In 2002, I was invited to perform at the 30th Anniversary Concert for the Normalization of Japan-China Relations in Beijing. This was my first opportunity to perform overseas. China was wild at the time. The regulations were far beyond what I imagined. Firstly, the audience was not allowed to stand. Chinese public safety officers and officials filled the first three rows. There was also a line of police officers with machine guns standing in front of the stage, so it would be a bizarre atmosphere that I was to perform in. In that venue where the general audience was absolutely not allowed to stand up, I suddenly yelled, “Stand up!” in Chinese from upon the stage. The bureaucrats in the front row were cringing. The audience that had come to watch the show stood up with a cheer, and exhibited an extraordinary level of excitement. When the police said, “Sit down!” I once again yelled, “What’s wrong? Stand up!” in Chinese. They probably weren’t expecting that I would rile the fans up in Chinese. Seeing the excitement in the venue turn into a standing ovation, I gained a sense of my own performance style, thinking, “This is how shows should be, no matter what country they’re in.” Running around the stage, riling up the audience, and shouting over and over— this is my style and I’ve decided to maintain it all my life.
Communication is everything
After the end of my performance, I went back to my dressing room and changed, then headed outside to smoke a cigarette. At the time, I still smoked, but I had decided that I would only smoke outdoors. I left my dressing room and searched around for somewhere I could smoke outside. When I followed the rear exit around to the back row of seats, I found a wide-open space with a closed gate. There were a lot of police hanging around. When I went to light up, they said, “This is a restricted area! Get lost!” When I asked, “Didn’t you guys see me singing just now?” they responded with “What?” and “Wow!” The police and I chatted over cigarettes in that place. They were all humans. Things work out if you just communicate.
Learning through seduction
At the time, I had only just reached the level of being able to hold a conversation in Chinese. As far as language learning goes, my study style is to first binge-read books, then memorize by writing and repeat that process. Back then, language textbooks came with CDs attached. I was interested in reading the textbooks while listening to the CD. Even now I read a lot of textbooks. I like to read them while thinking, “I see, so this way of teaching also exists,” “If I were the author, how would I write this?” and “I guess there are people who teach it like that.” When I go to a bookstore, I casually browse French and Chinese courses for beginners and things like the basics for people who have just started learning; it’s really fun to stand there and read them.
Actually writing things and memorizing them is a necessary foundation, but if that’s all you do, you won’t be able to converse. First, if you’re studying within Japan, you need to search for an environment that you can speak in, or make one. These days, there’s the internet at least. If you want to speak using Chinese or English, you can easily find an environment in which to do so in this day and age. In my day, there were no such conveniences. In my case, in order to improve my Chinese skills, I searched for restaurants where there were only Chinese people, and went there over and over so I could befriend the staff. First, I’d ask the pronunciations of everything on the menu and memorize them. Once I’d done that, I’d ask, “What do you call this?” and “How do I say this?” and the staff would teach me in broken Japanese. The main language of the conversation would become Chinese. I’d study while getting an actual feel for “This is how you pronounce it.” Sometimes I’d chat up the girls who worked at the restaurant. You can learn fastest through seduction. I’d listen to the words she spoke and her way of saying things, and come to understand, “Ah, this is how you say it.” My study and learning methods were the same for different languages.
I always have this thought about people who study languages. I often go overseas with my friends. I make them do various things in that location. I’ll suddenly say, on a street in a different country, “Go seduce that girl.” When I say that, they always reply, “No, I can’t seduce her because I can’t speak English.” Then I always ask, “So, you can seduce anyone who’s Japanese then?”
They all go quiet. That’s the essence of it. If you become able to speak a foreign language, will you be able to seduce people in foreign countries? No, that alone isn’t enough to seduce them. People who can seduce others can do it even without words. They work hard to seduce the other person even with broken sentences. It’s because they repeat this that their communication skills improve further. Fundamentally, someone who can’t seduce anyone in Japanese won’t be able to do it in another language either. Because they don’t have seduction skills in the first place. They’re not trying to engage in communication. To break it down further, no matter what the language, they aren’t trying to please the other person or win their heart. That’s not a question of linguistic ability, but fundamentally a different kind of ability. It’s a different thing that they need to put effort into.
The Point-Scoring Method
This happened when I went to Romania to film a movie. Of course, not everyone there spoke English. The upper layer of those producing the movie of course had to be able to communicate in English to do their work. But the reality was that more than half of the assistants who were receiving directions and carrying them out couldn’t speak it. The first month after we began filming was really tough and even I felt like giving up.
First, my manager at the time gave up and returned to Japan, leaving me behind. In his place, one of my dancers came to Romania to look after me. What I found amazing about him is that he tried to make people laugh through dance and atmosphere enough to make up for not speaking English at all. Despite the fact that he couldn’t talk with the local girls in English or Romanian, he seduced them. One month after filming, when I asked him, “Do you want to go drinking?” he replied, “I have a date tonight!” He perfectly embodied the things that I was always teaching. By the way, he doesn’t have a good-looking face. He’s actually infinitely plain.
