Chapter Four — Thirty-ish

I began my solo career when I was 26. My bodyguards were always by my side. I always had two or three security personnel with me. Guys who were currently soldiers on US military bases would guard me. At the time, I was in a maelstrom of troubles. Lots of people asked me, “Why do you have bodyguards, GACKT?” and I got teased on TV shows about it, but the cause for me having security was that it began when my relationship with a certain company president turned sour.

When I went solo and became independent, that company president, who is commonly known as “President Animal” and I soon parted ways over the company we were to start. I was very short-tempered and would riot as soon as anything happened. It was predictable that I’d immediately clash with him. It took no time at all for our relationship to collapse. At the time, that company president was known as “Animal” and “Zoo”, because he was the type of person that it was completely appropriate to call a living menagerie. The people around him that he was involved with were all shady too. It was an everyday occurrence for them to spirit away or abduct people. I was forced to begin my solo career in a dangerous time when such things were rampantly occurring around me.

It was an everyday occurrence for President Animal to do eccentric things like chase one of my staff around with a kitchen knife before a concert rehearsal or, if someone he took a dislike to was present, to force them into a corner completely. In order to live peacefully in the entertainment industry, most celebrities perform their activities under the protective umbrella of a major agency, but having resumed my career under an independent agency of my own making after parting ways with him, I was living in a unique environment in which I never knew when I might be spirited away or kidnapped. Some of my band members were taken. There were also many incidents where the police were called. It was a time in which just hearing about it was dangerous. It’s true that I had become rather numb to it, and strange myself, but I often felt that things were fun precisely because of that environment, and those days of constant anxiety became gratitude that “I’m alive now,” and a great source of energy to survive.

Visual Kei

I had been active in the world of visual kei in Tokyo since I was 20, but visual kei had a super-militaristic fixed structure. In the past, there was something called the 3 B’s of “cool but you’ll have a hard time dating them” — bartenders, beauticians and band guys. From my point of view the band guys at the time were the 4 K’s— crazy (kurutte iru), scum (kasu), druggies (kusurizuki) and those with delusions of grandeur (kanchigai-yarou1), and band guys who encompassed all four were not rare either. At the time, something called “live crushing” was rampant. It was a time when frequently, people who were senior to you would call you somewhere and then beat you half to death for no reason. Once, one of my friends was hit so much that all his visible teeth were gone. Life in Tokyo was placing myself among such daily occurrences to the point where the word “violence” started to sound cheap. Now we have the word hangure2 for violent gangs, but when I look back on the visual kei world at that time with a cool head, it’s no overstatement to call them super-hangure. Sometimes someone would suddenly smash a beer bottle and stab you. It sounds like a lie, or something from a television drama series or movie. Music had nothing to do with it. But at the time, all of that crazy stuff was included in “visual kei”. They were madder than hooligans. And at the peak stood YOSHIKI alone.

It was a world of incomprehensibly mad relationships with those above and below you. In terms of personality, I’m not the militant type. If I have to choose one or the other, I’m conscious of the fact that I’m the type who will follow a sempai3 I respect if one is present. If there’s a sempai I admire, I’ll do everything I can for them.

A Flying Start

This happened some time after I came to Tokyo. Malice Mizer were going to resume their activities, and all the members’ names were on the poster. It was right before our first show and nobody knew of GACKT. One day, two of the members invited me to our kouhai3 band’s show. “Our sempais are coming to the after-party, we’ll introduce you. Come with us.” When we had finished watching the show, we headed to a bar for the after-party. At the time, it was in fashion to have a joint after-party called a fan-uchi4 in which the fans were allowed into the venue. When I entered, the spacious venue was overflowing with the band’s fans. Their roadie came out to greet us with a “Thanks for coming!” and guided us to a Japanese-style space with a big table, right at the back of the venue and slightly separated from the fans. It was also a position in which all of the fans could see us. The guests of honor still hadn’t arrived because the show had only just ended. I felt uneasy with how the roadies were bowing to us over and over again, saying, “Sorry to keep you waiting! They’ll be here soon!” I thought, “Of course they’re not here, the show’s only just ended. What’s with the fuss?” Shortly afterward, the band rushed in and ran across the store to us. “Excuse us for being late! Sorry to keep you waiting!” They took the alcohol that was on the table and began to pour it for each of the Malice Mizer members. A switch flipped on in my brain. When they tried to pour alcohol into my glass, I covered it with my palm and said in a quiet voice so that the fans wouldn’t hear, “Hey, stop that… Everyone here is your fan, right? Why are the main guests catering to us? Don’t act like that in front of your fans. Don’t crush their dreams.” When my band saw me do that, they joked around, saying, “That’s right,” and grinning. The other band hurriedly said, “Oh, no it’s nothing! You’re our sempais!” They all bowed to us over and over again, and took their glasses in both hands, saying, “Thank you for your efforts,” and only paying attention to the expressions on our faces. Of course, their fans were watching them the whole time. “They don’t give a shit about dreams, with a reality like this. The show has only just ended… What the hell are they doing with their fans watching the whole time?” My unease changed into hatred, and my hatred gradually changed into anger, and I held my irritated feelings back, thinking, “I’ll head home soon…”

