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MY DEAR BOMB YOHJI YAMAMOTO
T exT
by

Y ohji YAMAMoTo & A ï MiTSUDA
du japonais par

T raduiT

????

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TabLe of conTenTs
inTroducTion chapTer one: a man A W oMAn , 3 A . M . i. PArenTS D AY AT C AMP ii. T he FACe oF A G obY iii. T he n AkeD h erMiT C rAb iV. D eATh AnD A zAleAS V. n exT To MY h eArT, C loSe To Vi. T he C AFé in The M orninG Vii. 7–9 11–48
15–18 19–21 23–32 33–38 39–41
MY

S ToMACh

43–46 47–48

chapTer Two: an arTisT T he P erSiMMon ’ S F rUiT i. T he T heATer oF l iFe ii. A r AnDoM S TrinG oF b eADS iii. PAriS iV. T he b lACk S TAr V. G olDFiSh S CooPinG AnD Vi. The j oUrneY o ver S AnD D UneS A D iTTY, D eDiCATeD To A ll M en , Vii. A ll W oMen Viii. ix. x. xi. U rbAn n oMAD S eTTlinG The S Core T he C oDe S TAllionS AnD C reATiviTY

51–141
53–58 61–65 66–69 71–81 82–89 91–97

99–109

110–117 118–127 128–133 134–141

biography essay by seigow matsuoka, The Legend of Traces
crediTs & coLophon

142–167 169–189

190–191

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Berlin, 24 May 2010 Dear Yohji. I write you today after having read in the press about the financial troubles your companies have encountered in the global economic crisis. I was very troubled to hear that you lost ownership of your firm, and that you have had to close some of the stores. I sincerely hope that you can overcome these difficulties, that you are in good health, and that you are with your family. I hope, too, that you can continue doing your amazing work! I went through the same thing a while ago myself, losing the rights to all the films I have produced to date, including “Notebook on Cities and Clothes”, that adventure we shared. Anyway, that’s life, I guess. Please let Donata and me know that you are well! We really love you very much and you are always close to our hearts. With all my best! Your friend,

Ton ami, Wim Wenders

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28 May 2010 Dear Wim and Donata. though. Wim ! Let’s make a film together in the near future. we ended up producing a twenty-year business plan and I signed the contract. Yohji note 1 : Loi sur les entreprises en difficulté. Thank you for your wonderful. But. I feel like I’ve been relieved of a heavy burden. 9 . With all my best. as my new partner was not thinking in terms of mergers and acquisitions.K. but on the other hand. which has long been my dream. There won’t be any family battles over money issues involving the inheritance or the stock. Physically.1 Those are the facts. heart-felt letter! As you mentioned. a very high level investor appeared to fully back me and by December we had already created the New Yohji Yamamoto Company. and in October 2009 our company filed in court under the Civil Rehabilitation Law.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 8 Tokyo. I did lose ownership. My one regret is that I’ll not be able to realize the joint venture with Road Movies. Around May to June of last year I was considering retirement. too. we hit financial problems last year. your elder brother. I’m O. I consider this turning point the beginning of my final chapter. At the same time. I feel ten times better than I did last year.

YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 10 chapTer one A MAN 11 .

a man cannot accept anything that surpasses him. in short. a desire to erase the traces of all such women prompts him to turn to women he can manipulate and toy with more easily. he will begin to despise her as much as the woman in whom he detects the kind of excessive femininity that bores him. with an intelligent woman. things designed to appease in some small way the alienation one feels in the crush of the crowd. or. are based on but the barest of social conventions. alternatively. she may lose herself in her desire to nurture and care for him. what a man seeks in the opposite sex is a warm receptacle that will bring forth those things that most make him a man. women will fall head over heels in love with this pitiable vulnerability pulsing through the creature known as man.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 12 essentially. though he might experience the joy of living by exaggerating the instant in which he exchanges a simple greeting with a complete and utter stranger passing by. what follows is the story of a man that i have loved. where she is taken off-guard by a particularly wounded soul. but should he catch even a single glimpse of an inflated ego within her. it might also be the case that such conventions are the most beautiful manifestations of the conditioning that exists in this human world. he may occasionally find some faint indication that they are kindred spirits. she may place him in the palm of her hand and. *** 12 13 . That being said. he loves only himself. she may live out her life in his company. and therefore spend her life in tears. however. such encounters. with “my dog is working like a dog” as her highest words of praise for him.

where it wandered in the artificial darkness of the hotel room. a w oman . from deep within it. and slipped past me into the room.” she took some tomato juice out of the refrigerator. she said. “not lonely. my body. m . i dragged my heavy body out of bed and opened the door.” i countered. “you’re sweet. i first hung up the phone but then thought better of it and looked for her number. was sluggish from the sleeping pills. hi. lying in bed.. “where are you?” i asked. “i just thought you might be lonely.” “never mind that. without a second’s pause she began frantically pa- 15 . get over here.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 14 i. the dead of night. and drained it in one delicious gulp. 3 a . just bored. my consciousness was dragged to the surface.” The doorbell rang. according to the clock it was after 3 a.” she said. “how can you ask me that? you just sent me away a little while ago. like some unfortunate fish snagged suddenly by a hook. eh? i know how you feel. The call was from her.m.” “bored. dumped it into a champagne glass.

