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A novel about music, love, and social media


Written by Sebastiano Mereu

Copyright © Sebastiano Mereu, 2011
All rights reserved.
No part of this novel might be used or reproduced in
any manner without the written permission of the
Google the author for contact information.
This is a fiction novel. The main characters and their
names were created for The November Sun. Other
mentioned characters are public figures. The schools
and some businesses mentioned in the novel do exist,
but their actions and attitudes, as described in the
novel, are purely fictional.

This edition of the novel is unedited.

The story behind this novel
It was August 2005 when I went to Japan for the first
time in my life. I didnʼt know what to expect. I had
never been further east than Eastern Europe up until
that point. My travels and studies had primarily taken
me to Western Europe and to the USA. But somehow,
it just felt right to spend some time in Japan.
My International Management studies at the
University of Applied Sciences Northwestern
Switzerland (FHNW), required me to study abroad, so
I thought, if I have to go abroad, I want to study in a
country I donʼt know much about. East Asia was my
first, and honestly, only choice. I knew Japan would be
the country I want to go to, but since our school
would only send two students to Japan, I had to
consider other countries as well. The next choices
were South Korea and China.
After a couple of weeks, FHNW sent me a notification
saying that they would send me to Kansai Gaidai
University. I was ecstatic. I had googled the university
before and felt it was the most appropriate fit for me.
I took Japanese language classes to prepare myself for
my year in Japan, even before I knew that I could go.
After eight months of preparing myself for two
semesters at Kansai Gaidai University, I was finally
able to leave for the land of the rising sun. I have to
admit that the first couple weeks were hard. I even
thought about quitting and spending my semester
abroad in a country where I would already speak the
language. France and Italy were my first choices all of
a sudden. Why is that? Well, I had a culture shock. My
Japanese was way worse than I thought it was, I
couldn't understand why Japanese are the way they
are, and the teaching style was very different from
what I was used to.
Fortunately, I met wonderful people, who helped me
understand the Japanese culture, and eventually, I
overcame my culture shock. It also helped that I fell in
love with a Japanese girl. That girl became my wife a
few years later.
Another couple of people, who made me feel at home
in Japan, were my friends from the GMS Blues Band,
Jiri and Garr. Both had been living in Japan for many
years and knew very well what Japan had to offer.
Both were very successful at what they did, and they
still are.
Besides playing with Garr and Jiri, I also played with a
Japanese rock band, where I was the only foreigner.
Since my bandmates didnʼt speak very well English
and my Japanese wasnʼt very good either,
communication was rather difficult. However, it was
lots of fun and I learned a great deal just by hanging
out with them.
This novel is based on true stories from bands I played
in before, during, and after my year in Japan. I tried to
show how young bands can work on a possible career
today using technology that is right at their fingertips.
A computer can be found in basically every household.
Itʼs an essential tool, especially for students. Also,
everyone has the possibility to use social media to
connect with friends or people who share the same
passion, such as music, in the case of Yuki and her
When I decided to write a book on social media, I told
myself, ʻSebi, there are many great books and blogs on
social media already. No one needs another book on
social media.ʼ Luckily, I had just read The Music Lesson
by Victor Wooten, a fantastic bassist and author, who
basically explained music theory in a fiction book. I
embraced his approach with social media and music,
and added some drama to it.
At this point Iʼd like to express my gratitude to
everyone who has ever inspired me in one way or
another and to everyone who found the time to pick
up this novel. Thank you.
March 2011
Dedicated to Aya,
Lina & Vittorio Mereu-La Rosa,
and Harumi & Kunihiro Noguchi.
Episode 1
A beautiful Monday morning in Hirakata