A lot of people misunderstand this, and think that people who can seduce others can do it because they’re good-looking. Those who are aware that they’re not good-looking and can’t seduce people say, “It’s cause I’m not good-looking,” as the reason. On the other hand, those who can seduce others say, “It’s got nothing to do with your face.” I’m speaking from my own experience and data, but appearances are nothing more than an entry-point. Whether or not a person can stop there for five minutes at least, or ten minutes at most is important. Even if you’re not a good-looking person, people will get used to your face, and if you can touch their heart in that five or ten minutes, through that point-scoring method they’ll see your face as cute instead and think, “This is a good person even though they have a scary face.” If you’re clean-cut, or have a certain air about you, or a pleasant voice, or are funny— if you have one of these things, you can turn as many people as you want on to point-scoring mode. It’s the same with men and women. If you can stop for five minutes and get the other person to smile, you win. That’s all it is.
It’s extremely difficult to talk about romantic feelings. That’s because my definition of romantic feelings is completely different to the people around me. To begin with, my feelings toward sex are entirely different from most people’s. To me, sex is no different to the continuation of a handshake. There’s no difference between sex and a handshake and conversation. We befriend each other and talk, and if I think that girl has a good air about her, and both she and I want it, it’s simply that we naturally have sex.
Conditions for “Close Friendships With the Opposite Gender”
My thoughts are that close friendships between men and women fundamentally are not physical relationships and therefore hard to establish. I have a lot of close friends of the opposite gender, but it’s that I had sex with them and due to some obvious reason such as lack of physical compatibility they aren’t potential sexual partners to me, but we become close friends as a result of being compatible in other ways.
If they aren’t potential sexual partners, but the compatibility in other ways is exceptionally good, it’s possible to form a close friendship with them. However, that usually happens from the woman’s perspective, so even if the woman is thinking that, for young men with strong sex drives, “close friendships with the opposite gender” are difficult to form. If instead the other person is a man with a weak sex drive, then the problem extends to how he is as a man, and as a male.
Currently in Japan, there are a lot of people who can’t shake hands when they first meet someone. There are people who feel resistance even to handshakes. There are also quite a lot of people who can’t look at the other person’s face when shaking hands. But what’s strange is that once you get used to shaking hands, that resistance will disappear to an unbelievable extent. If you went to France before the pandemic, people would kiss each other on the cheek four times, right, left, right, left. It’s something that you would feel quite a bit of resistance to if you hadn’t experienced it before. But when you get used to it, it’s extremely normal. If we suppose that, for many people, sex is something they have to get past a huge wall to do, then for me that wall doesn’t exist at all.
I started shaking people’s hands when I began music at 16. Musicians had a custom of shaking each other’s hands whenever they met. After shaking hands, they’d move on to high-fiving, and then hugging as forms of greeting. When they’re introduced to a girl, too, they shake her hand and say “Hi,” beginning from something that easily transitions into a hug. They’d only shake hands when first meeting, but they’d talk and when they were heading home, it was usual for them to end things with a hug. That was a standard among musicians at the time.
When I was little and living in Okinawa, I was hugged regularly. Having a lot of foreigners around was the biggest factor. When I moved to the mainland, that custom went away, and I felt a sense of unease with it even though I was a child. Everyone would bow deeply when they greeted others. I remember having the feeling, “This is kind of incredible…” when I first saw it. I was about seven or eight at the time. I felt that the movement they made lowering their head over and over was unique. But during the process of growing up, everyone around me did it, and I came to feel it was a perfectly normal thing to do. We didn’t shake hands either. It came to feel like an obvious fact that not hugging was normal.
When I became a musician, I was taught by musicians older than me. When I saw the older musicians shaking hands, I felt it wasn’t very Japanese of them. At the time, musicians had countless types of handshakes, and many of them were complicated arrangements. Sometimes after grasping the other person’s hand, they’d slide into another grip, or they’d bump fists. Sometimes they’d bump elbows, and sometimes they’d carry it forward into a hug. Bands and different communities had set ways of shaking hands and greeting each other. I believe it’s the same as in the world of hip-hop and rappers. I suppose it’s awareness of being on a team, awareness of being in a family, awareness of being in a group. GACKT’s band members, dancers and the community around them also have their own original greetings even now.
Romance and Girlfriends
If I am asked my current romantic circumstances, since long ago, I have always answered, “I’m always in love.” There’s no need for me to get a girlfriend. I don’t feel like I have to get one.
In the world, there are many women who have a big romance, and then immediately marry someone they met soon after breaking up, but the impetus for this behavior is usually a result of burying sadness and loneliness or feeling strong momentum to do that. It’s a fact that there are many people who marry leaving it up to momentum, to bury the feeling that their heart is tired-out and they don’t want to be alone. I won’t say that’s wrong. I hope it goes well for them. The reality is that I don’t see many people around me that it went well for. Of course, the chance is not zero, but it’s probably infinitely close to zero.
I often ask, “Are you currently able to go about your days with a smile?” Every day, I ask myself, “Am I smiling now?” “Am I grateful for this day?” It’s a question of if you can make cool-headed judgments about yourself from day to day. There are many good things and unpleasant things in life. It’s good that there are unpleasant things, if there are good things too. If you’re able to change them into good things. The most important thing is that you can think like that, so even if unpleasant things happen, you can think, “Well, this is a necessary step for growth,” and accept it. Your life will change because of your mindset and way of thinking.
There are many people in the world who complain without working to change. Many people often feel, “I’m not having fun, and I have no purpose in life. Can I go on living a life that makes me wonder why I’m alive?” If you don’t like it, you should change. Because you’re the only one who can change yourself.