Now, a caveat: I have had several years of Japanese study (some class training but primarily self-study aided by numerous textbooks, online Japanese forums, any Japanese media I can get my hands on, and Japanese penpal correspondence) but I am not yet fluent. I am pretty good, though, and I have checked these translations over repeatedly. If anybody catches an error, though, please, please let me know.
On to the translations --
・・・the id ： 2007.2.5
30minutes night flight
The mastering has been finished, and "30minutes night flight" has finally been completed.
More than half a year ago I began developing the concept, and what I came up with has taken physical form, and by next month it will be packaged and become someone's possession.
It was already before dawn when I got home the day the mastering was completed.
It happens each time I make something, but this time also I have fought with many sides of myself, and experienced new emotions. Days that I kept my attenae up and kept my ears open so as not to miss the small miracles that occur each moment.
In music, there is something that is required that cannot be compensated for with calculation or trickery, and that is the 'passion' of humans, and I learned that again as I was working on this project. 'To make something' is a difficult task and it requires courage. You only get back how much passion you put into something, and that is why I feel so satisfied right now.
As of now, this album is still mine more than anyone else's. From here on it will be received by various people, and I am quietly praying that they will treasure it for a long time and listen to it over and over again.
I realise now that making this album was a journey. There were people who supported me as I walked, and I've finally made it here. It wasn't me alone; all the people who worked with me also had passion and that is what has made such a wonderful album possible. I think of this an obvious fact, but it's a really marvellous thing.
As I was reminiscing about this short road that felt long, I sensed the quick arrival of a new day -- the story I have written for this album.
・・・the id ： 2007.3.23
To Pass Over Boundaries
For example, the International Date Line.
When you pass over that invisible line, it suddenly becomes tomorrow, or you return to yesterday. But you don't feel any impact as you pass over that line in the plane, and time continues to flow just as it was before.
There are innumerable invisible lines drawn upon this planet.
On the earth, the sky, and the sea there are country borders, and someone is always in possession of these areas.
When you pass over midnight, 'tomorrow' becomes 'today'.
The moment two people realise their feelings, 'friends' become 'lovers'.
With one official document, a 'stranger' becomes 'family'.
With one official document, 'family' becomes a 'stranger'.
Those are rules that someone decided so that things would be easy to understand. Thanks to these rules, our days are kept neat and tidy.
But in reality the world we see is not so simple to understand. There is always some unclear ambiguity between things.
When dawn arrives, morning doesn't come as if someone has flipped a switch and turned the lights on. The pitch-black east begins to grow lighter little by little, and as one gazes at the sky, the blue becomes fainter, and suddenly morning is there.
Humans feel a strange unease when they simply leave the ambiguous ambigous. So we draw lines here and there, we categorise. If we make things clear we won't get lost, and it's easier to talk with strangers. Before you know it, you're bound by those lines you drew to make things right.
Of course, in this society in which things are not acknowledged unless they can be put into words or some shape, it's not a bad thing for everyone to abide by the same rules. On the contrary, it has to be that way.
But the truth is that I want to be aware of the ambiguous things in this world. Between white and black, yes and no, morning and night, there is a gradation that cannot be put into words. And it is that unclear part which is the key that makes this planet shine so beautifully.
For these 30 minutes alone, I become a me that doesn't belong to anywhere, fly through a sky that doesn't exist, and simply take everything in as it is. I want to liberate emotions that have no name. With affection, I want to make contact with my ambigous self and the nature of this world.
And then when I return to the everyday I will again live according to rules and boundary lines. But I know that this body and this heart hold a true freedom that cannot be bound by anyone. And because I know that, I am able to resolutely abide by those rules.
After this 30 minute night flight, I will possess the key that allows me to pass over all boundaries at any time.
・・・the id ： 2007.9.3
The Tokyo performances of "Les Mis" Have Finished
The Tokyo performances of "Les Mis" that opened in June made it safely to the final performance on August 26th. Thank you very much to everyone who came to the theatre during the summer heat.
This year the Japanese performances started in the twentieth year of this production. I again performed onstage and felt the happiness of being a part of this long-running, well-loved work.
Although this was the fifth year I have played Eponine, every performance was a struggle. I imagined that playing this role for a long time would lead to deeper understanding, but in reality the hurdles are neverending, and I never feel that I 'get used' to it at all. There are always growing pains. So I got this strong feeling of 'I'll get through this!" and it became energy and helped me get to this point with unwavering vigilance. And I think that each time I learned something and was able to absorb all of it.
The treasure I found in the Tokyo performances in this fifth year was ...
The truth is, just between you and me, the performances this year were the first time I was able to experience 'fun'. That's the treasure I found.
Writing that, I feel that it may give a negative impression, and make you think 'Huh? It wasn't fun?' But that's not it at all.
When I experienced "Les Mis" from the audience, it was an elegant, cool play; it was a place that gave me power. On the way home I would sing 'Do You Hear the People Sing?', and have this heightened courage and feel that I wanted to live to the fullest, like those students.
When I participated in "Les Mis" as a performer, it became a place where I was tested not only as an actor but as a person. Put simply, although it was very tough, it was a place of training that taught me many things, and it has become a terribly precious thing to me more than ever.
As long as I put myself in that position it will be a series of ordeals; but at the end of this tough road I'll find a refreshing scenery I've never encountered before -- so no matter how many times I run into a wall, I can't give up. I climb the hill, and I achieve something, and then I climb the next hill ... I've got a pretty good masochistic temperament, in my opinion.