It’s a beautiful Monday morning in Hirakata, a city

with a population of about 400,000, located halfway
between Osaka and Kyoto, in the heart of the Kansai
region. The August sun looks like a delicious orange
floating in the Japanese sky, and many claim she is
responsible for a high percentage of humidity in the
Land of the Rising Sun, at least in the summer.
Salarymen wipe off sweat from their faces after every
move they make, but do not consider taking off their
jackets. They are very committed to their dress code
and don’t show any sign of overheating in their suits,
except the accumulated sweat on their noses. Well-
dressed Japanese ladies, biking down to the city center,
wear gloves that cover their entire arms. For them it’s
a necessary precaution to avoid sunburn or simply
getting taint. And, of course, wearing a boushi
(translation: hat) is a must for all ladies.
“Attsuuuu! I don’t like this heat. Summertime in Japan
is terrible,” Yuki tells her friend and classmate Maki.
“You’re never happy. Wintertime is too cold and
summertime is too hot for you. At least now you can
wear that cute summer dress you found at
Shimamura.” Maki looks at Yuki and smiles with her
eyes shut. Yuki stops at a vending machine and gets
herself a bottle of Pocari Sweat. “A revitalizing drink is
the right choice for this kind of weather,” she thinks.

“This heat makes me want to drink a lot. But then I
have to pee. I don’t like that.” Yuki is standing next to
her bike and takes one little sip at a time.
Maki’s phone rings. She doesn’t pick it up right away.
For whatever reason, incomprehensible to Yuki, Maki
always needs to sing along with her ringtone. It’s Ken
Hirai’s 2006 hit-song, POP STAR. Maki sings ♫ I
wanna be a pop star, kimi wo motto ♫ when Yuki grabs
her phone and picks up with an annoyed voice,
“Moshi moshi.”
It’s Yutaro, Maki’s bandmate from their university
music club. “Where are you guys? Everybody is at the
studio in Korien getting ready for rehearsal.” Yutaro
doesn’t sound annoyed at all, but most probably he is.
Like most Japanese guys, Yutaro is always in control
and tries not to show any kind of emotions. “We’ll be
there soon.” Yuki hangs up and puts the phone back
into Maki’s pocket. “Maki, let’s hurry. They’re already
in the studio.”
In Korien—Yuki and Maki finally arrive in Korien, a
little town three stops from Hirakata station, thirty
minutes late, but that’s okay. All members from a
different band were hanging out at the studio before
their actual rehearsal slot and didn’t mind to fill the
slot Maki’s band was supposed to take. In order for
Maki’s band not to waste money on the studio rent for
thirty minutes not used, Yutaro decided to give the
slot to the other band. He is allowed to do that,
because he is the president of the university music

club and has the authority to make almost any kind of
Music studios in Japan are places where musicians can
rent a room on an hourly basis. These music spaces
are fully equipped with everything a band needs for a
rehearsal. The music studio in Korien has a handful of
rooms with drums, bass and guitar amplifiers,
microphones and a PA. Musicians only need to bring
their individual instruments, such as guitars, basses, or
keyboards, and of course cables.
Maki and Yuki enter the premises and greet their
peers, “Ohayo!” A choral Ohayo! echoes back. Yutaro
approaches the girls and tells them that another band
took Maki’s band slot. “Thank you very much for
organizing that.” Maki bows. “No problem. But please
make sure this doesn’t happen again. We are all
university students and don’t have money to waste.”
Yutaro stops and looks at Yuki.
“Did you decide what instrument you will play and in
which band?” Yuki nods. “I’ll play bass and will sing
lead in Hiko’s band.” Yutaro smiles and replies, “So
you want to be Nana and Billy Sheehan in one
person?” Yuki tries to suppress a laugh, but then
admits smiling, “That’s my aim.” “Then prove it.
But… did you talk to Hiko about this?” Yutaro points
outside the studio where Hiko is shredding on his
guitar to warm up for rehearsal. “No, but he will want
me. They have no bass player and no singer. What can
they do with only guitar and drums?”

While all rooms are occupied by bands from the music
club, a dozen of other students are hanging out in
front of the studio entrance gossiping and warming up
on their guitars and basses or drumming with a couple
of sticks on anything that makes noise when hit. Yuki
approaches Hiko holding her second-hand Music-Man
bass on its neck.
“Hiko, can I join your band?” Hiko looks at her and
keeps playing warm-up lines up and down the neck of
his guitar without saying a word. Even though his
beautiful polished Yamaha guitar is not plugged in,
Yuki can hear the perfection of Hiko’s technique.
Every note sings and his timing is impressive.
Yuki has wanted to play with Hiko ever since she
heard him playing with a few friends in downtown
Osaka. They had organized a showcase on Osaka’s
largest walkway, where many bands try to get
discovered or sell their self-produced CDs. That day,
Maki had dragged Yuki along and Yuki understood
that she had to put in some extra effort to improve her
skills, if she wanted to play with prodigies such as
Hiko. When Yuki heard that Hiko’s bass player left
their university music club band, she was too shy to
ask if she could fill in. At the time, she felt she wasn’t
good enough to play with Hiko.
Hiko stops his warm-up exercise. “Hm. Why do you
want to join our band?” he asks.

