Chapter Ten – Putting Yourself In Tough Locations

It was decided that I would appear in the Hollywood movie Bunraku (2010), and I began the two month shoot in Romania. That shoot was the toughest set in all of the movies and TV series since I began my entertainment career. For two months, from Monday to Saturday, my schedule had me leaving the hotel at 5am and returning at 3am. Sunday was my only day off. And even on that so-called day off, I worked out starting at 9am, and rehearsed action choreography from 12pm to 7pm. Essentially I worked seven days a week. It was the first set that was so harsh I thought I might give up.

It’s because I had that experience that I found the recent filming of the “Fly Me To The Saitama” sequel to be a breeze. But the staff who were accompanying me to a filming location for the first time said it was too tough for them to stand. The schedule certainly was hard, and there were many harsh filming locations.

The staff that arrived before us went home after we did. Their situation of heading to the next location a few hours after the previous one ended continued day after day. Their work was extraordinarily tough. Those production staff were always saying, “If you can get through filming ‘Fly Me To The Saitama’, you won’t find any other shoot tough.” I got through it with ease because I’d gained that experience in Romania. I did think it was tough, but I also had free days during filming. But for the production staff, it must have been quite tough. It continued every day until filming was over. My own staff worked along with me on the same schedule, so they had free days, but even so they were quite exhausted and fatigued.

Meeting Demi Moore

The filming in Romania was summarized by the word ‘harsh’. I was playing a samurai. It was so tough that I wanted to cry and was on the verge of giving up. To the point where the staff I brought with me threw in the towel and went back to Japan. One by one, they came to the set, gave up, and went home. I said, “Hey, you’re just going to leave me here?” There was no deep sense of emotion when it was over, just, “It’s finally over. I survived…”

But what saved me at the time was Demi Moore’s presence. That was a big turning point. It wasn’t just a turning point in the filming of the movie, but a turning point in my life. During that abnormal filming schedule, late at night on Saturday was the only time when I could sleep slightly longer than usual.

Every week, when filming ended at midnight on Saturday, they’d invite me out, saying, “We’re going clubbing, want to come?” And having barely slept all week, I’d refuse, saying, “No way. Not possible. I’m going home to sleep.” Even when I slept, it didn’t get rid of the tiredness at all. I’d work out on Sunday in a state of total exhaustion. Both my mind and body were burned out. After a month had passed, I felt I had reached the limit— “I might not be able to do this anymore…” That was when Demi Moore joined in filming.

Until Your Heart Is Emptied

During filming on the first Saturday after she arrived, she came and asked me, “GACKT, are you going clubbing with us tonight?” I replied, “No, no, definitely not,” and she said, “Why? Come on! Why are you the only one who doesn’t go?” I turned her down over and over, but she kept saying, “No, come with us!” so in the end I was unable to refuse, and for the first time, sacrificed my precious hours of sleep and went to the club after filming ended. I arrived at the club thinking, “I’m sleepy, this is painful, it’s so tough…” When I entered, all the staff and cast were there. They were all surprised that I showed up— “Wow, GACKT’s here!” Demi approached me and took my arm. And I sat with her and started drinking. Then she got excited and took my hand, and we danced on the dance floor with the music pounding until 6am, laughing out loud. I had no awareness or memory of getting back to my hotel room, and apparently I passed out asleep immediately. I was meant to start training at 9 in the morning, but at 8:30am my eyes sprang open and I bounced out of bed. The feeling I had was completely different to what I’d been feeling up until then.

I felt so refreshed that, at first, I wondered if I’d overslept and been out for more than 24 hours. After some time had passed, I realized, “It was my mind that was tired, not my body.” My sleep schedule had been short to begin with, so even during the filming in Romania, I was waking up at the usual time, but I’d constantly had the feeling that sleeping wasn’t getting rid of my tiredness at all.

And yet, the way I woke up on that day was particularly different. The previous night was the only time I’d changed my pattern of behavior since arriving in Romania. The only difference was that we’d all gone out to drink and partied together. And that was despite the fact that my sleeping time had essentially gotten shorter. I directly felt how important it is to laugh out loud until your heart is emptied. After that, I participated every Saturday no matter how tired I was. A week was certainly tough to get through. Then on Saturday night, I’d go out and party even harder, wear myself out, and return to the hotel early in the morning. And after sleeping for two hours, my mind would be refreshed.

Japanese People Don’t Know How To Let Loose

This is something that most Japanese people can’t do. Look across all the countries in the world, and you’ll find that Japanese people are wonderfully earnest and hardworking. This is something that I can say with pride.

But most Japanese people don’t know how to let loose. It’s also the country with one of the highest suicide rates. In other words, it means there’s that many people who are mentally unwell. Many Japanese people are repeating a cycle of diligently returning home after work to rest and recover from tiredness. Every day they get up on schedule, cram themselves into rush hour trains, work, then do overtime, get home exhausted, and prioritize resting for as long as possible. It’s easy for them to fall into a downward spiral because they’re too diligent. Letting loose means releasing the poison gas in your mind. If that gas builds up in your heart, then no matter how much you sleep, your body will become exhausted along with your poisoned heart. You’ll forever be in a sluggish state, unable to recover from tiredness. No matter how much you sleep, it won’t eliminate the tiredness.

