Countdowns and events often have a designated day to celebrate. "X Day" for X occasion. The most important "X Day" for X JAPAN fans was in Odaiba last month on October 22nd: X JAPAN‘s first public appearance in ten years.
Today, almost but not quite a month later, is the day that could be called "Y Day."
November 20th: YOSHIKI‘s birthday. Another special day for X JAPAN fans.
Though way back when, there were no official celebrations, since everything on YOSHIKI‘s profile aside from his name was X.
Place of Birth: X
Date of Birth: X
Blood type: X
Star sign: X
The one thing that wasn’t secret, even if not officially listed, was the color of his blood. According to himself, that was Amethyst. Everything else, though, he never revealed during the X and X JAPAN years. On the contrary, in the early years he publicly argued at times that having been always in the same class during his school years with TOSHI, whose age was known at that time, didn’t necessarily mean they had to be the same age.
What might have been a spot of vanity or some public affectation for the amusement of ecstatic fans he did for an entirely different reason. It was more about Uranai, the popular Japanese fortune telling and character reading in which many people believe here, than age that lead him to keep those things secret then.
"I want to be judged for my work, for who I am, and not have people say ‘YOSHIKI does things this or that way, because he’s this or that type,’" is how he has later commented on his preferences back then. Something I find to be a completely understandable desire, especially from someone who was in those days in the public eye constantly, subjected to all the gossip and speculation that usually comes with that.
More so even than other celebrities were, because of who he was, because in the beginning, X shocked the establishment as much as they delighted their fans. Of which I guess I could be called one, even though I dislike the term itself, for all my nineteen years here in Japan. In the beginning because of my friend obsessed with X since their indies, and later by my own choice, YOSHIKI, X and X JAPAN, all of his work, have been part of my life like… well, really like air or water or the ground I walk on: natural, essential, THERE.
Part of my daily life, of my whole existence. To write a piece for his birthday, I thought would be easy.
It wasn’t, though.
Because, if you really start to think about it, how do you describe the air or water or the ground and capture all of it?
How do you paint a portrait of someone like YOSHIKI and do him justice?
In terms of achievement, I suppose that could be easily done: make a list of records, describe – again, if it were necessary – X JAPAN‘s history, list all the artists and groups he’s produced and/or launched into major careers (Dir En Grey and LUNA SEA aren’t the only ones), mention "I’ll be your love" and "Anniversary," which he was commissioned to create by the World Expo organizers and the Imperial Household Agency respectively, both high honors. Add that he is one of only very few rock musicians ever who wrote a work of classical proportions, a nearly thirty minute "rock" song, "Art of Life," that really defies classification. And so on…
"Art of Life," by the way, wasn’t on time. It was several years late. YOSHIKI can keep deadlines if he absolutely has to. When he doesn’t have to, he operates on what I call "YOSHIKI time," which is a phenomenon impossible to predict. I’m sure even Stephen Hawking will have to make an exception for that if he ever formulates his great unifying theory of all things.
"Exception" is actually a word that I think fits YOSHIKI. Both in the sense of being exceptional and excepted from the usual rules. Aside from operating on "YOSHIKI time" (which it seems includes working for thirty hours straight at times, according to YOSHIKI himself) he also does things the "YOSHIKI way" and, as Gackt very accurately explains, "gets away with it because he’s YOSHIKI."
A rock star with a classical musical education who is famous for creating both wild head-banging-inducing heavy metal rock and the most beautiful heart-tearing ballads.
A rocker who during his wildest visual kei years as a soloist wrote an utterly amazing classical piece, "Amethyst," and threw that at fans used only to rock. (They loved it.)
Noticed as "one of the two weirdest men of Jrock" long ago – his answer to being asked how he felt about being called that was a laughing "Shitsurei da yo!" ("That’s rude!") – being different has been his trademark since his earliest days, way back when to those days when his most unusual physical feature was that "giant hedgehog" spiked hairdo that he said then was inspired by elephants. (Elephants? I’d really like to know how…)
Doing things against the odds. Creating music that no production company would touch, then producing it himself when no one else would. Creating a look that first drew derision from the establishment, yet in the end changed Japanese culture. Launching others into the same fame he had achieved for himself and X JAPAN. These days, being the driving force behind the official project to bring Jrock into the public consciousness in the West, as he brought Rock into the Japanese public consciousness in the 1980s and 90s in Japan.
All that is just a few highlights on the long list of his accomplishments, barely a dent in it. A list that I could but won’t write out fully – at least not now, though it might come later, in form of a fact file for JRR’s future database – because how could even the most complete list of everything he’s done capture all that is YOSHIKI?
The complexity and contradictions he himself has acknowledged, often. "Keikakuteki na YOSHIKI" and "konran shite iru YOSHIKI" – the strategic planner and the lost, confused individual – mostly, but also "creative YOSHIKI, "tactical YOSHIKI" and "poetic YOSHIKI" as he is depicted in three of the five extremely in-depth interviews by Ishikawa Tetsushi for "Rockin on Japan," later published in the "Rockin on" "Art of Life" book (one of two books of that title; the other, featuring the famous half skull photo montage, was from SHOXX).
All the things that make him on one hand the producer, lyricist, composer that is a living legend already. Someone I firmly believe will become "Ningenkokuho" – a Living Treasure of the (Japanese) Nation, a unique Japanese award given to artists of outstanding merit – as soon as he has has reached the age at which he can be proposed for that award without everybody involved blushing too badly with embarrassment for suggesting someone rather young for the honor.
Who is, on the other hand, very obviously human and not afraid to show that, doesn’t hide that mixture of unbelievable, indefeatable strength and deeply vulnerable fragility. The pain that he says keeps him going. The joy he so obviously feels when performing, even when he "performs as if courting death," as described by TAIJI, in a 1990 On Stage special feature).
In a way, I could share the sentiments of TOSHI in that same feature: "he’s been the last twenty years of my life; what can I say?" If not as large a part of my life as of those of the X members as a whole, as all the members have been a part of my life, especially TOSHI…. still an essential one. They are better years for that than they would have otherwise been. It was YOSHIKI‘s work, TOSHI‘s voice, X‘s music, that was, at times, when times seemed unbearable, what kept me alive.
What can I say, really?
That this is not at all the birthday piece I had meant to write, maybe.
That I had meant to be more factual, more educational, more informative about the public YOSHIKI.
It’s probably also not the kind of writing anyone expected, as it is far more personal than articles like this usually are.
I hadn’t planned to write it like this; it somehow wrote itself.
Maybe that is, in a different way, another tribute to "X JAPAN no YOSHIKI," as it is one of those things that didn’t work out as planned in advance.
It’s the best I can do, a maybe somewhat confused tribute to him from just one person, me, whose life he has, without meaning to, in fact without knowing about it, touched and deeply influenced, as he has many others.
For that, actually, I can say one thing, even if words fall far short in expressing how I feel.
Thank you, YOSHIKI.
And Happy Birthday. I hope your friends will shower you with roses.
I would if I could.
PS: Please don’t throw over any champagne tables…
Edited by Misha