How I Got Into Japanese Music (Part 1)

At the young age of 9 or so, I was first exposed to the world of Japanese music. For a young Canadian kid to hear music in a different language from halfway around the world,  this was actually pretty incredible. This was ages before I really knew what the internet was capable of. For all I knew there wasn't nothing beyond instant messaging and Neopets. We're talking about how Youtube wasn't even a thing yet. 

Back on track, yes, I was in elementary school in Canada. Sure, we had anime streaming on the TV: reruns of Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and Beyblade. However, the majority of those shows featured English songs. My first, true experience with Japanese music was thanks to a certain someone. 

My cousin, from out of town, was visiting. With him, he brought music from Japan. Who would have thought that an English lad like himself, would introduce me to Japanese music? From him, I received two burned CDs: Ayumi Hamasaki's A Best and Do As Infinity's Gates of Heaven. The dates in which I got those CDs are a bit fuzzy but I clearly remember listening to those albums on my newly purchased walkman at night, so my parents wouldn't find out.

I Loved Those Albums. They're all scratched up now and don't play properly. And they were technically not original copies. But the sounds that played from the metal discs, resonated with me on a completely unknown and deep level. The emotions, melodies, and song structures and vocals were amazing, beautiful, and refreshing. Japanese music offered a sound that wasn't present in Western music. They offered catchy melodies, complex riffs, and unique vocals. I thought Ayumi Hamasaki had a very strange and distinctive voice at first, but the more I listened to her, the more her voice was engrained in my head. As for Tomiko Van, I fell in love with her deep, clean vocals at first listen. 

Over and over, I listened to them.  Starstruck and moved, I replayed the tunes in my head and hummed the melodies. Needless to say, those albums weren't enough and the next time around, my cousin brought Do As Infinity's Need Your Love and Ayumi Hamasaki's I Am... When those weren't enough, I began searching for more. Though that will be a story for another time.

When I look back upon it, it's amazing that Japanese music transcends distance, time and age. People will share what they love, no matter who you are, where you're from. People just want to connect and music is an expression that allows for universal conversation. The power of music really has no limits. It's reached my ears and touched my heart. Thanks to Ayumi Hamasaki and Do As Infinity, I would start venturing into the world of Japanese music. The start of a hobby so passionate, I would move to another country years later just to achieve my dream.