When I returned to Japan after filming that movie, the busy days continued. I decided that I would “play seriously anyway.” No matter how tired I am, or rather, the more tired that I am, the more I engage in serious play. I use up precious time on playing a lot. The necessary factors for this kind of mental reset are 1) Yelling, 2) Laughing out loud and 3. Sharing (1) and (2) with someone. If you can do this, you’ll definitely experience a reset. If your heart thinks that it’s fun, then you won’t mind whatever else happens.

I can tell you that it’s the same with live musical performance. No matter how much the world is connected via the Internet, no matter how far the streaming services expand, live shows that you can directly experience will never disappear. Because they’re based on “shouting out loud” and “experiencing things together”. It’s the same with GACKT concerts. No, actually in my shows, it’s not just “shouting”, you can also experience these factors— “laughing,” “feeling emotional pain in your chest,” and “crying” — and share them with the other people in the venue.

Firstly, I shout more than anyone else. And then I make everyone else in the venue shout. I start shouting, but in the end the venue becomes a storm of mutual call and response. It’s just a natural occurrence that at GACKT concerts, people who came for the first time end up shouting at some point even if they had no intention of doing so. I shout, “Men!” to the men who came to watch. It’s to make only the men shout. Even men who were brought to the show by their girlfriend, and who have the attitude, “I’m not going to shout or anything,” can’t resist shouting in the end. The more pride they have as a man, the more true it is. There are less men in the venue than there are women. It’s clear at a glance that it won’t come together unless they join in the shouting. And if they aren’t shouting, then the people around them will notice that they obviously aren’t shouting. In the end, at last, they shout in full seriousness. The women also shout, not wanting to be outdone, and everyone ends up shouting from the bottom of their heart. After we’ve all shouted ourselves hoarse the show finally continues. After one of my shows, I expect everyone is so tired that they can’t make a sound. And I expect that when they go home to rest, when they wake up they notice that their heart is refreshed. GACKT concerts are the ultimate embodiment of a mental reset.

Full-throttle Adrenaline And Dopamine

Speaking of live shows, in 2016 I and all my staff underwent drug tests with no advanced notice. At the time, there were a stupid amount of incidents in which weekly magazines and the like had sneaked photos of me after I lost weight from training, and written, “GACKT’s extreme weight-loss! Drug use suspected”. There’s such a thing as being too speculative. There’s an overabundance of journalists with no pride who think anything they write will sell, and that whoever writes the story wins, as well as third-rate media that give it their stamp of approval. I hate drugs to death. In the past, there were lots of people around me who did drugs, and I saw them act crazy more than enough times. They inflicted chaos on the people around them, and didn’t remember a thing about it themselves. In that year, there had been a series of celebrity arrests over drugs, and the name GACKT was suggested as a celebrity suspected of drug use. “Fuck off, there’s no way I’d do drugs when I do this much muscle training!” I was infuriated, “Do people involved in drugs usually have muscles this ripped?”

It was during a tour, so I gave directions to the event planners that all the dancers, band members and staff including myself would undergo a surprise drug test each tour, and suggested they should make that public. My body is weak to start with. Lowering my immunity with drugs is the last thing I would want. But despite that, there are many ill-behaved journalists who write stupid articles like that. If it happens that someone working with me is using, then anyone who seems to be involved with drugs should be fired. No matter how important their position is.

The tests were suddenly conducted in the middle of a tour— “We’re doing it today.” After that, we made it public, too. I’d never touch drugs in the first place. There was no need at all to test me. It’s not to prove my innocence, but it truly sickens me when people say I’m using even though I’m not.

I can get high naturally. People who can’t feel good without drugs are like that because they don’t produce adrenaline and dopamine. When I stand on the stage, I produce adrenaline and dopamine at full-throttle. To the point where I’m actually doing my best to keep it under control. Guys who can’t produce it give whatever reasons but it’s just that they’re doing drugs. In the first place, they don’t understand things that are simple enough for a child to grasp, “No matter what the reason, don’t do it in a country where it’s illegal to do.” If you really want to, go somewhere where it’s allowed, and then renounce your Japanese citizenship and become a citizen of that country first.

Getting back on topic, it’s important to smile more the tougher things are. Use your voice and laugh out loud. Even if it’s not at a concert, you can go to watch a fight or a baseball or soccer match. And use your voice. People who, through sensation, have some understanding of the ability to reset their mind go to watch sporting events over and over. It’s because there are many people who understand that they feel refreshed when they go.

No matter how tough the set is, I always have silly conversations with the staff, and laugh out loud. There’s no point in working with your brow furrowed. Certainly, you should do your job seriously, but if you don’t make time to laugh your heart will decay. There’s a lot of people who aren’t able to mentally reset themselves.

When you climb to the top of a mountain, no matter how tired you are, shout, “Yippee!” People in the olden days knew that raising your voice resets you, because those customs still remain. In any case, raise your voice. You can’t do it online so do it in real life. It’s a case of needing something real in order to reset your mind.