I spent four years in Aomori to attend Aomori Middle School. My relatives, the Toyodas, kindly let me stay at their home the whole time. This Toyoda family ran a dry-goods store in Teramachi. The late Papa Toyoda took great interest in me and encouraged me in everything. And Papa spoiled me too much.
Papa was a good man. I did one stupid thing after another and, sadly, he died before I even had a minor accomplishment. I think I only wanted Papa to be given five, maybe ten, more years, to delight in good work done by me. Thinking about that now, I only feel gratitude to Papa and no regrets. When I had even the littlest success in junior high school, Papa was the happiest person in the world.
Around my second year in middle school, five or six Western paintings decorated a small flower shop in Teramachi. Even with my child's heart, I felt a trace of admiration for those pictures. I bought one for two yen. I boast that this picture is now much more valuable. When I gave it to Papa Toyoda, he smiled. I believe that picture is still in the Toyoda home. Now, a value of one hundred yen is too low. It was an early masterpiece by the artist Munakata Shiko.
Once in a while, I see Munakata Shiko briskly walking around Tokyo. I always act like I don't recognize him. However, I believe a painting by Munakata from that time was excellent. This old story happened close to twenty years ago. I think it's great the picture in the home of Toyoda-sama swiftly increased in value.
My aunt lives in Goshogawara and I've been visiting there since I was little. I went to the opening of the Asahi-za theater. I think I was in third or fourth grade. Sauemon definitely performed. His protrayal of Ume no Yoshibei made me cry. That was the first time I saw a revolving stage and was so surprised I jumped to my feet. Soon after that Asahi-za burned down in a fire. I clearly saw that fire from Kanita. They say the fire broke out in the projection room. Ten grammar school students there to watch a movie were burned to death. The projectionist was charged with the crime of negligent homicide. In my child's heart, I could not forget the charge against the projectionist or his fate. I heard the rumor the theater burned down because the name Asahi-za contained the kanji character for fire in its name. This incident happened twenty years ago.
When I was seven or eight, I was walking through the bustling Goshogawara and fell in a ditch. It was pretty deep and the water reached my neck. It may have been three feet high. It was night. A man above me held out his hand and I grabbed it. I was pulled up and stripped naked in public. That was a problem. We were right in front of a secondhand clothes dealer. I was quickly dressed in old clothes from that store. It was a girl's *yukata* summer kimono. The obi was a *heko obi* sash. I was mortified. My aunt with her face drained of color came running. I grew up being spoiled by this aunt. I've never been good-looking. I was teased and became a little distrustful. This aunt was the only one who said I was a fine boy. When others made fun of my looks, she actually got mad. These are all memories from long ago.