Episode 2
The first rehearsal

“Obviously, you need a bass player for your upcoming

live gigs and I’m looking for a band I can go on stage
with,” Yuki tells Hiko. “Have you ever played any
lives? We are planning to play live a lot.” Hiko’s words
don’t impress Yuki. She stays cool. “Huh. But how are
you going to play live without a bass player? You are a
virtuoso guitar player, and when you shred on your
guitar, your drummer seems quite lost without a
bassline. And if I recall right, you have no singer
either. Or are you going to be playing guitar, bass, and
sing all at the same time?”
Yuki gives Hiko time to respond, but he doesn’t. She
continues, “Well, that’d be a truly remarkable thing to
do. Nonetheless, a great guitar player like you should
focus on playing guitar on stage. I think that’s what
your fans want to see. So, why don’t you do that and
let me play bass and sing?” Yuki’s words put a smile
on Hiko’s face. She goes on, “And, I think that a girl
like me in your band is good for the band’s
marketing.” Hiko can’t stop laughing.
“Okay, I will send you MP3s and lyrics of all the songs
we’re planning to play live. You will have to learn
them until next week and you will audition for us.
After that, we’ll decide if you’re as good as you believe
you are.” Yuki puts on a serious face. “Why don’t you
just tell me now which songs you were going to

rehearse today and I’ll join you in the studio already?
That will surely save us time.” Hiko looks surprised.
He agrees. “What’s your email address? I’ll send you
our set list and some chord changes for our originals,
and we’ll see you in studio 3 in about fifty minutes.
Okay?” Yuki nods.
Fifty minutes later, it’s time for Yuki to join Hiko and
his drummer in studio 3 for their first rehearsal
together that will determine if Yuki will become a
member of the band or if she has to look for a
different group. She spent the last 50 minutes listening
to songs from their set list on her cell phone.
Nowadays, basically all cell phones have Internet
connection and it’s easy to find any song on Youtube
or on another video and music platform online.
Fortunately, Yuki already knew all the songs on the
band’s set list, even their original songs. Hiko uploads
all his demos onto Youtube and adds links to free
downloads of MP3s and iPod videos in the info box.
That way, people download his productions and
spread them through Mixi, Facebook, Twitter and
other blogs. That’s how Yuki got a hold of them. And
since Hiko added chords to the videos, she could play
along and learn the songs in no time.
“Yuki, meet Junji, our drummer.” Yuki bows and
introduces herself, “Hajimemashite. Yuki desu. Douzo
yoroshiku.” Junji nods while juggling with his
drumsticks behind the drums. “We can talk later. Let’s
use our time wisely and start playing right away,” Hiko
suggests. Yuki plugs her bass into an Ampeg amp with

an 8x10 inch cabinet and slaps a funky line on her
bass. She gets the attention of Junji and Hiko right
away. Hiko shouts, “Okay! Let’s play ‘Fallinʼ in love on
Facebook’. Junji, count it in!” “Ichi, ni, san, shi!” And
the trio rocks hard and loud in studio 3.
Yuki has never played with such a dynamic and
professional band before. Her eyes light up with the
first note they hit together. She can’t believe how great
it feels to lay down the bass line for such a gifted
guitar player as Hiko. And locking-in with a drummer
as tight as Junji makes her sound even more confident.
Even though they only play in a trio setting, it sounds
as if more musicians are rockin’ along. The energy is
immense, and when they get to the chorus, Hiko and
Junji add harmonies to Yuki’s lead and the magic is
perfect. The song has never sounded better in Yuki’s
She knows the song from Hiko’s Youtube channel,
but she doesn’t remember it being so much fun to
play. Outside studio 3, other music club members start
gathering to get a glimpse inside the room and watch
the three of them rockin’ out.
“Wow, who would have thought that Yuki could rock
like that?” Maki asks Yutaro. “Hm. As she said herself,
her aim is to be Nana and Billy Sheehan in one person,
and to me it seems as if she’s on the right track.”
Yutaro can’t stop watching Yuki running her airy
fingers across the fingerboard.

