「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら
「ST」は紙名を新たに「Alpha」として2018年6月29日より新創刊しました。 Alpha以降の英文記事はこちら


Scents and sensibility

By Patrick St. Michel


When I moved to Japan five years ago, I knew very little about the country I would soon call home, and the simple act of saying hello in a new language filled me with terror. I settled into my new town in Mie Prefecture, and grew worried that I would never make any friends.

What could I even talk to potential pals about? I could ask for basic information, but not much more. It's tough to build friendships when all you can say is "Where are you from?" over and over again.

One day shortly after moving to Mie, I went to a local electronics store and wandered around aimlessly. A song played over the shop's sound system, and I became hypnotized. This tune was like nothing I had ever heard before — it sounded like an android was singing the words, while the music itself was the happiest pop creation I could possibly imagine. I listened to the whole song, which probably made the employees near me concerned. "Why is that guy just staring off in space in the computer aisle?"

Thanks to the magic of YouTube, I soon figured out the name of the song. It was Love the World by Perfume, a techno-pop trio from Hiroshima. They released a new album the week before my flight touched down in Japan, and I bought it as soon as my first paycheck appeared in my bank account.

I loved it — Perfume's music mixed cutting-edge electronic sounds with human emotion. When I had enough cash in my pockets, I purchased every album the group had released.

Something funny happened in Mie, though, after that fateful trip to the electronics store. Suddenly, I had something to chat about with the people around me. The students I taught at the time enthusiastically asked me who my favorite member was, while drinking parties ending in karaoke with my co-workers suddenly became easier thanks to my badly sung renditions of Perfume's biggest hits.

Even conversing with strangers — once my biggest source of anxiety, whether at a bar on Friday night or at the supermarket picking up bread — became easy. Better yet, I managed to meet interesting people around the same age as me and make friends.

Stumbling across Perfume opened the door into Japanese music for me. I started writing a blog about Japanese music soon after, and I'm still at it today. I even interviewed the group late last year — a dream come true, and a professional highlight. But the best part of hearing Love the World in a big-box electronics store was how it gave me a great way to make connections with the people all around me.



The Japan Times ST: May 1, 2015

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート




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