on the branch all five petals of the blossoms reached up to the skies. and not a word of complaint from you. you know. The males that lead. you’re so tired. “have you ever loved someone?” she asked. There doesn’t seem to be any possibility of really relaxing. “well. Let me have a glass of water. but at least you should try easing the tension here in your belly. “it’s pretty hot in here.” Then. you can imagine.” “nope. eh? well. “so. before i knew it. there’s just been a lot going on. she’d settled down in the bathtub. haven’t given up on that yet. yohji. “you sounded angry on the phone a little while ago.” outside the window the cherry blossoms. sturdier than one would have thought.” “The windows won’t open.” “and you did say you’ve given up on your dream of running off with a woman. what they want is a person who will say.” i took a puff of my cigarette. “you’re tense. “oh. surely they’ll say something like ‘i’m not your mother. you know. There’s only one man i’ve ever loved. it’s because you think of me as a human being.” she said. “get over here. were holding up well in the rain.” with that. she snuggled meekly into my arms – at least on that day. and i just can’t seem to unwind.’” 16 17 . forming a bowl.” “and now it’s raining. “Love.” The woman’s voice rang out from the bathroom. “i’m not sure. will you keep at your creative work?” i grabbed my cigarettes from next to the bed and lit one. “i’ve loved many. you must be exhausted.” They want somebody soothing like a gentle pool of water. shedding their horns time after time. “fine. i sometimes think that when somebody like that is utterly exhausted and says so.’ or ‘i’ve got my hands full just living my own life.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 16 cing the room. what happens when you think you’ve found somebody like that. i’ve never fallen so madly in love with a woman that i would have sacrificed it all for her sake.” “The kind of thing i do for a living is different from that of painters and novelists. in the animal kingdom it’s kind of like being the alpha male that leads the herd. though.” “real relaxation? That’s just not possible while we’re alive. where she hummed to herself. soaked.” i said. That kind of passion never lasts long anyway.” she rolled the knuckles of her left hand over my stomach and pressed her ear to it as if she were listening to a seashell. i guess in my case there’s only been one.” “hmm. will they?” “i’m so thirsty. consider me a woman and you’ll have no reason to get angry. wound up tighter than a spring.

those principles included the decision to leave the main thoroughfare and tread instead the side roads of life as well as to accept the unspoken agreement to leave others alone in exchange for being granted my own independence. pulled back his pajamas in one deft move. somewhere along the line you’ve lost your faith in women. Life. a woman you loved and who loved you. you’re just faithfully pursuing what you’re meant to. she did call you an insufferable egotist. as life goes on and one grows older. and then plunged into the delicate white sea. There must have been a woman that drew you in. essentially. i continue to believe those things today. not even once.” “That’s another way of saying that i’m greedy. is “why do men do precisely these things?“ it is simply because they have made the simple choice to refrain from disappointing their families. The question. even if it means they must repress their egos and powerful desires. no worthy woman would say anything like that. he will ponder things for a while.” “yes. They dedicate themselves to continual restraint. and that would be it. The simple fact of the matter is. and disappear with her. i’m sure. in my case. you know. i hate women.” The woman looked toward me. Though he may have a woman he loves. without exception they want to break free from the life they are living at the moment. but in the end would not embrace you. and for that reason their simple choice might also be called a foolish one. however. have you?” “you don’t know what you’re talking about. “by the way.” “but that sort of feeling is mutual. i decided to live my life according to those principles.” “i do. that most men do not act on that desire.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 18 The woman suddenly burst out laughing as she lay across my chest. next his thoughts will turn to the violent murder of his parents. somewhere find the right woman.” “but i’ve never thought of you as egotistical.” ii.” The woman softly slid her left hand down past his navel. “she is the last person who should be making that kind of accusation. feel the same way. confronts us with circumstances that we would never have expected. he will reject as absolutely absurd the idea of officially registering a marriage at city hall. and i have always thought that i would do in life what needed to be done. 18 19 . however. a man born into this world will agonize over things for a time. parenTs d ay aT c amp all men. “you’ve never been involved with a good woman. then. repeatedly there arise situations that one cannot handle according to the principles of life that one decided on in one’s youth.

“i am determined to have your child. i want to have your child. once. he was about four years old. it must mean that i had somehow made him very sad. 20 21 . i wondered if he realized that i was his father. so go to the hospital. “i see. there was something of me within him. having finished the morning’s classes. never to look back toward me again. as if some mysterious. about the seventh one out the door was my very own child. it was held deep in the mountains of nagano prefecture at a weathered old hotel that had been rented as a base for a summer camp. if he did. in the dead of summer. but he then ran off with the other children. i assume. There inside him was me as i had been in my childhood. and that’s just fine with me.” i said. i was determined to make my child happy. it would be best if we no longer saw each other. a few months later she conceived a child. and our relationships were ended. i next went to the hospital she had designated.” with this course of action. They all readily agreed. Though the child had been conceived under duress. underwent the appropriate tests. at that instant i felt paralyzed. and have yourself checked. powerful drug had been injected into my system. i thought he glanced at me out of the corner of his eye. i felt my face brighten for i was seeing him for the first time in a while. he seemed to notice me. and i watched from a distance of seventy or eighty meters as he struggled not to reveal his emotions in his face. the raucous children came pouring out over the schoolyard lawn. uncontrollable and rooted in the most primal depths of the human condition. and received official clearance.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 20 when i had passed the age of fifty the woman who had dedicated long years of her life to me suddenly called me to her and told me she was determined to have a child. i wanted nothing more than to be sure my child never had to say “where has daddy gone?” i was overwhelmed by the power of this type of affection. she meant to put the final touches on her life as a woman. i’m sure you’ll be indecisive all your life. first of all. i said. she went on. i was invited to an event as the parent of that child. i don’t know whether he ignored me out of embarrassment or anger. i had no grounds for objection. but. The circumstances being what they were. so i met individually with each and every other woman i had been seeing and carefully explained the situation. and still feigned ignorance. There is a time when a child is so adorable that they compensate entirely for the worries and troubles that they will cause their parents throughout their lives.