Our job is to convey dreams to our fans. Everything, including my music and my existence, is part of this job and I take pride in that. That is a way of thinking that I’ve had since I began music and it hasn’t changed yet. The incident occurred right after I told the other members I was going home.

The other members had been drinking with the band, but their eyes changed. The band all jumped to their feet, and began greeting someone, “Thanks for coming!” in voices that echoed through the whole venue. When I looked toward the entrance, two flashy people were storming in with a bad attitude and heading right for us. Two of the Malice members stood up and greeted them. I remained sitting and observed. “What’s with this performance?” I thought, totally unimpressed. I don’t know if my hatred was showing on my face, if they picked up on my attitude, or did it intentionally, or did it to threaten me, or did it without even noticing at all, but they sat down heavily on either side of the table right in front of me. And before I could say a thing, they started prattling on. They turned to the Malice Mizer members sitting either side of me, and said, “Hey! Didn’t you get a new vocalist, what’s-his-name? Ga-Ga-Ga-something?”

At first, I listened to them, thinking, “What are they on about..?” but they continued, “Why don’t you bring your new vocalist Ga-something along? We’ll kill him~!” I had wondered where they were going with this, but they arrived there shortly and began to rile the band up in loud voices. Right in front of me. The members on either side of me were unable to respond and stood there with strained smiles. I was aware that they were talking about me. Inside my brain, another switch flipped on. 

“Hey, Ga-something is right here in front of you. Didn’t you just say you wanted a fight? I’m right here so go ahead and try. Cause I’d be glad to kill you right now…” 

I switched completely into violence mode. Perhaps they were surprised to hear that I was right there in front of them, or my reply made them hesitate, because they said, “What??? Nah… Well, y’know…” I probably should have stopped there as well, but I couldn’t stop myself. 

“Well what? Where’d all that big talk go? Let’s take it outside. Or would you assholes rather do it right here?” 

In the end, that situation concluded with them apologizing, but I left the venue, saying to the others, “I’m mad and I’m going home. Don’t ever invite me to something like this again!” Apparently after I left, the remaining members got a lecture from those two about “What the hell is up with that attitude of his?” but even when they told me that, I said, “Well then, call them over right now. I’ll fight them,” and they said, “No, no, no, they’re our sempais, so don’t mess with them! Quit it!” completely as if I were in the wrong. In the end, I said, “Fine, I’ll try to avoid messing with these guys you call ‘sempai’,” which wrapped up the conversation that made no sense to me. After that incident, a rumor suddenly spread among those so-called ‘sempai’ about “that crazy vocalist who’s messed up in the head.” In the world of visual kei at the time, with its absolute hierarchy, that incident caused an awareness that I was a no-good, crazy, messed up vocalist who did things that were total violations of the rules.

Should I have smiled and said, “Nice to meet you?” “No use crying over spilled milk. I’ll try not to get involved with people like that in the future,” I decided. In that era, it was absolutely impossible to go against your sempai. It was a world in which, no matter how illogical or unreasonable, you said, “Understood,” to whatever your sempai said. I was off to a perfect flying start in that world, where you couldn’t go against your sempai no matter what. After that, no matter what I did, people found reasons to pick fights with me or target me. I was called out to places and threatened, “We’ll kill you!” And I’d respond, “Go ahead and try!” as a conditioned reflex. When someone picked a fight with me I’d become violent no matter who it was. There was no end to the trouble. I ended up being targeted by some so-called “scary sempai”. This was just after I’d joined Malice Mizer. Compared to my 20 years of age, almost everyone around me was a sempai, and they ranged from 10 to 15 years older than me. In other words, I had mostly sempai, a handful of contemporaries, and some helpless kouhai. And in reality, even most of my contemporaries were older than me.