The song seems to never end. The trio goes off on
sharing solos and jammin’ to leads. It seems as if they
have been playing together for a long time. The
chemistry among Yuki, Hiko and Junji is incredible.
They are listening to each other and engaging in a
musical dialogue.
“Why didn’t I push her to play bass in my band?”
Yutaro keeps asking himself, when Maki interrupts his
thoughts, “Oh man, I should have told her to join our
band as a bass player. That Swiss exchange student,
who is playing with us, is so unreliable.” Yutaro tells
Maki, “I agree. Have you checked his Twitter
channel?” “No, why?” “He told us that he had to go
down to the city hall for his alien registration, but he is
tweeting pictures from an amusement park.” Maki
can’t believe it. “What’s his Twitter name?” Yutaro
replies, “@samsteiner” and Maki shouts, “Ussoooo!!”
Yutaro calms her down, “But he is a very nice guy and
a tremendous bass player nonetheless.”
After the one-hour session, Yuki asks Hiko, “Are you
happy with how we sounded?” Hiko looks over to
Junji, who is wiping off sweat from his face, and asks
him, “What do you think? Shall we give her a chance?”
“If she can handle hard practice, frequent rehearsal
sessions, and making weekly videos for Youtube, I’d
be willing to let her join us,” Junji replies with a big
smile on his face. Yuki smiles back.
“Yuki, let’s see where this trio can go. We have a clear
vision of our future and music plays the main role in
it. If you can commit to what Junji just said and if

you’re willing to work as a team to make this band
your top priority—after your university studies, of
course—then you can be one of us.” Yuki’s eyes are
shining like a supernova. “After all, as you mentioned
before the rehearsal, having a girl like you in our band
is good marketing.” Hiko winks at Yuki and the three
of them laugh.
The door opens and a girl that could have jumped out
of a Japanese fashion magazine enters studio 3. “Hiko,
you sounded amazing even from outside this room.
My dad is a lucky man to have you as his guitarist. But
why do you waste your time playing with these
amateurs when you can practice with real
professionals?” She puts her arms around Hiko’s neck
and ignores Junji and Yuki. He introduces the girl,
“Yuki, Junji, this is my girlfriend Rena.”
All of a sudden Yuki’s great mood is gone. She feels
jealous of Rena.

Episode 3
To commit or not ‘not-to’ commit

♪♫ Words in my mouth, someone told me to say. They go

unspoken ♪♫ Mr. Big’s 1996 hit-song Take Cover is
blasting through Yuki’s stereo in her 1-bedroom
apartment in Hirakata. She grabs her bass and plays
along. After the song is over, the next one starts with a
lonely distorted guitar playing eight straight down-
strokes on one chord, and a female voice enters with
the words ♫♪ akehanashita mado ni mawaru ranbu no
DEEP SKY, ah aoide (translation: I throw open the
window and turn to the stormy deep sky, ah and I
look up) ♫ It’s the song GLAMOROUS SKY by
NANA starring Mika Nakashima, the soundtrack from
a Japanese shojo manga series, which was later made
into a live-action movie.
Yuki sings along and smiles. “Yutaro is right. I really
want to be Nana and Billy Sheehan in one person.”
She puts down her bass. “Yuki, Yuki!” Maki is
knocking on Yuki’s door. “Come in.” Maki takes off
her shoes and enters with her guitar bag in her hand
and kneels down next to Yuki. “Hey, you guys really
rocked that studio yesterday! Everyone was really
impressed with what you got out of your instruments
as a trio.” Maki keeps talking and manifesting her

