"Beginning of UTATABI 〜Traveling Concert"

This interview appeared in August 2003 issue of a classical music journal "Strings" . Toshi was interviewed by the chief editor.

Toshi was a vocalist in a rock group which dominated Japanese music scene at one time, but then after he left the group, he has been giving concerts called "UTATABI 〜Traveling Concert" all over Japan for these 5 years.

He gives concerts almost every day, and he even sings at some places all day from the morning till night. Singing in voluntary concerts at schools or at welfare facilities and also holding concerts on his own, it seems almost reckless to us, however, he seems to be enjoying to see the people crying and feeling healed by his songs. In fact, he has given more than 3,000 concerts so far, and people seem to be touched and healed at the concerts.
When he left this super famous rock group "X JAPAN", people goshipped a lot about him.
Today we're going to ask him to tell why and how he started this traveling concert, "UTATABI" with his own words.

I felt so empty then…

" It is almost 7 years ago, when I met MASAYA for the first time and I decided I would sing his songs some day.
In those days I was still coming and going between Japan and America, and we were at the summit of so-called "visuals".
I was living in the States and we were moving on to the world music scene, however my heart was growing wild and I felt like killing myself. I was on the verge of a suicide, to tell you the truth. Nothing was going right.

I was posing as a big star, behaving flamboyantly and charismatically, making people believe I am a good person, however, I was feeling so empty and painful inside. I was in despair, I felt like I won't trust anything or anybody.

Although I played rock music and was a visual rock singer, all the music I was listening then was "Iyashi-kei (healing type of music). In those days, there was no word like "Iyashi-kei", it was not that popular. People called it healing music or New Age music then.

I was living in Los Angels then, and I used to go to CD shops to buy a whole shelf of New Age or healing music CDs. I was so fanatic about healing music 'cause I was not healed at heart, I guess. I was behaving O.K., however, I was seeking for every kind of healing music.

One day, I went to a healing music corner at a Japanese CD shop, and found a big display rack with a name of MASAYA. I had no idea who he was. I took a piece of CD out. It said "Itoshiki Inochi no Uta (Song for Precious Life". On the surface of the album, there was a picture of a child jumping off from a playground slide, and its father was waiting and reaching his hands to the child. Just to see the orange toned picture I was touched at heart. ( I came to know later that the late Norie Matsuda, who was a partner of MASAYA, drew the picture.)
It was such a simple and heartful picture. Then I bought the CD and listened to it at home. I didn't know why, but I could not stop crying. I felt so touched…. Just to remember how it was then makes me almost cry. I felt something was wrong with my life, I felt like so without any reasons.

--You said you felt unfulfilled, but about what did you feel so? To your own music, or what else…?

Of course, I felt so about my music. I was wondering whether I'd been singing what I really wanted, however,
I was more doubtful about my own life. I became a rock star. I got everything I wanted. All my dreams since childhood came true. I got a big house with a swimming pool. I got a fancy car. Yes, I got everything I wanted.
However, I was still unfulfilled, empty. Even worse, I was still obsessed with these ideas; to get even better than now, to be more famous and bigger. I was beating me up , telling myself "I haven't got enough. Not enough…."

Then I had a chance to listen to MASAYA, that made me cry without any reason.
Every night I listened to a lot of CDs, however, in the end, I listened to MASAYA. I took his CDs wherever I went and listented to them.

At that time, I visited Yakushima Island for shooting pictures for my coming solo album. I had a very good image of its deep green trees of Yakushima. I stayed there for 2 days, came back to Tokyo with a hope to come back to the island someday. Then I happened to read an article about a small resort hotel on Yakushima Island when browsing for some magazines at a Tokyo bookshop. I was impressed by the article as it said the small hotel was produced by MASAYA, a healing music pioneer. I instantly thought I would love to visit the hotel. Then after 2 months, I arranged my schedule and flied to Yakushima again.

I didn't know what to do with my life then, and I was traveling all over the world, to see many artists and visit many places. I saw various kinds of art works. And my last destination was Yakushima. I was touched just to go into that small hotel. I didn't know why, but tears welled up. There was a small museum of Norie Matsuda at the hotel ground. I thought immediately the picture were what I'd been longing to see. I felt a difference in the air.
It was a special space reserved for MASAYA music and Norie Art. I read a message on one of the doors.

It said, " I am happy to have met MASAYA 'cause he stripped me off all my ideals. Ideals are the causes of desires, and they themselves hold back our beautiful and immeasurable creativities, I thought. " "I was accepted for the first time in my life not to become somebody. We are Children of Miracle, Children of the universe from the beginning. We don't have to be good, neither great, nor righteous. As we don't seek for anything, everything will come to us quite naturally. " etc. etc.

I was amazed. I had no idea what she was saying because I was always trying hard to be better, to be greater.
Although I lived my life trying so hard to become somebody since childhood, she says, "I was permitted not to become somebody, and I became happy in whatever circumstance I am." What does she mean? I had no idea at all. What does she mean by not becoming somebody, but we have to become somebody. I was totally confused in my mind.
However, to see her simple and beautiful pictures and accompanied messages, something was totally falling apart in myself.

