Day once, just after we’d moved from Tokyo, and I’d always gotten a decent amount of exercise as a kid. But I wasn’t getting much at all since I’d gotten fatter, so I was always last in marathons. When I got 111th place in one, a very kind teacher told me “Think of that as meaning you were the best!”. I was so hopeless that I got that kind of sympathy. I couldn’t do vaulting or gymnastics, my body was just too heavy. I started Judo, though I wasn’t very good at it. I practiced it up until eighth grade.

There was a point when my mother’s siblings were all gathered in the living room of the second place that we lived in Shizuoka. She told me “It’s late, go to sleep”, so I’d already been sent to bed. But I was listening to their conversation through the sliding screen. They were having serious conversations like “Kazuya’s fat and no good at studying, what about getting him into Sumo wrestling?”. They were having these serious conversations, saying “He’d be able to make a little money, right?”, and I was just thinking “What the hell!?”. When I tried to join a band that some classmates had, they told me “You’re fat, so you play drums”. I think that being fat really changed the course of my life, though it really frustrated me too.

My father was also fat, he had a very stocky build. I guess he had a very handsome face at the time, my mother’s sisters all thought so anyway. He was their younger sister’s husband after all. Naturally they were all very sad when he died too. That’s why they were all so affectionate toward me. I remember in grade school my grandmother gave me some money and told me “Go get your hair cut”, since it was fairly long. I came home with a crew cut, and I guess I looked just like him. So my mother and grandmother just started crying. I stood there with my mouth agape thinking “What?!”. It’s fine since they were crying because they were happy, but that moment comes back to me often when I listen to enka songs.

Fear of Girls

Naturally, I wasn’t very popular with the girls. They often told me “You’d be cool if you were skinnier”. I was like Takahanada (Takanohana Kouji, a former Sumo champion): I had a nice face, but was fat.

It didn’t make me angry, I just figured there was nothing I could do. Shizuoka is a different sort of place, boys and girls don’t whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears. If you said “I love you”, they’d say “What are you talking about!?”. It’s nothing but couples yelling at each other. So when I’d go back to Tokyo and see middle and high schoolers walking around holding hands, I’d think “Huh?!”. Couples will ride on the same bike together, but they don’t walk around like that in Shizuoka. It’s like they act the same way toward each other when having sex too. Seriously, it’s just that weird of an area. I bet there are people in Shizuoka reading this right now saying “Yeah, that’s right!”.

So asking a girl out wasn’t an easy thing for me to do. There was a girl that I really liked in eighth grade, and when I told her she easily rejected me with “I’m too busy studying right now”. I was pretty shocked, but just being able to ask her out felt like an accomplishment. Looking back on it, there were three cases of very cute unrequited love in my childhood: The first was when I asked a girl in my class out in grade school, and she told me “I like someone else”. Then there was the time in middle school that I just mentioned. As for the third time, after I graduated middle school I was still a little chubby. I was working in a cafe, and a female customer told me that I was cool. She asked me to go to the festival with her, since it was summer time. I thought “Man, I’m so lucky! This is awesome!”, because she was really cute. But then she just disappeared. I thought she might have been making fun of me, and I never heard from her again.

I started feeling like it wasn’t possible, and that I just had no luck with girls. That’s where I developed a fear of them. My mother had grown distant from me too, so I started to feel that girls were scary. When I started playing in bands people often told me things like “With your looks, all you’ll have to do is hit on a girl once”, but I couldn’t do it because I was scared. I had an image of girls as being scary, so even talking to them was frightening to me back then.


I first started fishing in fifth grade. My father used to love fishing, and I’m told that he’d always go whenever he had a day off. It was a big industry in Yaizu, the town where the clinic that my parents met at was. You could catch striped beakfish and black porgy. The ocean was a 2 or 3 minute walk from my aunt’s house in Mochimune, so I’d always go fishing there. And by doing that, it was like getting to see my father again: The ocean from the dream that I had when he died, running through the ocean in Mochimune. I really loved just being near the ocean by myself. Lure fishing was popular then, so that’s what I did. I’d go out at around 4 AM on Sunday, not having even slept. I’d set out on my bike when it was still dark, and I really loved that the sun would come up as I was riding. Sometimes I’d go with friends, but I liked going alone better.

The club that my mother was working in at the time was the biggest club in Shizouka, and an American group called The Platters had a tour date there. I don’t remember which iteration of the group it was, but they still had Zola Taylor. Anyway, my mother really…fell for one of the members, so I heard their music playing at home all the time. Since it was the 50s and 60s, they used the same kind of reverb as Saori Yuki! And though I didn’t understand English, I’d hum what I’d heard in songs by The Platters as I rode my bike to go fishing, with the dawn. It was great.

Yoshii Child Photo With Mom 2

My mother even left me behind for two weeks to take a trip to America with that member of The Platters that she liked so much. Wouldn’t you think I’d say “Take me with you!”? At that time things were a little more complicated, I was thinking “I wonder if she’s going to be black now?”. Back then there weren’t many black people in Japan like there are now. Now that I think about it, it would have been nice if they’d gotten married. It would have made for a great profile too: Father in law is a black singer. But my grandmother hated her dating, always pitying my father. So when she sneaked out she’d always say “Don’t tell your grandma!” to me.

Fishing continued to be a hobby of mine until fairly recently. I’d sometimes go from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko to go fishing, and of course I’d set out at around 2 AM. It takes about an hour to get there in the middle of the night, so I’d arrive around 3. I liked leaving in the middle of the night, and I liked heading toward the rising sun. In a way, I didn’t care too much about the actual fishing.

I love that time of night. I’m not really sure why, but I do. And the music that you listen to at that time is very important. Come to think of it, I was going fishing a lot in my mid 30s when The Yellow Monkey had halted activity as a band, and I feel like I was just listening to enka. Or maybe I should say “Utau Headlight” (“Singing Headlights”) and “Hashire Kayoukyoku” (“Go, Hit Songs!”)! I really wanted to hear those in the AM. And I listened to things that an old man would listen to on NHK Radio: “Radio Shinyabin” (“Radio Late Night Trip”)! They’d play things like Akira Kobayashi’s “Dynamite ga gohyakujuu ton” (“510 Tons of Dynamite”). And to think I was only 35 or 36 years old! It’s like I was telling myself to grow up even more.

So I was really into fishing from the time I was in fifth grade until I got turned on to rock music, which was when I was 16 years old, in ninth grade.

Yoshii with Eldest Daughter
Yoshii with his eldest daughter in London, during the recording of the album “SICKS”.