“don’t go so close. we had a photograph of my father. with the doting affections of my grandmother and great-grandmother. and i would often go to play by the sea. but when she returned from Tokyo to see how i was getting along. it was late on a cold november night that we saw him off at mizonokuchi station. burning curative herbs on my skin. i was about three or four years old. big granny would be sitting on one of the small stools we used in the bath. There were still wide-open beaches in oarai at that time. it’s dangerous.” surprisingly i did not particularly miss my mother or feel sad. we never saw him again. T he face of a g oby “They’ve issued me a summer uniform so i imagine i’ll be going to the south.“ such is the scene as my mother has described it to me. ibaraki prefecture. watching me play on the shores. mischievous child. i was a happy. the scars it left around my navel are still clearly visible today.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 22 iii. he 23 . Though this is a period when children need no one more than their mothers and are apt to cry from loneliness when denied their company. she was almost too radiant to look at.” said the man himself. my grandmother and great-grandmother treated me with moxa. i shook his hand when he went into the station. There is a second moment i recall. Little granny’s voice would ring out. his head shaved clean and clad in the same military uniform he wore the day he left for the front. where i’d been sent to live. There are three other moments that stand out in my memory. The first took place at my mother’s home in oarai.

my aunt. The school stood very close to the yasukuni shrine.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 24 is holding a child who. my mother worked hard as a dressmaker. but without uttering a word he walked on by. child that i was. and took to guzzling whiskey. her younger sister. and i believe i asked the question essentially to irritate my mother. and one day out of the blue i asked her. born in the heart of shinjuku. where i got off and cut diagonally across the shrine precincts to enter the school grounds through the back gate. i raised high it up over my head and heard a dull thump. in the fifth grade i transferred from the public elementary school i had been attending to a private school called the gyōsei gakuen. i remember thinking that the american soldiers were the kinder sort. and night after night wandered the streets of Tokyo before swallowing the pills that allowed me to sleep. or the school of the morning’s stars. i deceitfully manipulated woman. i was outside playing catch with a soft white ball. a second later somebody punched me powerfully in the head. doted on me as if i were her own child. i never imagining that my very own father was enshrined at yasukuni along with the souls of all other japanese military who had died in service to their 24 25 . after the funeral. though i was not particularly fond of it. having been born on october 3. it seems it would have been but shortly before the war came to an end. in time. Throughout junior and senior high school my commute would take me on the number twelve line from shinjuku to the top of Kudan hill. as a child. asking again and again why i had no father. his remains have yet to come home. my mother held a funeral for my father in spite of the fact that none of his remains had been returned to us. i reached adulthood. i was surely also motivated by the inconsolable anxieties that arise in puberty. was just one month past his first birthday. died in the line of duty during fierce fighting in the mountainous region east of baguio. and he had married late in life. leaving a slight mark on its polished black exterior. i turned around to find a red-faced gi holding his head in his hands. mother had always held out hope that he would someday come home. he was thirty-six years old at the time. my world did not include things like carrying the floats from the shrines during festivals or even the shinto religion itself. i remember that at some point after i entered elementary school. she hired a tutor for me and sent me for supplementary lessons at a cram school. a stray ball hit a car. what year would my father have been drafted? counting the years and months. on another day i was out swinging a wooden sword. i cowered to think of the trouble i was in. “why don’t i have a father?” his absence was not something that particularly saddened me. To eke out a living as a war widow my mother worked from morning until night running a dressmaking shop in the seedy Kabukicho area of shinjuku. i made her miserable. i took my tricycle out on the pathways between the rice paddies and rode and rode and rode until the sun went down. in the burnt-out plain that was Tokyo. once. but she decided on the funeral as a means of consoling the relatives and neighbors. my third memory dates to my days in junior high school. i think. philippines said the notification of death. 1943.

but… I was invited to fish for goby. 26 27 . “how can i accept the absurdities that led to his death? how can i possibly resign myself to it?” i once commented to my mother on it. even lovingly. undoubtedly one of the men stuffed into those rows of mulberry beds was my father. Namekata’s grandmother. about that commute. i walked it daily. my one and only father. one right after the other and with the greatest of ease. doesn’t it?” The lively laughter of my buddy Namekata! “It’s the same with the face of any fish. so I started it. and with never an inkling that my father was enshrined there. after all. curiously. Only to wrap the second half of it in spit and swallow it down. But take a good. it was. was a spirited soul. They used instead modified fishing boats. the route i took to school at a time i was still pure. you are not to join The association of survivors of the war dead. “why in the world would you say something like that?” The best time catch them is after the autumn equinox So it is a little too early. the distant ancestors of man…” Even I thought my response was rather trite. long look. they sank them. She went into labor in the middle of it. reviewing the historical record i find that in those final days of the war there were no longer any transport ships to move the troops to points in the south. The goby’s face Looks a bit like a human’s. and the heat unbearable. her roots in the old downtown district Of Kakigarachō in Tokyo. The sound of my footsteps on the gravel. “Cook this guy up as tempura and you’ll find him rather tasty. in moments of weakness i allow myself to think. “whatever else you may do. my attention instead was on the crunching noise that my feet made as i tread the gravel pathways of yasukuni. died in the line of duty during fierce fighting in the mountainous region east of baguio. philippines said the notification of death.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 26 country. submarines or bombers found these fishing boats. when u. after all. “Goby caught after the equinox work best for palsy. For some reason The story was one he told often. his remains have not been repatriated. And he came into the world.” This old saying was one familiar to me. i remember it with affection. They are. It was high noon on the day Japan lost the war.s. which they equipped with round wooden pillars painted green and carved to look like artillery. And his mother had been listening to the emperor’s radio broadcast. and was proud of. Tokyo Bay was perfectly calm and the weather clear The glare was intense.” she gave me a puzzled look and said. the feeling that passed into my feet as i walked – these things. are what i remember fondly. The troops would be squeezed below deck in rows of hammocks set up like the mulberry beds used in the raising of silkworms.