“We were all in a very good mood yesterday and
found the right song to start with. Still, we have a lot
of work in front of us, if we really want to make this
band work. I’m not sure this is really going to work,
though.” Yuki bites into her breakfast onigiri, a white
rice ball formed into a triangle and wrapped with nori.
Maki looks at her with a questioning gaze.
“What are you saying? You guys rocked that studio
like no one else did yesterday. I mean, you could just
take Hiko’s songs, rent a recording studio for a few
days, record those songs, and self-publish them onto
iTunes, Napster, Amazon or any other digital music
store for the world to enjoy them. I don’t understand
why you’re so negative.” Yuki puts down her onigiri. “I
have a feeling that Hiko’s girlfriend won’t be happy
with him playing in a band other than her dad’s
popular band, and sooner or later he will be
confronted with that.”
♫ Kowareru hodo aishitemo, sanbun no ichi mo tsutawaranai
(translation: Even if my love reaches the breaking
point, 1/3 of it won’t reach) ♪♪ The song 1/3 Pure
Emotions by SIAM SHADE is playing on Yuki’s stereo
and both girls sing along. They look at each other,
calm down and laugh. “Yuki, don’t worry. I’ve met
Hiko’s girlfriend and I know she can be a bitch,” Maki
tells Yuki with a mellow voice. Then she goes on,
“Sure, her dad is a pop star and they have money, and
she gets to travel a lot. But what does she have on
you? Nothing. You are a great and creative musician, a
great friend, and a plain hot girl! If I wouldn’t be

allover Yutaro, I would definitely try my moves on
you.” Yuki’s eyes jump wide-open. “Ah, shut up you
crazy closet otaku!” The girls hustle a bit and enjoy the
heartily laughs before getting ready to leave for
karaoke in Osaka.
At Hirakata station—Yutaro is waiting for his Keihan
train connection to Osaka. He is on his way to a live-
music bar to discuss a possible gig for his band. Then,
Hiko runs into him in front of the lift that goes to the
train tracks.
“Hey, Yutaro. Where are you heading to?” “Osaka.
You?” Yutaro shows no enthusiasm. “I’m heading to a
rehearsal with Rena’s dad’s band in Kyoto. We have to
meet in Kyoto, because Rena’s dad just got in by
Shinkansen from Tokyo and will have to leave tonight
again for an acoustic outdoor gig in Hiroshima with
our other guitar player,” Hiko explains.
“By the way, what do you think of our new trio with
Junji on drums and Yuki playing bass and singing?”
Yutaro pauses the music on his cell phone and puts
his earplugs in his pocket. “I think your trio sounded
good. Junji is a terrific drummer and Yuki is a fantastic
bass player and a very charismatic singer. You are a
very lucky guy. You finally found the missing part to
your music puzzle. I hope you will cherish what you
have now. Just don’t drop it like a hot potato when
you find something you think is better.”
Hiko’s smile vanishes. He understands the point
Yutaro is trying to make. Rena’s dad signed Hiko as a

guitar player for his band, the Genji Hatoyama Band, and
that means Hiko has to fulfill the agreement that if the
Genji Hatoyama Band gets booked for a concert, Hiko
has to call off other obligations, even if it means
paying a penalty. Because of that, all Genji Hatoyama
Band members refrain from playing with other bands.
They just teach on the side when they are not touring.
But Hiko wants to try and have his own band on the
Hiko knows it is going to be hard to study for
university, tour with Rena’s dad this coming autumn,
and work on a set with Yuki and Junji. “Listen,
Yutaro. I know what you mean, and I appreciate your
concern for my band. But we will be able to manage
this. I have finally found two great musicians that can
help me develop my music and bring it onto a stage,
and I won’t jeopardize that.”
The Keihan Sub-Express train bound for Yodoyabashi
just got in. Yutaro checks the time on his cell phone.
“Then, don’t jeopardize it. Gotta go. See ya.” Yutaro
runs upstairs to catch the train to Osaka and leaves
Hiko behind. Now Hiko is caught up in thoughts
about the conversation they just had and how to
handle the situation.
Obviously, playing for Genji Hatoyama is his ticket for
becoming a professional musician. But will Hiko be
able to focus on his own music and work on it with
Yuki and Junji? And what if the trio has a gig on the
same day as the Genji Hatoyama Band? How will he
bring such news to Yuki and Junji when he asks them