During our first tour, the members called me out in the morning to scold me. I basically didn’t go to after-parties. Even if I did show my face, I’d go home immediately after. This happened at a regional location in the middle of the tour. They told me, “Today our sempai are coming, so show up to the after-party,” and I replied, “Sure.” They said, “GACKT, you need to show up and greet them too.” Since the band members said that, I showed up to the after-party, but after speaking with the sempai for a little while, I said, “I’m heading back for the night, thank you for coming,” and returned to the hotel.

At 5am I woke up to a phone call from the band members. “We’re all in the lobby now so get down here.” All the members were sitting in the hotel lobby looking displeased. And then one of them spoke. “You know, until just a little while ago our sempai were going off at us, “What’s up with him!? He doesn’t have shit for manners! We’re gonna crush him!” From my point of view, I had greeted them, spoke to them for a bit, and then told them, “I’m heading back for the night, thanks for coming,” as usual to show deference, but apparently they hadn’t liked my attitude. Perhaps because they didn’t like that I hadn’t flattered them, the members had been thoroughly scolded by them. And then the members all pointed their anger toward me.

Gratitude and Manners

The members came to yell at me, “We’re the ones they get mad at. What if someone beats us up!?” I had been under the weather due to the concert, and was rather irritated at being woken up by a call at 5am and yelled at over something that made no sense to me. As soon as they started yelling at me a switch flipped. I asked them, “What are these manners you’re talking about…? Could you tell me? You’re saying I have no manners, so explain them to me.” The members were already heated and began rambling on with a lot of things, but one of them said, “It’s about not being rude to your sempai!” I leaned in close to him and said slowly, “Manners are about responding with respect. It’s polite to respond with respect to those you’re indebted to. Do you guys owe those guys anything? I don’t, at least. If you’re saying that you’re going to side with those guys over defending me as a band member, then I’ll fight you all right here. But if in the future, some assholes who don’t know the meaning of politeness tried to beat you up, I’d defend you with my life. Pick one or the other.”

After some moments of silence, one of the members said, “We’re not tough guys… we can’t fight.” They were all scared of their sempai as well. Just because they were called sempai. “Maybe you are, but I’ll protect you with all my strength. I’ll put myself in the line of fire,” I told them. “If there are any signs of problems from now on, I’ll take them all on, so tell me.” The members all looked at each other and said, “Alright,” “Sorry.” They had finally calmed down, so after a moment I told them my stance. “Unreasonable people have no right to talk about manners. I showed up at the after-party for the sake of your reputation. And I was polite towards people that I owed nothing to. If they’re going to unfairly say that I have no manners, and even that they’re going to crush me, I’ll fight all of them. Bring them to me.”

After that early morning meeting, the band member’s perception of me changed. Perhaps they just thought, “He’s dangerous…” But after that, they never called me to a meeting with their sempai again. Even calling them sempai was merely about their age being older. Whenever a sempai tried to pick a fight with me, I’d always asked, “And what have you done for me that was sempai-like?”

Kinniku Shōjo Tai

As my poor reputation spread, by coincidence I happened to meet Kitsutaka Fumihito, the guitarist of a band called Kinniku Shōjo Tai. He was in a unique position at the time. Kinniku Shōjo Tai weren’t visual kei. I don’t know what genre they started out as, but there was an awareness that he was a sempai in a high place who straddled the fences between many genres, including but not limited to hard rock and visual kei. He was a talented person who debuted at age 16 and had many connections in different industries, and a unique guitarist who had followed the path of aestheticism. In my eyes, he stood out among the members of Kinniku Shōjo Tai.

One day, he suddenly called my cell phone. “You’re interesting. Come hang out, come to my show.” After the show ended, when I went to greet him in his dressing room, he told me, “I’ve got my eyes on you,” with a smile. He was pretty strange. He was a good sempai to a lot of crazy band guys. After that, he started inviting me to drinking parties and dinners that he recommended, but the majority of the people there were the sempai that were messing with me, and the ones who were touched in the head. They’d ask, “What the fuck are you doing here?” and I’d say, “I’m here cause Kitsutaka fuckin’ invited me!”5 When an exchange like that began, he’d notice and step in, “I invited GACKT, so no fighting,” and advise me, “GACKT, don’t respond to everything with those kind of words either. Isn’t that how fights start?” He’d tell me, “Don’t you snap at them either. It will only cause a fight, you know?” When I replied, “But aren’t they the ones coming and saying it to me?” he smiled and shut everyone up by saying, “I invited everyone to this drinking party today, so let’s enjoy it together.”

