Yuzuru Hanyu: Bringing the World Together
Yuzu has always expressed his wish to convey his feelings to the world through his skating. As fans, we see Yuzu during competitions and ice shows, and now off the ice, Yuzu is showing us a side of him that cares deeply about his hometown, and his roots in Japan. He has experienced more in his 20 years of life than most of us will in a lifetime, but after everything he has gone through, both the ups and downs, he remains humble and grateful for all the things he has in his life.
When I watched the 24 hour tv special video, I saw it through the eyes of a person who didn’t understand a word that was being said, yet, when I saw the ladies in the sewing centre brushing away their tears, I simply couldn’t stop from tearing up myself.
Fortunately for me, a new friend of mine whom I met through a mutual love of all things Yuzu, provided me with a translation of the video, which she is allowing me to share with all of you. A very special thanks to poissonbleu who make this blog entry possible. Please visit her blog as well if you can, you will find blog entries in Japanese, English and French!!
Below is the link to the recent 24 hour tv special. A special “Thanks” to yuzupinoko who uploaded this precious video!!
Here is the english translation to accompany the video.
Yuzu said “I went to the affected area, Fukushima to listen to the people’s feelings. I skated wishing to express their feelings to others.”
They show the footage of Yuzu’s visit to Fukushima where he visited the temporary housing in Fukushima. 100 families still living there. Yuzu visited Mr. and Mrs. Ishizawa (75 and 71 years old respectively). They left their hometown, Naraha, which was very close to the nuclear power station.
Yuzu said “Hello!”
Mrs. Ishizawa said “Hello ! Oh, World Champion has come here!!!”
Mr. and Mrs. Ishizawa evacuated from the town of Naraha to the temporary housing with their cat. Mrs. Ishizawa called to her cat, “Fuko! Hanyu-san has come here!”
Yuzu pet their cat. Inside the temporary housing, it is too hot in summer and too cold in winter. It was very difficult when they started living there but now they have gotten used to it. Mr. and Mrs. Ishizawa showed Yuzu the photos taken at during their temporary return to their hometown, Naraha, after the nuclear accident. The inside of their house was terrible. Their house had fallen into ruin. The roof had leaked badly.
Mr. Ishizawa said, “The flooring has decayed because no one could enter the house for 3 or 4 years, and we were surprised to find mice at that time !”
Yuzu said, “Mice?”
Mr. Ishizawa said, “Yes! We found 39 mice in our house.” They are in the seventies. They have difficulty in cleaning up their house.
Then Yuzu visited another place, a sewing school for the affected people.
Yuzu said, “May I come in? Hello!”
There was a burst of applause. All of the people were really happy to see him. One of the ladies was moved to tears and said “I didn’t imagine I could really see you here!”
Yuzu started to tell them how he suffered after the earthquake.
Yuzu said, “During the year the earthquake occurred, I asked myself “Why”? Why has this occurred. I continued skating but I was feeling I should not skate any more.” On that day 4 years ago, Yuzu experienced the earthquake while he was on the ice rink. The footage of the elementary school where Yuzu evacuated was shown.
Yuzu said “I remember the temporary washrooms were over there, and the Self-Defense Forces personnel came here.”
Yuzu was evacuated to that elementary school with his family. He was 16 years old at that time. His home rink was damaged and he lost the arena where he could practice. At that time, Yuzu, at the age of 16 said “I felt I might quit skating.“
Yuzu was a promising skater, and he was able to resume training 2 weeks after the earthquake. But this happiness tormented him a lot. At that time, Yuzu said in the gym of the elementary school where he evacuated, “To the people in the affected area, I felt really sorry, because only I could escape just for my skating. I asked myself if it’s allowed or not.”
Yuzu won a gold medal at Sochi Olympics in February in 2014. However, the suffering he felt was hidden behind his smiles and glory. Yuzu recounted his feelings at that time to the people in the temporary housing. “After I won a gold medal at the Olympics, I felt guilty because I couldn’t do anything for that. But I noticed I myself am saved by visiting here.”
The people told Yuzu, “ Your appearance on TV encouraged us a lot. No one can do it easily.” Yuzu’s performance raised their spirits.
Their hometown is Naraha, where you find a lot of black bags with radioactive waste after the decontamination clean up piled up next to the people’s houses. The people told Yuzu, “We are away from our hometown for 4 years. We asked ourselves what the hometown was for us. The home is the place where you feel at rest as if you were in your mothers womb.”