for a commitment, which he himself can’t bring to the

Episode 4
Hiko’s song

Besides having a Youtube channel, a Twitter feed, a

Facebook page, a Mixi account, and a bunch of other
social media tools, Hiko likes writing blog posts on his
cell phone when he’s riding the train and publishing
them right away. Sharing his thoughts with the world
makes him feel good. He likes to quote Charles
Leadbeater, the author of We-Think, especially the very
first sentence in the book: You are what you share.
That might be the reason why Hiko is so keen on
sharing all his music online. That is who he is and the
only thing he wants to be.
While on the Keihan train from Hirakata to Kyoto,
Hiko types a new post for his Japanese blog on his cell
phone. He usually writes on the train or in the subway.
For him it’s great how advanced technology is
nowadays. He doesn’t need to wait until he’s at home,
sitting in front of his computer. When he’s got
something to say to the world, no matter where he is,
he simply grabs his cell phone and shouts it out in bits
and bytes.
Hiko spends hardly any time in his small 1-bedroom
apartment. If he’s not rehearsing in a practice studio,
he’s usually studying at the library or out with friends
at a live gig. His small apartment is solely used for
sleeping. He doesn’t even like having his girlfriend
Rena over. The two of them frequently take a room at

a love hotel in Osaka for a couple of hours when they
want to be intimate with each other.
In Kyoto—The train stops at Sanjo, a district of
Kyoto. Hiko gets off the train and his cell phone rings.
“Moshi moshi.” “Hiko, it’s Genji. I’m sorry but we
have to reschedule today’s rehearsal.” Hiko stops at a
traffic light. “Hatoyama-san, sure no problem.” “I will
have my assistant contact you as soon as possible to
schedule a new date. I have to go now. Bye.” Mr.
Hatoyama hangs up.
Hiko thinks, “At least now I have time to work on my
own music. I had the whole day reserved for
rehearsing with them. Good thing Hatoyama-san
called it off.” He smiles. “Since they called off the
session, the studio space will be available.” Hiko
decides to go to the music studio, where he was
supposed to meet with the Genji Hatoyama Band, and
rent the room for a couple of hours and work on his
latest song.
At the studio, Hiko asks for the room that was
supposed to be taken by the Genji Hatoyama Band.
The clerk at the front desk points him to the studio all
to the back. It’s the largest and best-equipped room.
“Wow! I don’t think I can afford that room all by
myself. Do you happen to have a smaller room
available?” The clerk checks the list. “Yes, we have a
practice room for guitarists for 800 yen per hour
available for the next three hours.” “Great. I’ll take it
for 3 hours.” Hiko enters the room and gets
everything ready for recording.

He usually brings all his recording equipment along to
rehearsals. It’s not that heavy, and he is often most
creative after practice sessions. Hiko’s portable
recording studio consists of a MacBook Pro, an
external USB audio interface, an EV Cardinal
condenser microphone and a portable preamp. The
combination of his EV Cardinal mic and a portable
tube preamp makes the sound of his guitar and his
vocals wider and fuller for his recordings, even
without using high-end recording software.
Ever since he bought his first Mac, he’s been using
Garageband, a free music recording software that
enables Hiko to record and edit multiple tracks. And
with iMovie and Final Cut Express, he creates videos
for Youtube, where hundreds of thousands of people
have been enjoying his music all over the world for the
past two years.
Hiko believes in a new economic order, as discussed
by Chris Anderson in the 2005 book The Long Tail.
The Long Tail gives people the possibility to find
niches they are interested in and allows them to be
found by others, who share the same interests. For
those like Hiko, who want to be found, Seth Godin
explains in his 2010 release Linchpin that artists can
now own the means of production for their work with
only a couple of thousand dollars and produce and
publish content for anyone across the globe to find,
enjoy, share, and buy.
The Internet has practically no restrictions, and with
the rise of social media, people are talking about