Norie wrote quite a number of stories for children when she was a nursery teacher. There is a story of the rabbit and the turtle. To see the turtle trying hard to run, the rabbit feels ashamed of himself and apologize to the turtle. The rabbit knew that he would win the game from the beginning, however, he still wanted to beat the turtle and to feel superior. The rabbit felt so ashamed with himself. In the end, both of them took hands and hit the goal together. This is a story of "The Rabbit and The Turtle who won together", and I found myself crying my heart out lying down on the floor. I really wanted to go and see MASAYA who produces such a beautiful artist like Norie Matsuda.

Several months later, I went to MASAYA's concert. I never cried so much in a concert as in MASAYA's. After the concert, he kindly took some time to talk with me. He said something as "It's not a problem of becoming someone but of going back. Not going over but coming back. We give names to everything, like this is the earth or the universe, however, we are in the midst of something immeasurably mysterious in reality. There is no self from the beginning, we are something tremendous " He said something like that, but I couldn't understand him at all. However, deep inside me, I was touched by his words.

I was pampered by other people everywhere I went. People told me "You are special." , and treated me as a star.
However, I was told by MASAYA, "If you were not famous nor a star, we might make good friends. As long as you remain to be a star, I will not be interested in you. If I were related to you, it would make a trouble. So, I don't want to be friends with you."

I was suprised to hear that. What is he saying?! I was never told something like he said, however, I felt somewhat happy with what he said. It was the first experience in my life to feel really connected with someone. I'd been living in a circumstance for almost 10 years where people come to us because we're famous. I felt somewhat excited to find something quite different.

I visited Yakushima in June 1997 for the first time, and then I met MASAYA in August that year. Actually I had already left X JAPAN in April of the previous year. It was not revealed yet then. However, my staffs were trying to create "TOSHI" project which can match "X JAPAN". A part of me wanted to be involved in the new project, however, some part of me didn't feel like taking that line. I wondered why I left X JAPAN. I myself couldn't figure out why.

MASAYA also told me, "You didn't feel fulfilled even if you reached the top in a rock music scene, but then, trying to be No. 1 in a New Age, healing music scene or something gentle will end in failure, either." His words were so incisive to me! And he was completely right!

To tell the truth, I had a desire to sing MASAYA and to do well with healing music. However, he saw through it, saying "You cannot sing MASAYA with such an evil design! And he was right. I was thinking I would reach the top to sing such great songs.

Among X JAPAN members, I was always third in popularity. After Yoshiki and Hide, I was always third. I am the third son in my family, but I was always so wherever I was. I couldn't beat them. Even though X JAPAN reached the top, I was always losing in the group, and I was so jealous of them in reality. So, I behaved like "a good person". I look quite evil though.

In the group, they behaved quite uniquely, but I was like a good person, or I behaved like so. I was trying to put some kind of atomosphere around me that I am different from others. I am unique because I am more into the heart, or I am singing healing songs, or maybe I'll be able to beat them up…. Such evil intentions were there deep inside.

I myself dared not to be aware of my hidden intentions, however, MASAYA revealed it entirely. It was quite shocking for me. To find myself coming closer to MASAYA to fulfill my desires, I thought I always had this evil intentions with me.

I finally found why I felt so empty….

Then MASAYA told me a story of how he changed his attitude of life when he joined a self-help seminar at the age of 27.He was a young executive of a company highly listed on the stock exchange, and he was sought after in the economic circle. But then at the seminar he realized he had taken a wrong way and he strongly wished to make a living only by doing something pure and essential.
He also said that he became a trainer himself later. I thought I would love to join his training. I was specially accepted to join a self awareness training for the first time in my life, which had been postoned for 2 years because of Norie Matsuda's sickness and death. In the seminar, we were led to see why we were as we were, why we act as such, why we think in a certain way, etc. through various kinds of works.

I realized that I had behaved like "a good boy" all through my life then. I am the third and last child in my family. I was often hit by my brothers, bullied by them, however, I had all my fearful memories removed somehow. Even though I was bullied, I never said No! to them, even laughing foolishly, I still wanted to play with them. However, it was all because I was so scared.

My parents were also on bad terms, and within such a tense atomosphere, I always tried to judge their feelings.
They often told me, "You are as good as a girl!", maybe they wanted a daughter. However, I was born as a son, and I tried hard to be as good as my parents expetations. I seemed dedicated to my parents, however, it was not really so. I tried to please them only because I was scared. I just realized that I had lived my life just trying to judge their (other people's) feelings. I was deeply shocked.

Also, I have rather protruding jaw, and I have a tremendous inferiority feeling to my protruding jaw. A girl friend of mine at elementary school pointed it out, and I remembered I felt so ashamed to hear that. I felt like I did something bad. However, it is of course impossible to hide my protruding jaw, so I tried to hide my inferior feelings toward the jaw, instead. However, I was awfully scared that I might be taken a mean advantage on by other people, or that I might be excluded from them.