traveling via the siberian railroad. i set off on a journey to europe. Thinking about how furiously my mother worked to support me. to please my mother. and it made me sick to my stomach. and all the mountains of garbage. Those goby in the Tokyo bay? What is it. i studied to enter one of the prestigious universities that the rich boys attended. my thoughts that day as i explored the streets of rome. eventually. Though they pour toxic waste into the rivers. though. in this sense my work might be considered the epitome of some gaudy attempt to attract attention. 2 in my youth i wanted to become a painter. to take it one step further. were of a different sort. phrased in terms of a reaction to the growing environmental crisis. prevented me from choosing that path to certain destitution. we had the Great Kanto Earthquake. have an innate desire to be understood. or some sort of meaning associated with it. any building found on any alley leading off any major avenue had a story behind it. Both disasters left tens of thousands in the Sumida River. about my third year there. emi music japan. i felt that screaming out for ecological solutions and volunteer work would not be nearly as effective as the complete disposal of all man-made edifices. 28 29 . Dying of burns or drowning in its waters. it made it impossible to relax and simply take in the sights. all cobbledtogether explanations. eventually. lyrics by hitoshi anzai. it seemed the best thing one could do for the sake of the earth would be to die on the spot. not surprisingly. music by chūei yoshikawa. humans will only pay attention to it on the day the dead fish rise to the note 2 : A Short Tale of Tokyo Bay. it lost all meaning for me and i found myself despondent. The journey took me. do you think. I Gotta Go [Saa. however. what i remember most vividly is the fact that the city made me furious. they build things and they speak in order to make their presence known. an anecdote connected to it. human beings. And the extended air raids on the Anniversary of Victory in the Russo-Japanese War? We scrambled and somehow managed to come out alive. you know. ikanakya]. to the city of rome. included on yohji yamamoto’s album Well. 1991. they’ve been eating to make them so big? There are people who refused to eat goby their whole lives. The entire city was itself a sort of museum. or. and I remember it well.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 28 “The very year I married. whether young or old.

” “There wasn’t anything in particular that had to be done. doll-like women that some men so adore. mom. would you? and just let me say one thing. elegant madams would come into the shop with magazine clippings.” she said as she rolled up her flesh-colored stockings. i felt something akin to the desperation of that moment. and i simply hate that fact. mom. i’ve already survived twice as long as your husband did. i enrolled in a vocational school for dressmaking and. hourglass figures they had not. insisting that if i was serious about the work i should at least learn how to cut cloth.” “and…” “and what about your hair? isn’t it getting a little long? maybe you should get it cut. but i diligently took their measurements as i grumbled silently to myself about the impossibility of reproducing the magazine look. as a matter of course. and it prompted me to place myself in a Vanity Fair world where i made things that were anything but necessary. do me a favor. she lectured me. i spent my days tediously pinning fabric while pondering the question of what constitutes a proper profession for a man. don’t leave me all alone. in those days japanese women wore. but. leave me alone. jostled on all sides by women acquiring the skill in order to improve their marriage prospects. okay? mom. just don’t leave me behind. she was furious.” who in the world would be calling me this early in the morning? of course. imported. This reaction was only natural as she had expected me to leave the university and transition smoothly into a job at a fine company. then. so i decided to rest. it was my mother. i guess i’ll be going. okay? please. get cleaned up.” “well. “well. i was just dead tired. a place overflowing with women whose job was to titillate male customers.” said the voice on the line. that’s good to hear. i’ve been thinking about you living in that hotel. They had shaped my image of womanhood since childhood. and i was therefore determined to at all costs avoid creating the cute. “yes?” “you didn’t come into work yesterday. just a minute! you mean you’re going to just leave me here like this?” 30 31 . There is one thing i want to say. whatever you do. are you eating properly?” “i am. asking us to make them the outfits they saw there. when i began to make clothing my single thought was to have women wear what was thought of as men’s clothing. i hated it. intensifying my annoyance was the fact that the shop was in the Kabukicho area of shinjuku.” “was that it? anyway. “hello. after graduating university and finding myself without direction i casually suggested to my mother that i help her at the shop. i completed the course and began working at my mother’s dressmaking shop. Leave me alone. suddenly the phone rang. feminine clothing.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 30 surface. “hey.

no matter what sort of life we’ve been living. i know.” The rain fell in big drops that day. when the desire to escape suddenly comes over you. i’ve never seen one.” “but what if their shell cracks open? what happens then?” “in that case they just move into another snail’s shell. shouted out. when that happens. is there such a thing as a naked hermit crab?” “a naked hermit crab? hmm.” i know. you were ten years old. we’ll make plans to meet at gate 38. and now that i think about it. T he n aKed h ermiT c rab “hey. well. and these days the ashtrays have disappeared from the seats in first class. 32 33 . hermit crabs have a soft belly so they would die if they weren’t living in the borrowed shell of a snail.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 32 “what else can i do? i’ve got to get to work. next we’ll look for a cozy bar. The only difference is that now you’re six times older. there was no moon on that day. That’s the way to be. you know. the first thing that we’ll do is find a sunny apartment. for sure. if there is a woman there that strikes your fancy. That means we should have a big sofa in our living room. mom. on the way home from school you turned your face to the sky. i know. be sure to get in touch with me. and spun around in circles. i’ll speak to her in fluent spanish and bring her over for you. iV. Then there was the day that we actually did fly off to the other side of the world. i’ve forgotten what you look like these days. That was what we said. remember? when we arrive. ah. in those days the seats on the aeroflot flights made my ass hurt.