anything 24/7 anywhere in the world. Hiko understands
that, and despite the fact that he enjoys engaging in
conversations with other musicians and other people
who enjoy his music online, he sees great potential to
have his work spread through the Internet.
“All set. Okay. I still like the drum programming I did
last week and the bass line I came up with. All I need
to do is to record the vocals and a couple of guitar
lines.” He tells himself, “Let’s rock this song—now!”
Hiko pushes record … ♪♫ Totemo sabishii, anata ni aitai
… ♪♫ Two hours later Hiko’s song is ready for
mixing and three hours later he’s already sent his song
to an online mastering studio that will have Inakute
Sabishii ready for upload to iTunes and other online
digital music stores within 24 hours.
“I can’t wait to play it with Junji and Yuki.” Hiko
writes a short blog post from his cell phone and
embeds the new song.
Ping—Yuki gets a push notification on her iPhone. “A
new blog post from Hiko.” She starts Hiko’s
application, puts on her earplugs and listens to his new
song. Yuki has been a fan of Hiko’s music since she
first saw him playing live, and after subscribing to his
Youtube, she just fell in love with his music.
“Are these drums programmed or did he play them
himself? Can’t really figure it out. And what a great
bass sound. That low C note has so much low-end!
Oh, Hiko, how much would I love to play this song
with you and Junji. I hope we can play it next time we

meet for practice.” Yuki is lost in her thoughts, when a
text message interrupts her dreaming. It’s Hiko. He
sent the message to both Yuki and Junji.
Hiko’s text says, “Hey guys, I just posted a new song
on my Youtube channel. If you like it we could play it
next time we get together for rehearsing.” The text
message application closes and Yuki falls back into
dreaming with Hiko’s soundtrack.

Episode 5
Hirakata at 4 AM

Peepeepeepeepeep—It’s 4 AM. Yuki’s Hello Kitty alarm

clock goes off. Like almost everyone in Japan, Yuki
sleeps on a futon on a tatami floor. In order for her not
to be late for work or for classes, she always puts her
alarm clock up high on a shelf, so that she actually has
to stand up and reach for the alarm clock on the shelf.
Especially, now that she’s got a part-time job where
she has to start working at 5 AM, being late or
oversleeping is absolutely no option.
Classes started last week and it has already been hard
for her to work almost every morning from 5 AM to 9
AM and then bike to the university to attend classes.
But that’s how she chose it to be. At the end of her
last year of high school, Yuki thought that just letting
her family finance her university studies or living off
student loans wasn’t the right thing to do.
Shortly before moving to Hirakata, she figured that
keeping herself busy and committed to a part-time job
would be like working out. She got that idea from a
young businessman, who spoke at her high school
graduation ceremony.
He said, “Sooner or later, all of you will have to work
hard on something that does not seem easy and that
does not reward you as much as you think it should
reward you, but if you stick to it you will recognize

that it was worth going all the way without giving up.
Once you commit to something or someone, believe
in it and learn your lessons while you go along. You
will grow with your commitment. And, the harder you
stick to your commitment, the stronger you will
That’s why Yuki sticks to a job that makes her get up
at 4 AM and pays her much less than what she could
earn while working evenings in a fancy cloths store.
She knows it’s not a permanent situation, but she has
to pay her dues and learn what it means to start from
scratch. Nevertheless, working early in the morning
will give her more time to practice by herself or with
bands in the afternoon and evening.
Yuki manages to finally get up and to turn off the
alarm clock. Her first thoughts today are, “Why the
hell do I have to get up this early? I’m a musician and
they don’t get up before noon. This part-time job at
Gusto is just terrible. I should write a song about my
life right now. I’m sure many people could relate to
this situation. Good thing I don’t have any interesting
classes today. I guess it’s gonna be okay to take a nap
after work in class.”
Yuki sees the Seth Godin book Linchpin next to her
futon and thinks, “Hm. I know I can choose to be the
person ‘writing the manual’, Seth, but until I get some
more sleep, I choose to be the person that ‘follows the
manual’. Only until I get some sleep.”