It's always a struggle, so for me to say that I go through the performance easily and think "This is fun!" would be a lie. I feel like an athlete who's entered into a sports tournament that will continue for several months, and I have to maintain my physical and mental health, and it's a repition of training, visualisation, and study. I'm also doing other work at this time as well, so I'm on edge from the opening day to the final performance.
Up till now that pressure has been very great, and I haven't been able to feel from the bottom of my heart 'This is fun.' What I do feel is 'I'm happy ...'
'This is fun!' and "I'm happy ...' are different. There is no greater happiness than the warm applause received from the audience, the shining aura of the cast, and the beautiful melody of the music; 'I feel happy ...' is what I think at this time; it's the finest treasure in this line of work.
'This is fun!' is a lighter feeling. It's like a momental 'Ah!' feeling. It's light but it's also a wonderful thing. It glitters brightly, and like an accessory or a dessert, it enriches you. This year, for the first time, I was able to savour that feeling on-stage. I can't express it well, but that's what happened. This is the scenery I arrived at on the other side of that tough road, and I felt glad that I had kept going.
I think I'm like a mountain climber who must climb the mountain; if there's a hill, I want to climb it; if there's a wall, I want to scale it -- in this way I want to play Eponine with all my ability.
Next are the performances at Hakataza Theatre in Fukuoka from September till November. I love Fukuoka, so I'm looking forward to going.
Ah, my training isn't over yet ... But I quite like myself when I'm struggling ...
I really am a masochist.
–The pictures are from the trip I made in February of this year to see "Les Mis" in New York for study purposes.
・・・the id ： 2007.10.2
Letter From Fukuoka.
I hear that it's still raining in Tokyo. It's finally autumn.
I'm at Hakataza Theatre in Fukuoka, performing in "Les Mis".
The scent of summer is still in the air here. The sunlight is strong, and it's warm even when night comes. I brought autumn clothing with me, but they're not really helpful with this weather.
Travelling away for shows always feels like camping so it's fun, and there are so many delicious foods in Fukuoka, so it's like heaven for me ... it should be, anyway, but I'm here for work, so I haven't been able to have fun, and it's tough.
But yesterday, I went out with the cast and staff to this shop in the middle of a field. It was a fateful encounter. I want to express how moved I was, but I think what I felt will exceed what you imagine.
It wasn't just that the food was delicious. How can I express this -- it had this wonderful atmosphere, like people's thoughts, like all of the world's life had been condensed here. Underneath the stars, surrounded by the peaceful mountains .... From the bottom of my heart I thought 'This is what it is to make people happy!'
To have encountered such a wonderful place, and to think of the deep bonds with the people I spent time with there, was a mysterious experience that makes me want to cry.
This encounter is one of the things for which I am grateful to "Les Mis" for.
It was a happening in which I resolved anew to do my best throughout this month and give everything I have to make this show wonderful.
But even a period of time that you consider long will be over before you know it.
There are about 20 performances left of "Les Mis" for me in 2007. In that limited amount of time, I will hungrily press on to attain something precious. And I want to spend my days feeling gratitude toward my precious friends who are always by my side, as well as the people who aren't by my side, but are looking up at the same sky as I am.
What I thought on a long autumn night, the end.
I'll talk to you again.
From under the sky in Fukuoka.
・・・the id ： 2007.12.26
The Day I Can Say Thank You
It's already the end of the year.
And when I look back on this year, I think:
I have never experienced such feelings of 'thank you' from the bottom of my heart as I am now. It was a year so good I could cry.
It's difficult to express this enormous emotion, but if the question is toward what am I feeling grateful, I think that I'm feeling grateful toward everything.
I'm grateful to you who is reading this, to my staff, to the cast, to the musicians, to my friends, to my parents, to all of the people who have affected me. And I'm also grateful to myself.
This is not a platitude, I am filled with feelings of gratitude, so much so that I want to scream them from the bottom of my heart. And it makes me terribly happy.
Although I won't reject the existence of God, Buddha, or some greater power, right now I feel love and faith for things closer to me.
Ah, I can't say that all the paths I've chosen up until now have been right, but right now things are so good now that I think even my past missteps are forvigable. I learned many things for the first time from the mistakes I made, the times I was hurt, the times I broke down.
I have been searching for something for a long time. Rather, there is something I have continued to plead for. While running into obstacles here and there, sometimes grieving, sometimes being moved, I have borrowed the strength of other people and made it along this road. Days I felt a loneliness that no one else could understand, but nonethless made an effort to interact with people. Getting lost, and not knowing how far to go, or how to reach my destination.
This year, there were many things that happened that made me feel that my time this year was not wasted. Immersing myself in the fun of wordplay when making music, finding it easier to liberate myself, developing a friendship with someone who's like my other half.
Although I am in the middle of a neverending journey, and there will be many hills ahead, the scenery before me right now is wonderful. This year proved to me that every obstacle becomes a provision for the future. So I have resolved to overcome whatever hills and storms await me, so I can see the beautiful scenery on the other side of them.
In the coming year, I have to return the favour for all these things that made me so happy.
There are still many things I can do. As the professional Sakamoto Maaya; as the person Sakamoto Maaya.
These pure feelings of gratitude give me such strong energy. Amazing power. It's happy, and it's fun.
On that note, thank you, everyone, for this year.
Have a good year.