That said, it wasn’t as though I became friends with those sempai right away. Thanks to Kitsutaka’s presence, it didn’t turn into a fight on the spot, but when I left my seat to go to the toilet, it ended up that someone was always waiting out there to start with a, “Don’t get too fucking comfortable!” For some reason, he took care of me even though I was such a troublemaker.

Saijo Hideki

A while after that, he said to me, “I’m making a Saijo Hideki tribute album, so you should sing on it.” Soon after, he introduced me to Hideki. When I was in my seat at the wrap party for the tribute album, Hideki suddenly came and sat next to me, and said with a laugh, “You’re a really interesting guy. I like you!” I was 23 or 24 at the time and to me Hideki was way too far above me. And yet he liked me. He told me, “You’ve got a good air about you. And your voice is good too.” I was still an unknown, and Hideki was a standout even among influential figures that I couldn’t have hoped to reach. I was surprised when among the many musicians there, he suddenly came and sat next to me and spoke to me. After that, when we met on music TV shows, he always took the time to ask, with a smile, “I haven’t seen you in ages, GACKT! How have you been?” I was able to connect with him thanks to Kitsutaka.

The vocalist of Kinniku Shōjo Tai, Otsuki Kenji, was someone I found particularly difficult to get along with. Every time I met him, I would say, “You’re weird, really weird. A weirdo.” From my perspective, he seemed much weirder than me. I asked Kitsutaka once, “Why did you make Kenji the vocalist?” and he dodged the question by saying, “Ahaha! He’s not a vocalist. He’s a poet, a poet!” Kenji was also a mysterious and incomprehensible person who was difficult to grasp. I was always asking, “But Kitsutaka does take care of him, why is that?” with a confused look on my face. It wasn’t that he had strong singing skills, and he wasn’t an exceptional vocalist either. But he did have a mysterious aura on stage and a unique air about him that drew in the audience. It was at this time that I gained an awareness that singers won’t necessarily sell just by being good at singing, and that you can’t go on as a vocalist unless you have a special something unique that you give off while you’re on stage. I had no sense of enmity toward him, but he was like a cloud that I just couldn’t get a grip on. In the end, I never became friends with him.

Thanks to Kitsutaka, the sempai gradually stopped messing with me. Little by little, I even began to talk with them. I wonder why he took an interest in me and took care of me so much when I was such an unruly little shit back then? When there wasn’t a single sempai who would face me. For me at the time, he was my only sempai, and even now I respect him sincerely as one of my seniors in the music industry. It’s been a long time since we spoke, but my gratitude will never fade.

The Mystery Man

A coincidental encounter with Momose Hiromichi, the creator known as “Ishihara Yuujiro’s bodyguard” and “Antonio Inoki’s former teacher,” was the impetus for me to stop carrying a knife around on a daily basis. He was also famous as the man who came up with the mixed martial arts event PRIDE. This happened when I was 32.

One day, the president of a television production company came to say he wanted to speak with me. At the time, there were a ton of dodgy talent agencies, television production companies, and productions. It was common to visit Tokyo, be scouted, and then find out the agency was scary when you went there in person. It remains a mystery whether or not this company was one of the dodgy ones, but this is what happened when I was invited and went there alone. The president and vice-president were waiting for me. When I went inside, the place had a seedy atmosphere. They led me into the president’s office to speak, but it was very suspicious. Deep inside a spacious room was a luxurious pair of sofas, and on the far sofa, a lone mystery man was sitting with his back to me. He didn’t greet me, or even glance in my direction. I felt quite a sense of unease at that point in time. He was sitting there silently with his hat pulled low, projecting a bizarre atmosphere with his back to me. I wondered, “Is he a bodyguard or something…?” but they urged me to sit on the front sofa as if they didn’t notice the man at all. In that bizarre atmosphere, they started their spiel.

“Sorry to bring you all the way out here. We’re thinking of making a new show and the presenters will be Beat Takeshi and Hamasaki Ayumi. And GACKT to go with them. We’d like the three of you to begin the show together, but…” He abruptly began talking, then continued monologuing at machine-gun pace. I forcefully cut him off in the middle of his prattling.

“Excuse me. I’m sorry to say this when you went to the trouble of setting this up, but I have no interest in television. I hate TV, and I’m not good at it. I’m not suited to it in the first place. This is too much for me. It’s a ‘no’ from me.”

