Ryuichi Sakamoto’s first song: Music of Rabbit

Around age of 5. He took bus and train to kindergarten1. He sometimes plays hooky at Shibuya and go see a movie. He got attached to the label of “bad student” by inviting classmates to see a movie.

In the kindergarten he went, every student plays piano in turns on a weekly basis. He did not feel happy or remember anything he played. He did remember the first time when he breaks a taboo.

The teacher was asking everyone to paint with watercolor on glass windows. He wasn’t sure about it, because he was thinking this is same as breaking the windows. A clean transparent glass window with color is “broken”.

How about students after this class who need this classroom? But the teacher was still asking them to do so. After seeing the sun goes through the color painted on the window, it was gorgeous. This is the first time he feels the anxiety of breaking something, and the happiness after breaking it.

In Japan, students need to take the rabbit from school to home during the summer vacation in turns for a week. Doing something like taking out bunny poops, finding food for the rabbit. This was a big deal for every student at this age, a real life on your hands.

After the summer vacation, the teacher forced everyone to compose a song about their feelings when they were taking care the rabbit. From lyrics to melody, all by themselves. Ryuichi cheated and asked his mother to help with the making of the song, hand over the sheet music to the teacher. He vaguely remembers they made a sonosheet but could not find it anymore. That was Ryuichi’s first song.

This was a big moment for Ryuichi. The caring for rabbit was surely a big deal. But made the entire thing into music was even bigger. He felt something like joy, but also a bit embarrassed of his work. He made something unique, something by himself, into the world.

If there is no rabbit at school, this song will never be born. But The rabbit that bites Ryuichi, and the rabbit Ryuichi cleaned out poops for, is not the same rabbit in Ryuichi’s song, but somehow they’re interconnected. He felt inharmonious and weird.

After years looking back, Ryuichi thinks even when he was a kindergarten student, he could feel the inharmonious and weird feeling as he is now. He thinks it’s because that feeling is close to the essence of music.

Ryuichi Sakamoto is a pianist, composer, musician, producer, actor, and environmental activist. Born in 1952 January 17th in Nakano-ku, Tokyo.