always. yet i know perfectly well that as long as i might wait. stained and dusty like me The greenery that I love looks nothing but black It sends forth new buds. but before this could come to pass. I do. 34 35 . Three days worth of clothing and a single piece of luggage in the apartment. I’ve got the money I can buy a life for her. i spread your ashes in the sea. I’ll set off on a journey. and a bed. I gotta go. and about a hundred books. I gotta go. you took your own life. That’s the way we talked about it. we could have a television. There has been nothing to make me sad. your call will never come. do I feel a chill? I’ve run and run. I’ve got the money I’ll buy what I dream of. i wanted to be with you. I’ve run to the finish. The scenery outside the window is familiar But it has been a long time since I’ve seen it like this Beyond the glass. yes. even as the years passed and you were reduced to skin and bones. it’s time. though. it is linked. still. That would make it perfect. to the sea that robbed you of the man so dear to you. and in the wink of an eye it drifted away. didn’t we? The phone in the hallway on the ground floor would ring in the middle of the night. But why. bright with yellow and green It seems I’ve been perhaps too lazy It seems I’ve worried perhaps too much Do not complain. too. This sea was not one with any particular significance for either of us. The cluster of gray particles from the urn was stolen by the roaring surf. and we did find a little apartment with a shared kitchen. it is linked to the sea where you once played so innocently. too. as you had always wanted. why. The sea was emerald green and its perfect blue stretched on forever. i wanted the chance to one day speak to a perfect stranger who just happened to sit nearby as i drank in a bar. forever. and i’d always be called to come and get you at the corner bar.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 34 ah. I was too serious a sort to live for the day I was unable to live for the day Well. or not. it’s time. either would be fine. and so. we can get by with just a shower. feel the cold. we won’t need a bath. you’ll be laughed at Stand firm To live for the day means One can’t live for the day Well.

I Gotta Go [Saa. a way to die. they die. Then. when this happens that creature known as man begins to seek the final stage of that growing dissonance. note 3 : Well. emi music japan. I gotta go. music by shion. she talks too much. feel the cold. and the chilled champagne you drink wrapped in your fluffy robe in a suite at the peninsula taste essentially the same. how could she possibly think she understands me? in the beginning women are always as calm and still as an unknown lake in the forest. though. The process is all the more troubling for one who has lived his life in the key of a minor for he will begin to search for a solution. The dissonance increases with age. ikanakya]. Living with a young woman is probably more than i can manage anymore. again. The woman’s words echoed brightly in the recesses of my hung over brain. 36 . There has been nothing to make me sad. I Gotta Go. 3 To you the taste of a beer bought with your last few coins when you are down and out. it reflected a mere shell of a man. I do. lyrics by shion. you’re just you. always. forever.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 36 I’ve run and run. we begin to hear quite clearly the sounds of our cells as. 1991. I was too serious a sort to live for the day I was unable to life for the day Well. included on yohji yamamoto’s album Well. yellow birds begin to reproduce and soon the surface of the lake is covered by them. your way to die. the sun rises. it’s time. bit by bit. “what ‘solution’?” The woman questions me again. and today. it’s as simple as that. and i love you. and so i don’t have the slightest intention of exposing that side of your nature that drives you to transgress convention based on your personal principles. i dragged my sluggish body out of bed and tried smiling into the mirror. I’ve run to the finish. one by one.

but now he could do nothing but accept the situation in which he had been placed. and pass into the beyond a few days later. so i’d like to meet my end while i’m fleeing the world and burying myself in my work. i decided to go with her. d eaTh and a zaLeas The azaleas. i’ve got to be going. blooming verdantly. honey. sacrificing myself? it would be nothing as dashing as that. i’ve got work to do. my wife’s father was already connected to three tubes and every time the nurses sat him up in the bed we could see countless bruises left by internal hemorrhaging. illuminated by the white light of the streetlamps. around the guardrails built beside the roadways that criss-cross the japanese archipelago (who in the world built them?). and it was may. i’m going to work. “next one in will be me. we arrived at the hospital to find that the relatives had gotten there before us. bloomed. The fresh greenery of the new buds pushed forth the petals in a daring competition to see which would blossom first. The trip happened to coincide with a string of national holidays and the world was overflowing with people on the move. i got a sudden work order so i’ve just got to go. The moment the heavy iron door to the crematory’s furnace slammed shut i thought. and they bloom in wild profusion.” again. the blossoms colored somewhere between a light purple and pink.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 38 “To collapse right in the middle of work. and we took our son. just thinking about them turned my mood sour. the woman questions me. she told me that she was going to her hometown to visit her father. the flowers opened wide like some woman spreading her legs. it would be more like dying on the run. grow massive beds of azaleas. be carried to the hospital. their colors seemed even more artificial. at this time of year. i’ve always escaped into my work. for no particular reason. to be diagnosed with some grave illness.” V. out on the street the azaleas remained the same. The three of us boarded the bullet train and headed west. i was overcome with a sudden exhaustion and left the hospital alone. sorry. There were thousands of them. which i hate. That would be the ideal. 38 39 . he had been a strong. whose condition had taken a turn for the worse. dependable fellow. well. but we’ll get together again soon.” “really? That would be like sacrificing yourself for some feudal lord.

who had recently fulfilled their duties as parents. however. i merge with the surface of that pulsating space? will there come a day when i begin to draw my breath in such a world. a timid striped sky Nestled deeply in his arms The thin bridge of a nose and a gaping mouth. and even at its end there was no sign that any conclusions would be reached. and with tattered shoes Clearing his throat self-consciously An old man and dog slowly pass by A disgruntled taxi slams on its brakes Spring. when i no longer distinguish between men and women. it may have been his final remonstration. the generation of his children. will you survive? Soon the azaleas I detest will bloom Soon the spring I detest will arrive Soon the azaleas I detest will bloom 4 The family conference began sometime past midnight. music by yohji yamamoto. before one issue was concluded a second would be raised. on that distant horizon. who had been born after i had reached fifty. a Dog. come too late and too slowly Spring comes again.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 40 Yellow sweatshirt sleeping on the bench Khaki trousers folded back On a young forehead deep wrinkles sleep The morning is cold in a park left behind Between the buildings. i forget my resistance to all things and accept them instead. and a Yellow Sweatshirt. 1997. while i was still an infant he was conscripted and served. Both child-like Soon the detested azaleas will bloom Does someone as young as you think this means the end? With a heart full of ambition. and his remains were never returned to us. will there someday come a time when my anger dissipates as well? will there come a day when my mouth drops open. agent consipio. and indifference. when i transcend all of the artifice that i spread? will there come a day when. then two. Empty Mood. included on yohji yamamoto’s album Hem: Handful. so faint and indistinct? note 4 : Azaleas. 40 41 . was that of grandchild. never to return. Those present included one who was about to complete his life’s mission in the hospital bed. lyrics by yohji yamamoto. i never knew my own father. buried in his grave is the Leica camera that he so adored. This eccentric configuration of a family’s various generations continued the conference for one hour. his position. belonged to none of these generations. my son. a week later my father-in-law left this world. a newly-wed grandchild who was about to set out to build a life for the future.