When I told him that, he began to get angry. He shouted a lot of things at me, and when I responded, “Okay, I’ve heard enough to understand how you feel. It’s an opportunity that would be wasted on me, so please give it to someone else who wants to do it,” he snapped, “Fuck you, what’s wrong with it!?” I thought, “Well, that didn’t work. What to do? Guess I’ll get violent and then go home.” When I sized him up and began to move in, the mystery man, with his back still turned to us, yelled, “GACKT says he doesn’t want to, assholes!” That was Momose. I thought it was strange that this mystery man intervened when we hadn’t even been introduced. “Who is this guy? Why did he become my ally?” The president and vice president looked surprised, and cowered, frantically saying, “Oh no, Mr. Momose, wait a moment, please!” Momose continued, “You assholes better consider his feelings! GACKT said he’s on a different level to Takeshi, so he doesn’t want to appear alongside him!” No, no, no, that wasn’t what I said at all. I’d told them that it was too much for me and would be wasted on me. I’d merely said that I couldn’t presume to appear alongside Takeshi.

Next, he glared at me, and said loudly,  “It’s a waste of your time to speak with a bunch of goddamn idiots like this who don’t understand what you’re saying. GACKT, I’m gonna get sushi! Come with me!” He took a step toward me, saying, “I’m going to my old friend’s sushi restaurant.” When I said, “Sorry, I don’t eat rice,” he came even closer, and got mad at me too— “Don’t fuck with me!” He was really mad. I stared in incomprehension, thinking, “What is this turn of events?” Momose kept talking without stopping. “Hey, I’m telling you today you eat rice!”

“No, I decided not to eat it for the rest of my life.”

“There’s not a man alive who doesn’t eat rice!”

“Uh, no. I don’t eat it.”

“Well you’re a stubborn asshole then! You’re gonna eat it today!”

The confusing back-and-forth went on like that.

In the end, he grabbed my arm and forcefully dragged me to the sushi restaurant. When I sat down at the counter, he said, “Hey GACKT, you gotta let me take charge a bit more at times like this!” When I replied, “I’ve just met you, respectfully, why the hell should I? I don’t know who you are?” he began a long lecture with, “In the grown-up world…” In the middle of it, he turned towards the counter and said, “This guy says he doesn’t eat rice! Sorry, General.” The general replied with an easy smile, and silently prepared me some sashimi6.


I would later come to know who he was and what kind of person he was, but then and there he was still a mystery man to me. Of course, he had appeared out of nowhere so I had no way of knowing who he was. While he was talking passionately and one-sidedly, his cell phone rang. He answered the phone with a, “Shut uppp…” Then he began saying happily, “Oh, it’s you, Anton? Long time no see! What’s up?” I watched on with a confused face, thinking, “Who’s Anton…? Is he talking to a foreigner in Japanese? This guy is weird…” and then he said, “Oh that’s right, GACKT is next to me right now. You guys know each other right?” and suddenly handed the phone to me. I thought, “I don’t know anyone named Anton,” but picked up nonetheless. 

“Hello, GACKT here.”

“Hi, it’s been a while since we talked. This is Antonio Inoki7. How are you?”

I hadn’t expected it to be Antonio Inoki, and replied, “Oh, it’s you, Inoki! Long time no see. So you’re ‘Anton’, then?” but after that, I couldn’t understand 95% of what Inoki was rambling on about.

“Uhh… Yeah, yeah. I see… Alright, I’ll put Momose back on…” I said, and handed the phone back. A short time later when Momose hung up, I said, “Sorry, Inoki said a lot of things to me, but… I mostly couldn’t catch what he was saying,” and he replied, “I mostly don’t understand what he’s saying either! Gahahaha!” and began eating his sushi cheerfully. The world is full of strange people.

After we had spent an hour eating, when we left the restaurant, he said to me, “Hey GACKT, you’ve got free time right? Come to my place,” and I declined, saying, “No, it’s late and I’m going home. Thanks for the meal,” but he said, “Fuck that, you’re coming!” and forcibly dragged me to his house. It was absolutely a kidnapping. When we arrived at his apartment complex and opened the door to his home, I was surprised. There were an unbelievable number of books in his house piled high everywhere and covering the floor. It was a mountain of books unlike any I’d seen before. Then I understood for the first time what his line of work was. “Oh, Momose, are you a writer?” I asked, and he gave a non-committal response, “Kinda!” But there were still a lot of points I couldn’t figure out. Between the gates of the apartment complex and the front door of his upstairs apartment, there were a great number of security cameras making it obvious he was not an ordinary author. “Momose, I don’t mean to be rude, but do you really need this many security cameras?” I asked, and he laughed, “Lots of things happen when you’re a man!” and walked into the apartment. 

