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[summary] “Dekiru koto nara, Steed de” – Kato Shigeaki’s 1st essay for TRIPPER 2016.12.16
lost marbles

*Apparently, Steed is a make of motorbikes that Shige is fascinated with since high school, and I think the title can be roughly translated as "If It's Possible, Let's Go by Steed" :)

Sensei’s literary works deserve a skillful translator, but I hope this summary could still be helpful for anyone who’d like to know what kind of things he shares in this new magazine serialization.


Trip 1: Osaka

Just like one takes a refreshing shower after breaking a sweat during sports activities, Shige felt that he needed to recharge after “24hour TV”. Since he’d been entrusted with the main role in “Blind Teacher Yoshinori”, he dedicated all of himself to the filming of this drama special. And as amazing as the experience had been, he craved movies, books, plays and other things he’d temporarily ‘banned’ from his everyday life. After “24hour TV” ended safely, he could finally indulge in watching and reading anything he wanted. However, it was no longer possible to go see the plays of his choice in Tokyo. One of the cast members in one of those plays was a person with whom Shige had co-acted before [unfortunately, I didn’t manage to figure out who it was]; that person said he should come down to Osaka and, by all means, see the performance. Partly because of this, but mostly due to his need for a change of scene and ‘recharging, Kato-san’s plan for a little trip was all set.

The play he attended was “Shounen” (娼年). The familiar kanji for “young man” (as in the title of The Shounen Club, for example) are shou = "little" and nen = "year". In this case though, the first character is replaced with shou as in “prostitute” (shoufu, 娼婦 for women and 娼for men, adding kanji that mean "wife" or "husband", respectively). The script was based on 2 books by Ishida Ira and written by Miura Daisuke; it’s a story about a young man (played by Matsuzaka Toori) who lost interest in romance  (also life in general, it seems) and ended up becoming a prostitute. Shige was very impressed with the cast. The play was quite intense, so they had to bare themselves both figuratively and literally. After the performance was over, he was invited to join everyone for dinner in a horumon-yakiniku restaurant where one of the cast members was a regular. The place had homely atmosphere, and they were welcomed by two ‘archetypal’ Osakan middle-aged women, grumpy and friendly at the same time. The meat they grilled was kalbi, cow tongue, intestines and other innards. Shige was complimenting the performance he’d just seen, but his mind was mostly focused on food. He couldn’t help thinking that the carnal appetite for grilled innards overlapped with the atmosphere of the play; the appearance of intestines, liver and other innards, the smell that makes one moan uncontrollably, the sizzling fat – all of that was almost erotic.

Shige drank pretty much that evening and was in a satisfied albeit slightly odd mood during his shinkansen ride back to Tokyo, when he happened to witness another example of professionalism and a different kind of erotisicm. Diagonally in front of him sat two young geigi/geisha and an older lady whom Shige decided to mentally refer to as their shihan, mentor, which made him wonder if the girls were, in fact, maiko. He was entranced by their profiles, their makeup and elegant black kimono, the way maiko had an air of innocent youthfulness about them but were also captivating. Not even once did the ladies lean against the backrests, their backs remained straight the whole time. Shige got off the train at Shinagawa and figured that the company of three must've been travelling all the way up to Tokyo Station. He felt refreshed and inspired by all the professionals he’d just met, ready to continue doing his best at his own work. He also kept thinking about maiko and their mentor, his curiosity filling his head with questions. Did they have a client in Tokyo? Could it be for the recording of some TV show (both girls were, indeed, very beautiful, and it was easy to imagine them appear on TV)? The theory he felt most satisfied with was that the trip made for their final practice and graduation ceremony; the girls were going to visit their families and demonstrate the fruit of their apprenticeship. Whose house would the mentor head to first though, and wouldn’t one of the girls feel awkward having to visit a home that wasn’t her own? They didn't look too much alike, so they couldn't be sisters...

It happened a couple of days before Koyama and Shige had their location shootings for SCP scheduled – namely, for the cross-dressing project. Now Shige himself got a taste of what it was like to be a geisha. He was instructed by Kabuki actor Ichikawa Shun’en-shi on mannerisms and traditional makeup (e.g. the fact that it's impossible to apply white facial powder directly onto skin, and one has to use pomade first).

Sensei being sensei, he looked up keshou (化粧 - "cosmetics, makeup") in a book by Shirakawa Shizuka called (another rough translation) “Kanji Characters for Commonly Used Words”. Apparently, the parts (radicals) of the first kanji, meaning "change", represent a living person and a deceased person, because change is tightly connected with the cycle of death and rebirth. The second kanji means “to adorn oneself and welcome a new spirit”; its Japanese reading, yosoou, too, has a meaning “to become a different person”. The origin of traditional Japanese makeup, according to archaeological findings, dates back to the 3rd century: some Haniwa, clay figures of Kofun period, have traces of red pigment on their faces. Initially, makeup was used for rituals, so “becoming somebody else” has a strong spiritual connotation.

In Kato-san’s line of work people use makeup regardless of their gender and age, although some can refuse to, especially people who’re still young. As for Shige himself, he started using makeup right away. Firstly, he saw other male artists do it and wanted to be just like the pros. Secondly, he has always been pretty withdrawn, so wearing makeup helps him ‘transform’ into a person who can come up on the stage and entertain people. For him, it is, indeed, a spiritual experience of becoming a different person who at the same time seems to be even more “him”.

When he dressed as geisha and put on traditional makeup, it made acting as a lady much easier. At one point he was almost convinced that he, too, could go all the way from Osaka to Tokyo without leaning against a backrest even once. But then he became aware of the stiffness of his shoulders and thought again that geishas are amazing.

He also felt like a millefeuille cake with all those layers of makeup – and, come to think of it, they continue even further: under the skin there are muscle, fascia, inner organs… Countless number of layers. To work as an idol he needs some additional layers. In contrast to that, to be a writer, he has to strip the layers off and bare his soul down to all the painful and uncomfortable things he would prefer to keep hidden. Cutting a millefeuille cake with a knife all the way down to the last layer is tiresome but it’s worth it, that’s what he believes. He constantly 'puts' layers on himself, then 'peels' them off, and though a cake made this way might look messy, maybe it still can take a defined form in the end.

By the way, Shige is the type of person who, eating an actual millefeuille cake, goes layer by layer instead of cutting through all of them. It ruins all the effort put into making those layers in the first place, but he has no intention of changing this preference.

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Thank you so much for this.
Happy Birthday. More bdays to come, more success, happiness and good health always.

Thank you so much for commenting and for your kind wishes! ♡♡♡

You are welcome, enjoy your special day tomorrow.

Ahh so it's a diary-like essay!?
Somewhere while I'm reading this summary, it feels like reading an extended & more sophisticated  version of Shige's Jweb.

Thank you for giving us a chance to understand what Shige's literature is all about.

Also.. I can't believe he eats the cake layer by layer 😅 I see girls do it but never before, a guy.

Like an extended version of Cloud, you're right (and that compensates for the periods of time he doesn't update the J-web itself :))

Such a cutie, our sensei~

I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this, dear, thank you so much again for sharing the files, I'd never be able to find them on my own!

Oh my, I missed this :(

You're welcome :D It's such a waste for not sharing it with someone who can read japanese.

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