Thursday, 26 January 2012

Masahiko Shimura Exhibition, 'Rojiura No Bokutachi' in Fujiyoshida City - Report 1

Happy New Year!
Best wishes for the New Year 2012 to bring you the everlasting glow of happiness, merriment and good fortune.

Sorry to keep you waiting!
Today, I am writing a post on the Masahiko Shimura Exhibition in Fujiyoshida City which was held on 23rd, 24th December 2011. The dates for Exhibition coincided with the day that Shimura kun passed away 2 years ago; all the staff (his classmates) nevertheless did their best to make visitors feel welcome and happy by giving out big smiles. About 2,000 people came from all over Japan, and had to wait on average over 2 hours to enter the exhibition! Despite the long queues, everyone was showed great respectto each other with impeccable manners, courtesy and politeness. I was so proud to be one among Fujifabric fans!

For those fans unable to attend from overseas, don't be disappointed!
Thanks to the executive committee (Shimura kun's friends from Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School), I was invited to write a report on the Masahiko Shimura Exhibition to be illustrated with many photos! It is their and also my pleasure to give those who could not attend Exhibition a notion of the hearty and warm atmosphere that reigned throughout the event.

I will do my best to write a report worthy of a writer. Thank you to my best friend, Celine, who has given me her support over the last 20 years, and corrected my poor English.

On both 23rd, 24th December 2011, blessed with cold but good weather, beautiful Mt. Fuji capped with snow, could be contemplated from the Fujiyoshida Civic Hall. There were many fans saying, "The first impression of Fujiyoshida City is Big Mt. Fuji!". The grey building of Civic Hall looked splendid in contrast with clear blue winter sky.

At the entrance, a standing sign welcomed all (see the picture above).

This Exhibition was originally planned by the Shinmachi neighbourhood council, but later, it was handed over to Shimura kun's friends from Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary School in his hometown. The greeting words from his friends were quietly posted up on the board in the Exhibition : allow me to take this opportunity to introduce those words to you today.

(The picture shows the executive committees for the Masahiko Shimura Exhibition - Rojiura No Bokutachi)

The rock band, Fujifabric, led by Masahiko Shimura from Fujiyoshida City, Yamanashi Prefecture, did not achieve fame through mass media coverage such as TV, but rather though its distinctive music style. It is not a group widely known to the general public, but has grown over time to become a band loved by a greater number of fans than people in Fujiyoshida could even imagine.

Class mates from Shimo Yoshida Daiichi Primary School, Shimo Yoshida Junior High School, and Yoshida High School gathered and formed a rock band, and went to Tokyo with the aim of launching their debut in 2000. After many twists and turns, the 1st indie album was released in 2002, and the band achieved its major debut in 2004. Many fans were mesmerized by the ingenious lyrics and melodies written by Shimura, and also by his vocal talent which clearly showed that he put his whole life into his songs.

In 2005 and 2008, albums were released, and concerts started expanding to bigger halls like Hibiya Yagai Dai Ongakudo (Hibiya Outdoor Concert Hall) and Ryogoku Kokugikan (Hall usually used for Sumo matches, but nowadays occasionally used for other purposes, such as music concerts).
On the 31st May 2008, Shimura's big dream came true - to hold a concert in Fujiyoshida Civic Hall, in his hometown. The hall was filled with many fans including his old classmates, and the concert started with a song, 'Daichi Sansho' (literally meaning 'Praise to Earth') and it became a legend thereafter among Fujifabric fans.

In May 2009, the 4th album was released celebrating a new step in their musical progression. The band was expected to occupy a more active role on the Japanese music scene, but on the 24th December 2009, Masahiko Shimura suddenly left this world.

During his lifetime, Masahiko Shimura loved Fujiyoshida City from his heart, and left his thoughts in his songs. In interviews, he always talked about his hometown, and we believe that Fujiyoshida occupied a great place in his heart.
Many of his fans think of Fujiyoshida City constantly even now, and young folks looking-like Fujifabric fans are often seen taking a walk around Shimo Yoshida area.

We, Masahiko's class mates, planned this Exhibition in order to give a chance not only to fans but also to Fujiyoshida citizens to understand the thoughts of our friend, Masahiko, who kept chasing after the boyhood dream that everyone used to have.

Three kinds of 'Hearts' are displayed here thanks to the kind support from Masahiko's parents - Masahiko's passionate heart for music and the footprints of his own music which he has now left behind, ; our heart to Masahiko, our classmate ; and the heart from Fujifabric fans thinking of Masahiko forever.
By a curious coincidence, the Exhibition was held on the day of the second anniversary of his death, but please do not mourn - rejoice and enjoy the feeling Masahiko is here with us.
Thank you to Masahiko's parents who accepted our tough requests with smiles, officials and staff in the management office that he belonged to. Thank you to you, Fujifabric fans who keep showing your eternal love to Masahiko, people in Fujiyoshida, the place he always loved, and of course the Fujifabric members who decided to continue with the band.
All of you made this Exhibition happen.
Thank you from the depths of our heart to you all.

From Exhibition staff

On that morning just before10 o'clock, before opening the entrance door, I heard staff, Masahiko's classmates, staring to sing the emblematic memorable song, 'Daichi Sansho' (literally meaning, 'Praise to Earth') in chorus to unite their hearts together.
The chorus consists only of adult male bass and tenor voices. Looking at there grown men singing in attractive low-pitched voices while their faces expressed the glow of youth made me feel "Something special and big is about to begin here..." and my heart started pounding fast with excitement.

I will write more in the next post.
A big photo of Masahiko Shimura used in the farewell ceremony in January 2010, letters and drawings from fans, photos take in concerts and in his childhood, guitars, amplifiers, cloths, etc.
There is still a great deal to cover!

Many Fujifabric songs were played in the exhibition hall. Today though, I have chosen the song, 'Kagero' (see English translation in the column on the right). 'Myself in the back of an alley    posing as a hero' is still a hero among all the boys in the town!

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