In the town of Naraha, the evacuation order will be lifted next month. But one lady said, “I think only a few people can return. I wonder if I could live in confort. I’m worried. I’m very uneasy.”
This sewing school link their feelings. A lady said, “When I come here to listen to our teacher’s story and see my friends’ faces, I was encouraged and feel like I should keep going. ”
The sewing school linked the people’s hearts. They hold their exhibition throughout Japan. They sell their hand-made crafts. A lady said “ We would like to remind people of the name of our town, Naraha. We would like to ask them to remember those who still live away from home because of the nuclear accident, by our crafts. We are sewing something while we think like that.”
Yuzu said to them, “I think sewing must be something to keep you going. Something like the proof of your life.”
They said, “As Hanyu-san came here to see us today, when this kind of happiness occurred to us, we are really happy.”
Yuzu had something to tell them, “The most important thing for me is to leave good results in my training and competitions. When I can do it, I will be able to make you smile. When I win, people will be happy. I’ll do my best to show you a good performance.”
People gave him some of their hand-made works saying “Wishing you the best! I will do my best, too!”
Yuzu answered. “Me, too! I’ll do my best!”
Yuzu would like to bring awareness of the situation in the affected area. Today Yuzu himself chose two programs; “Requiem of Heaven and Earth” and “Hana ni Nare”.
We have about 100 spectators today, those who Yuzu met in Fukushima. Mr. and Mrs. Ishizawa came here with their friends in the temporary housing. They said they were really excited to see Yuzu’s performance which looks like a flower is blooming.
The first program is Requiem of Earth and Heaven, which is composed by Yasunobu Matsuo. He composed it seeing the horrible footage of devastation on TV. This music is for the victims. Yuzu himself wanted to skate it.
15,892 lives were lost. 2,573 people are still missing. This program expresses the hopelessness of the people and the state of confusion, which has completely changed the town, the reality which you’d like to take your eyes off. The place where you will find nothing, yet you can find spangles of stars and moonlight. You will find your hope one by one, you pray toward the heaven. Four years and five months have passed, he wishes us not to forget that day. Yuzu hopes to hear the people’s voice from the affected area to convey it to the world. We can only move forward with grief. Yuzu put such feeling into this program.
Yuzu said, “This program is very close to my feelings just after the earthquake.”
The second program is “Hana ni Nare”. Yuzu collaborated with the chorus, “MJC ensemble” coming from the Minami-soma city in Fukushima. The girls started singing in 2009, however one of their members passed away because of the tsunami. Most of the members were forced to evacuate from their hometown because of the nuclear accident. So they live separately. Two months after the earthquake, they started singing again in a sake (Japanese rice wine) warehouse in Minami-Soma city. They were looking forward to collaborating with Yuzu and practiced hard during their summer holiday.
Yuzu appeared again with a different costume.
The message in this program is: “If you don’t give up, tomorrow will come with hope.” Yuzu would like to convey the strong message in this program to the people. Fumiya Sashida composed this song. He will play the piano today.
The host said, “How do you feel about this ice show in front of the people invited from Fukushima?”
Yuzu replied, “The people have painful experiences because of the tsunami. Some people cannot return to their home because of the radiation problem. Others cannot return if the evacuation order is lifted. There are also other problems like there are no doctors, no supermarkets. They live in such a hard environment. I hope my skating will be their hope or an opportunity for them to treasure something. I was really happy today.”
The host said, “You yourself experienced such a hardship. How do you convey your feelings to the future?”
Yuzu replied, “I am always thinking about what I can do for that. Visiting the temporary housing may be one of them. However, by skating in front of them, to express my gratitude, I would like to convey my feelings that I myself am always supported by them.”
The host said, “You said you yourself are saved by them. But I think your visit will make them smile. This is wonderful!”
Yuzu said, “Yes, I was really happy there. I went to the shelter and stayed there in a space of around one or two tatami mats. It was a hard experience, but I’m happy now. I think I owe it all to the the people who supported me.”
The host said, “Thank you for your wonderful performance!”
I hope you enjoyed the translation as much as I did. It brings a whole new level of understanding of what these people went through, and continue to experience, as they have not yet been able to return home.
As always, Go Yuzu Go!!