So, I tried to do everything neatly, music, physical exercises and school subjects, I did everything quite well. However, whatever I did, I felt empty, I had no sense of fulfillment, no sense of achievement. It is because I was doing something I didn't want to, I was doing it only because I was scared. I thought I could protect myself if I won popularity, if I became superior or if I had a better position to others. Therefore, I realized I was not doing anything because I wanted to do so.

My life was filled with fakes, behaving superficially a very good person, it was full of jealosies and envies. Acting like an honest person, in fact, I was a liar, a hypocrite and arrogant. I was always watching outside, because I was scared my reality would be disclosed. I was distressed to keep up my appearances. However, when I was aware of all these things myself and cried my heart out, I felt truly relieved.

It was my very first time to make my pains, heartaches, clear and face them. It was a terrific experience.And in the end, I asked myself what I really want to do after all. It may be too late, however, I want to live purely, I thought. Maybe I will not get it back, but I want to try to live as such, and if I ever sing, I want to sing these songs, the songs which saved my life, and I want to send them to the people.

Starting "UTATABI Traveling Concert"

In this way, I started this simple and hotest "UTATABI Traveling Concert" tour in Spring, 1999 according to MASAYA's advice. So far, I have visited about 3,000 places all over Japan.Also, since the beginning of 2001, I visit welfare facilities to give voluntary mini concerts in between regular ones.

…What kind of reaction do you get when you visit welfare facisilities?

"Toshi from X JAPAN", that doesn't attract those oji-chans, oba-chans (the elderly people) at all.
When you expose your true self, sing and talk with your soul, the elderly people will open up their hearts, hug you, and love you for sure. Why don't you visit and please them in a true sense?
I started UTATABI after I received such advice from him. I 'm sorry to say, however, I'm still worried about other people's reactions and judgements when I cannot count on any attractions.

The other day, I went to a place in Aichi Prefecture. I gave a concert in a home for the aged. An old man came to me to buy one of my CDs. He sat next to me, and started talking, "I'll be 89 years old soon. I'll be dying soon." Everybody around him called him "SENSEI (Doctor)", so I asked him if he ever had run a hospital. Then he said, "I used to be a director of a big hospital in this neighborhood, everybody called me "Sensei! Sensei!", but I was always feeling inferior in reality. " and he started crying. I was moved to hear him say with tears, "I am very happy to hear your song before I die. "
When people disclose their heartaches or honest feelings, they are beautiful. Such touching feelings come from the deep in their hearts. I am glad I have given concerts.

I often give concerts at school. After a concert at a Mie school, a juvenile delinquent with brown-dyed Regent hair came to me and said, ( He had almost no eyebrows!) "Toshi-san, I wanted to be healed myself!" to me.
Then soon after that, there was a graduation ceremony at the school. One of the teachers called me and said, "He came to school with ordinary hair and clothes, and he was crying all through the graduation ceremony!!" The boy also wrote me to tell me, "I thought, being a bad boy, and making others watch me were good things to do, but I realize now I had been very lonely at heart. " Sometimes, I get reactions from the depth of their hearts, and I feel so touched by them. "

…You have such a beatufiul high-tone voice, and your voice….

"I have this voice by nature, and I was also feeling inferior to my high, metallic voice."

…Is that so? It's such a nice voice….

I have this high-tone voice by nature, and I also have received the best voice training of the world, however, I think I was making wrong use of my voice. I used my voice to show it off and to feel superior to others. Maybe I was given this voice of mine to express something extensively, however, I chose to use it as a kind of arms , to be superior, to be famous, to win over others"
. Therefore, I came to realize even a nice voice would be harmful if my aim is to win over others."

So, you mean, it was a double-edged sword for you?

"That's right. So, if I make use of my voice to sing songs to admire the whole beings, the natural world, it may be very beautiful. However, if I sing to be superior, it will harm everything, I came to realize that. And it is true I have used my voice to be superior. But I want to throw my arms down little by little. There's a song called "Travelers of the woods and the wind" . It says, "I want to change my way of life, I want to throw my arms down.…" I'm such a fearful person, and it's still difficult to do so."

…What is your plan for the future activities?

I think MASAYA has created a trend of healing for these 10 years.He often says we are lack of a sense of the wholeness, and of Ku (nothingness). I myself have done what little I could to carry out the essential works, to contribute to the people, to Nature, to the whole beings with MASAYA as a producer for these 4 years. And I think I have become tremendously richer both mentally and physically than the time when I was a showy star.

People suffer a lot here in Japan, and many people commit a suicide, and there're a lot of crimes. In such a barbarous age of today, I want to sing and send these songs, songs which saved my life, to a bit more people. I 'm helpless, and lost a sense of the wholeness and Ku, either, but I want to send the true essence of each song, although I cannot sing purely enough. " THE END OF INTERVIEW