As he entered the small room, he sat down on the floor with a thud and told me, “Hey, you sit too!” For some reason we ended up facing each other like we were going to play a round of Japanese chess. His wife brought us tea. For a while, the silence continued as we quietly drank the hot tea. Suddenly, he said, “Hey GACKT, hand it over!” and deliberately held his hand out. “Huh? You want money?” I asked, and he replied, “No, idiot! Just hand it over!” I asked, “Sorry, what is it you want?” and he suddenly leaned in close to me with a serious expression, and glared at me. “You’ve got something shiny on you, right? Hand it over!” I said, “No, no, please give it a rest. I’m not carrying anything like that,” and he said, “I told you to hand it over. I can tell right away from people’s faces when they’ve got something dangerous on them!” He gestured with his hand out in front of me. I was silent for a few moments, sizing him up, then resigned myself to taking out the knife that was strapped to my ankle. I was surprised to be told, “It’s written on your face,” suddenly during our first meeting.

Certificate of Graduation

“GACKT, probably lots of things happen to you too. I won’t ask… But I want you to remember this. People who stab others end their lives being stabbed by someone else. You don’t need to walk that road. This here today is your graduation8. I’ll take that one. You promise Momose that you aren’t gonna carry shiny things for the rest of your life.” And then he reached out his hand to me again and said, “Now pay me!” When I took 10,000 yen out of my wallet, he yelled at me, “This isn’t a mugging, dumbass! Just give me 50 yen or something!” I didn’t quite understand this development, and when I replied, “Sorry, I don’t have any change,” he said, “Everything’s a pain in the ass with you! It’s a storage fee!” In the end, I only had a 10,000 yen note so I handed that over. 

“It’s settled. I’ll hold on to this one until you die. And you promise not to carry shiny things ever again? You graduate today!” I ended up participating in a strange graduation ceremony.

Cheerfully, Momose said, “Oh, that’s right. Wait here a moment,” and headed into another room, then brought something back out. “This here is something I accepted from Tenryu9 ages ago. He was a dangerous guy as well! You take this home,” he said, as he handed me a staff about 30 centimeters in length. There was a round button protruding from the center. I pressed it. The next instant, a sharp blade popped out with a cha-ching! I’d never seen a spring-loaded knife that big before. 

“Hell no! I can’t take this home!”

“Just take it!”

“I said I don’t want it!”

“Shut up and take it!”

After this nonsensical back-and-forth, I ended up taking it home instead of a certificate of graduation. It had been a strange conversation that I didn’t understand at all. Momose passed away three years after I first met him. It was only a short time after we had met, but whenever I was invited to PRIDE and went to watch it, he was always there. He was always sitting by the ringside with his hat pulled down low. When I showed my face at the venue, he’d laugh and say, “Ah, GACKT. You look like you’re not carrying anything anymore.” I’ve kept my promise to him and am still keeping it now.

  1. Kanchigai-yarou literally means something like “mistaken bastard” but apparently refers to someone who thinks they’re a lot better than they actually are.[^]
  2. Hangure, or “half gray” refers to gang activity and criminal groups that exist outside the structure of yakuza organizations.[^]
  3. Sempai and kouhai are often translated as “senior” and “junior” but this is a difficult concept to fully convey. Essentially a sempai is someone who joined an industry, workplace, group or scene before you did, and therefore takes on a role of authority/mentorship. Japanese people are frequently consciously aware of and verbally refer to these sempai-kouhai relationships even after the “junior” person has years or even decades of experience themselves.[^]
  4. An uchiage is an afterparty, or wrap party so the word fan-uchi comes from that + “fan”.[^]
  5. In general, what I have translated as cursing is not literal use of those exact curse words, but very aggressive Japanese that is best conveyed in English with cursing. ‘Fighting words’ as you might say.[^]
  6. In case anyone is not familiar with Japanese cuisine, sashimi is sliced raw fish served without rice (as opposed to sushi which is broadly similar but requires rice as a component).[^]
  7. Antonio Inoki was the stage name of Japanese pro-wrestler Inoki Kanji (Inoki is the surname in both cases).[^]
  8. This sounds somewhat odd in English but Japanese people sometimes use the word “graduate” to mean finishing or moving on from something even if it’s not literally a school.[^]
  9. Probably the pro-wrestler Tenryu Gen’ichiro.[^]