These are the angry youth. i respond wholeheartedly. i chase the woman from behind. i chase the woman from behind. in fact. if it ends. to be liked by them. women describe this aspect of my personality as “sweet. They begin to feel an intense irritation toward commonplace questions such as the reasons for their presence in the world. i desire only to settle each and every score immediately. it would be no exaggeration to say that this sense of something missing has been what has driven me to where i am today. even if they last but an instant. a woman i love.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 42 Vi. it would all end if she turned around. holding nothing back. it ends. anyone born into this world must at some point consider the nature of things. plagued as i am by anxiety. more than anything it is this feeling of an absence that has been my most intimate friend. and for that very reason. regardless of whether i am engaged with someone important. i am. n exT To my h earT. to be of some service to them. a persistent sense that something is missing. but i wish you were dead! why did things have to turn out this way?” it is the punk mentality. since childhood. a man who may turn heartless in an instant. c Lose To my s Tomach in the depths of my soul. or anybody else. i pursue her. a complete stranger. mom. The irritation cannot be eased. buffoonish desire to be close to people.” i don’t deserve such praise. appearing first in one’s early teens. “i know it’s not right. the 42 43 . it is simply that i cannot do otherwise. Missing somebody i cherish the emotions that arise in each and every situation. it is the root of my clownish. in time this irritation leads one to think.

time has passed. however. I imagine. like a boy. you drift by on a raft. is so comical that it makes one want to cry. in the end. bobbing and swaying. as more years pass. i will simply live. jots down some song lyrics and. next. somehow funny Grown old. unbearable If my hair was always soft and flowing I don’t think I could stand it. a new character that clings there tenaciously. close to my chest The reason for that sadness remains. there emerges another self in the soul. the story of how the inhabitants of a rural village would leave their elderly on deserted mountaintops to starve to death once they were no longer able to contribute to the wellbeing of the community. bobbing and swaying. 44 45 . “it is all perfectly logical.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 44 nasty. This alternative self. For now. isn’t it?” at this point. with a guitar in hand. Then. how many literary classics can we get through life without reading? will i die before i have had an affair with another’s wife? wherever i look i find nothing of which i can be proud. Back then.” they say. Somehow sad. Life. right before my eyes. it is quite a predicament. being who they are. and these punks will forever be just that nasty. from some corner they hear the folktale obasuteyama. a raft without oars. they reach the point where living itself is a bother and they begin to think of how they will die. close to my stomach There is still a reason to weep. now. to a man are held prisoner by their misunderstandings. one day. though. Yes. Time has passed. a man floats by. and gratefully accept the gifts granted by the heavens. “what could be wrong with discarding an old woman once she is no longer of use. calmly acknowledging that at some point my time will come. so i will take what is there for the taking. I can find no other way to say it. Powerless. like a boy Somehow lonely. The people around him. and they begin to refer to him as a beat poet. aggressive kids of punk. It would be. when they called us young. Perhaps because I was searching madly for something When I looked in the mirror and tried to smile I saw the reflection of a shell of a man If the body alone was always healthy. angry kids. that’s it. I liked myself a little better. alone. somehow appealing Next to my heart. begins to sing. In a corner of my heart.

The morning sun feels good when the sycamores grow fragrant. somehow appealing 5 Vii. ikanakya]. like a boy. an elderly gentleman. included on yohji yamamoto’s album Well. 46 47 .YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 46 Perhaps it is because I feel some remorse towards Thing around me which I’ve sullied in life And those whom I’ve hurt. emi music japan. somehow funny Grown old. Having travelled all these miles. just a short walk away. always the same couple passes as they walk their dog. i smile. Somehow sad. everyday i order a café au lait and an omelet. Close to my Stomach. nothing better than the first smoke in the morning! *** note 5 : Next to my Heart. The morning sunlight shines. his greeting. each day its angle changing subtly. across the terrace sits the same gentleman reading the same newspaper. Powerless. 1991. ah. I Gotta Go [Saa. T he c afé in The m orning i often wake up early these days. music by yohji yamamoto. “sightseeing?” asks the elderly gentleman over his shoulder. the garcon. our clipped conversation – these things are always the same. a tilted beret on his head and a cane in one hand strolls by. Will having lived doing my best Somehow make it all alright? Or will having exhausted myself in selfish pursuits Leave me the laughing stock of all? I realize these things only just now. lyrics by yohji yamamoto. when the weather is nice i take my breakfast at the same café. my table on the terrace. like a boy Somehow lonely.

i reached for my favorite. The dishes were placed on the rotating surface in the center of the table. each a little late. it was a rather muggy day. “hey. i giggled and we exchanged glances. that famous song for the two of us?” There had never been any such a song. we spun it round and round. do you remember the song that bob dylan wrote for us. i seem to remember it being chinese food. but in a gesture unusual for me. we drank round after round. with my chopsticks. two women who had come from overseas on business. the prawns in chili sauce. Then. There were five us once at a dinner party. and by the time all were gathered it was already after ten.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:21 Page 48 i guess i love this man even now. suddenly the man spoke. my husband. this man and me. 48 49 . The members of the dinner party arrived separately.

YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 142 biography 143 .

145 . The funeral seemed to be one held by a war widow. and then there i was – watching the people lined up to pay their respects at a funeral i’d come across while pedaling along on my tricycle.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 144 i was born. and that’s how my life began. 1981 The first yohji yamamoto collection in paris. as he watched the adults conduct their sad ceremony. 1966 graduated from Keiō university. Tokyo 1969 graduated from the bunka fashion college. a woman who’d given up hope that her husband might yet return from the war. the boy experienced anger and emptiness for the first time. a breech birth. a decade in which i worked harder than i ever have before or since a decade in which i suffered more than i ever have before or since absorbed in my work. in the shinjuku district of Tokyo. Tokyo The lost decade. i’m a rebellious sort. in the 1940s.… and with no recollection of the time.

by some bizarre twist of fate we both spoke of the same memories. 146 .YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 146 1989 The release of Notebook on Cities and Clothes. and from that instant on we were bound by the deepest of friendships. a film directed by Wim Wenders i was born in the ruins of postwar Tokyo and met wim wenders in paris some decades later.

a members only club in aoyama that i frequented in those days. “we appreciate your official agreement to do the costuming for the upcoming wagner opera. i’m in trouble and i need your help. you can count on me. husband and wife. They arrived together. i knew i couldn’t compete with him.” That evening we found ourselves in 1999. on the very first day we met we shared raunchy stories deep into the night. and i was informed that a visitor had arrived. mumbling in english. i’ve recently been commissioned to do a wagnerian opera. “my name is heiner müller and i’m a playwright. we got thoroughly drunk and i remember thinking that this guy was ten times nastier than me. one day my extension rang. some months later the wagners expressed an interest in paying me a formal visit.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 148 1993 Costume design for the Wagner opera Tristan and Isolde in the bayreuth Festival The person i respected most in the entire world is heiner müller.” what? had i agreed to that? 149 .” “well…” “i want to smash the wagnerian tradition.” “smash it? in that case. i went to the press room to find a man sitting quietly its large table. he began to speak.

enduring the three years of 150 . i’d been duped. i’d be off to bayreuth. subversive thinker. that man named heiner müller never once spoke to me about opera. entirely drained. and so for three years. since the wagners had come themselves on a formal visit i didn’t see any way i could wiggle out of the project. as soon as i’d finished my paris collection. “why in the world am i doing this?” Truth be told. i’d just finished the paris collection and. born in east germany. he first made a name for himself with the radical play titled The Hamlet Machine. Though he would refer to them as consultations. he was praised as a genius on a par with brecht. my mother was for some unknown reason a big fan of the bolshoi ballet and crazy about all the traditional arts of europe. he was also constantly monitored as a dangerous. heiner müller. over vodka and cigars he would instead spin tales about the various misdeeds of his checkered past while insisting that the human body needed meat. That’s what i told myself as i bounced back and forth between paris and bayreuth. so that must have been it – i did the costuming work as a way of showing my respect for her. telling müller to come to me. my theory is that wim wenders was involved from the very beginning.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 150 müller had really gotten the better of me. had boarded a airplane bound for bayreuth when it struck me.

but i do remember what she said when it was over. getting to know this man has been a great blessing. 152 153 . “has it ever been done with an all nude cast?” i’d asked. The overture began. including one in which the “costuming” had presented an all nude cast for the performance. i worked on it for three years. where she was treated so majestically that in her elated state she donated 5 million yen to the wagner society! i guess this is just the perfect example of the designer’s sad fate.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 152 ups and downs until i finally arrived at the evening of the premier. i had to admit – that was impressive. “so this is what ‘culture’ is all about. in spite of the tradition behind it. my compensation was just 3 million yen. and before it was over my mother had fallen fast asleep. every last thing had been left to me.” i thought. hopefully. it was a terrible disappointment. whatever bad luck i may have had. both mikail and raisa gorbachev were in attendance. i can’t really say whether my mother saw this opera or not. The curtain remained lowered while this splendid piece of music rang out. so i knew i was going to have to do the costuming. “wasn’t that lovely!” “hmm…” from the costumes and the make-up to the shoes and the wigs. the monumental work of wagner from the classical canon has invited a wide variety of interpretations. heiner müller. my mother got invited to the wagner estate. The answer was in the affirmative. meeting him infused me with a poison more powerful than any i’d ever had before. as were a long list of other dazzling dignitaries.

curved stage i’d lined up dancers. too. remained frozen in their poses. i’d been deeply impressed by pina and so replied that i’d contribute. Then. tall and short. on the stage itself dancers who knew nothing of karate were attempting to learn the series of karate moves known as Heian Nidan. i had four or five dancers in a circle at the entrance to the opera house. once a spectator entered the theater itself. These dancers.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 154 1998 Collaboration in the celebrations for the 25th Anniversary of the Pina bausch Company. 154 . the pamphlet for the occasion announced my participation. as a performance in its own right. Tanztheater Wupperthal one day a fax arrived. before i knew it. and the zippers had been left unzipped. i’d dressed them in costumes that didn’t fit them. first. they were met with another sight. “come to wupperthal and do something for our 25th anniversary. They were learning it on the spot.” it was from pina bausch. though i had no idea what i should do. The theater was at full capacity for the evening. men and women. That was the fashion show that i offered that evening. welcoming the audience. They were all frozen in their poses. all in a random arrangement that left an uneven impression. in the first row in front of the large.

as things evolved the dancers on the stage began to master the karate movements. even if you do it simply as a favor to me. pina.” pina would dance. “i’ll design a garment for you. at one corner of the stage a large. and the audience burst into applause. her ribs moving elegantly. pina had only to dance. now take a deep breathe and… attack!” 157 . The supple movements of pina’s body would easily absorb even the kicks and punches of the men who had been trained to kill their opponents with a single strike. providing the dancers with an overblown explanation of the breathing techniques involved. comical man spoke into a microphone. with a disinterested look on her face. “and i’d like you to dance in it. and the powerful men would confront her as she danced. absorbed in her own movements. “okay.” i said. alone and in the dark.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 156 and i’d made a request of pina.

YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 158 The performance offered none of the conventional cues on when to applaud. it had all been improvised. i then exited the stage. performed the karate pattern Heian Nidan. pina. though. for the finale i took the stage myself. and at first the audience was confused about how they should react. and in the process toppled four of the powerful men. they began to enjoy themselves. in time. i thoroughly enjoyed it. 158 .

we arrived. for what seem like an eternity in that office at the national broadcasting station we played around with that box of tissues… at least that’s how i remember it. and take on a life of its own. “i do have something like that. he attracted various sponsors and decided to make the film Until the End of the World. The project started to get more and more ambitious.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 160 1999 Costume design for the film Brother. japan’s national broadcasting station. Then. 161 . wim ended up grabbing a box of tissues that was in the room and began arranging it to look like a certain female body part. do you have something like this – some work you know won’t be a success but that you just have to see through to the end?” i was speechless for a second. when it reached the point where it seemed they were going to have wim film in hi-vision. with my eyes still trained straight ahead. wim blurted out. on the way home. by the director Takeshi kitano after wim enjoyed such great success with Wings of Desire. by director Takeshi kitano 2002 Costume design for the film Dolls. the two of us. no. “no.” sometimes a project starts to inflate. but couldn’t sit still. that’s not how it’s shaped!” i said. just as we drove onto the ramp leading off the elevated highway. expanding like a bubble. yohji. like a bubble.”hey. i took him for advice from nhK. i answered.

the costumes for a film can overshadow the hero. for that project we had a specialist in film costumes join us.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 162 once Takeshi Kitano said. 162 . he’s not stuck in that claustrophobic worldview that comes from japan’s island mentality. and after i came up with the concept i left the rest to her. leaving the viewers heartbroken. it is really very difficult to decide the limits on how far one should go with it. ozu’s themes have a universality that speaks to the whole world. i’ve kept those ideas in mind with my costumes. They must never look to outshine the script. i think Brother turned out better than Dolls in terms of the relationship between the costumes and the film. “in hollywood movies they even spend a fortune on the costumes for the minor characters. and in the work i’ve done with Takeshi. even though i’ve done it. i have some rather serious doubts about fashion designers doing the costumes for films. if they aren’t handled carefully. in my case. using his distinctive camera angles he doggedly pursues his subject. treating always the clash between human emotions and the sense of duty. Zatoichi (The blind swordsman) has actually been the most successful. The japanese film director yasujirō ozu treats everyday sorts of topics from a disinterested perspective. so.” he was probably jealous and wanted to use me to see what he might be able to do. That’s what makes costume design for films such challenging work. it would probably be better to have me doing the film score instead. The costumes for a film have to be subordinate to the vision as it appears in the script.

he intentionally does not insert that message. 164 . the empty gaps in time and space. i also like those points where his “dignity of violence” emerges. not so much as a creator of films. too. he would just forge ahead. and he had some failures. but as a friend. i think is closer to akira Kurosawa. in the places where he wants a message to get across. i worry a little about him these days. in these especially he shows a unique sense of ma. though.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 164 Takeshi Kitano. The Takeshi films i like best are ones for which i didn’t do the costuming. making the movies he had to before he could proceed to the next level. Kurosawa did grand epics. like Sonatine and Hana-Bi (fireworks).

YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 166 surprise prizes? 1994 awarded french chevalier de L’ordre des arts et des Lettres 2004 awarded japanese government’s medal with purple ribbon (spring) 2005 awarded french national order of merit. London 167 . officer 2006 awarded british royal society of arts’ honorary royal designer of industry 2008 awarded an honorary doctoral degree by the university of the arts.

in any form or by any means. yohji yamamoto inc. a nTwerp p rinTing ProoST. however. copyright © 2010 yohji yamamoto drawings copyright © 2010 nick Knight photography copyright © 2010 bernd hartung photography copyright © 2010 donata wenders photography copyright © 2010 yutaka yamamoto photography www. please contact the publisher. isbn 978-90-5544-983-5 | d/2010/6328/77 190 191 . electronic or mechanical.YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 190 c rediTs p1 p73 p74 p82 p93 p106 p113 p124 p128 p133 p142 p144 p147 p148 p151 p153 p155 p156 p160 p163 p165 p166 yohji yamamoto nick Knight nick Knight donata wenders yohji yamamoto yohji yamamoto yohji yamamoto nick Knight yohji yamamoto yohji yamamoto yutaka yamamoto donata wenders alice springs yutaka yamamoto yutaka yamamoto yutaka yamamoto bernd hartung bernd hartung courtesy office Kitano inc.be issues of technique and craftsmanship as addressed in this chapter are also expounded in yohji yamamoto’s Theory of Fashion Evolution [Yohji Yamamoto no fashion shinkaron]. without prior permission in writing from the publisher. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders. a series of articles published in the magazine High Fashion in 1986 and 1987. including photocopy. All rights reserved. or any other information storage and retrieval system.ludion. you feel that you have inadvertently been overlooked. yohji yamamoto donata wenders c oLophon a uThors Y ohji YAMAMoTo & A ï MiTSUDA c onTribuTors S eiGoW MATSUokA & i rène SilvAGni T ransLaTion j AMeS DorSeY g raphic d esign PAUl boUDenS p hoTograVure STeUrS. recording. If. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted. T urnhouT copyright © 2010 The authors and the contributors copyright © 2010 Ludion and yohji yamamoto inc.

YY My Dear Bomb EN_Layout 1 11/10/10 12:22 Page 192 192 .