Yuki checks her cell phone for messages: 3 missed
calls from Maki. “Why did she try to call me in the
middle of the night? I wonder what’s the news.” Yuki
smiles and writes her back: I’ll be at work before class.
Tell me everything afterwards. See you at 9:10 in class.
Yuki picks up her bass, plays Hiko’s new song on her
cell phone, and plays along. Another smile appears on
her face. “I hope he didn’t write these lyrics while
thinking of Rena. She definitely doesn’t deserve it.”
After a couple of runs Yuki gets ready and leaves for
work on her bicycle, while listening to Inakute Sabishii
on her iPhone.
Peepeepeepeepeep—It’s 4:30 AM at Yutaro’s place in
Makino, a small suburb of Hirakata. “Turn it off. It’s
still dark outside,” says a female voice coming from
the same futon. Yutaro answers, “I always go jogging
very early in the morning. That puts me in the right
mood for practice before classes.” “What? You’re
crazy. Please let me sleep. Yuki always says that real
musicians do not get up before noon, and I would like
to achieve that.”
“For that you have to work a bit harder on your guitar
skills,” Yutaro jokes and covers her with a light
blanket. “I’ll try not to wake you up when I come back
from jogging. Sleep now.” She breathes deep and falls
back asleep. Yutaro gets ready for jogging, but one
thought bugs him, “I hope Yuki doesn’t mind me
sleeping with her best friend. But why should she?

She’s all over Hiko anyway.” Yutaro leaves the house
and Maki keeps sleeping his in futon.

Episode 6
The Yutaro/Hiko-Collaboration
Part 1

“Yuki, I’m here!” Maki shouts across the classroom.

Yuki walks all the way to the back of the room and sits
down next to Maki. “I’m glad you chose to sit in the
very last row. That way, I don’t need to feel bad if I
fall asleep. Kotaro-sensei won’t catch me sleeping back
here.” Yuki gets a notebook and a Hello Kitty pencil
from her bag.
“So, you had to work before class this morning?” Maki
asks. “Yap. I work five mornings a week,” Yuki
replies. “I figured that if I work early hours, I get paid
a bit more and I’ll have time for practice after classes.”
“But isn’t it hard to get up that early, work, and then
come to class?” Maki’s look reveals that she wouldn’t
like to do that. Yuki looks at Maki and puts on a
joking diva-like attitude, “A real rock star has to pay
her dues in order to prove her awesomeness to the
world.” Maki shouts, “You’re such a bitch! I want to
prove my awesomeness by rockin’ out on stage and
sleeping until noon.”
Professor Kotaro enters the room and asks for silence.
Yuki whispers, “By the way, did you listen to Hiko’s
new song? He posted it on his Youtube yesterday.”
Maki leans closer to Yuki and whispers back, “Sure I
did. It really rocks. Inakute Sabishii, I wonder if he
wrote the song for Rena?” Yuki feels jealous—again.

In a different classroom—Yutaro is scribbling in a
notebook, when someone pats him on the back.
“Class didn’t start yet. Don’t pretend to be all into this
international marketing stuff they teach us here.”
Yutaro looks up to Hiko, who has a grin on his face.
He takes a seat next to Yutaro. Yutaro replies, “I’m
actually very interested in marketing, since any kind of
industry is going through a fundamental change and
creative people can and should market their craft
through social media.” Yutaro doesn’t get why Hiko
still has a grin on his face.
“What are you so happy about?” Yutaro asks. Hiko
tells him, “Well, since you’re a social media change
agent, you might want to use my Youtube channel for
a case study. My new song on Youtube got more than
10,000 views overnight and was not even featured on
the Youtube homepage. I guess some people really
must have liked it and spread it around.” Yutaro does
not seem impressed.
“Huh. This isn’t the first time you got this many views
overnight, right? I remember, I checked out your
channel a while ago and saw that you had reached half
a million views on Youtube. I mean, you’ve been
connecting with all your subscribers and fans on a
regular basis for what now, a year?” Hiko rectifies,
“Actually, with this new channel, only for about three
months. But I was very lucky that about 30 percent of
my old subbers joined my new channel after the
Warner Music Group had my old Youtube channel
suspended, because of a copyright infringement claim,

which I still claim was unjust.” The WMG incident
obviously still upsets Hiko a lot.
Yutaro turns his usually serious face into a more
serene look. “Anyway. I listened to your new song and
I have to admit that I really like it. You might be onto
something here. I posted it on my Mixi and Facebook
pages and my friends seem to like it as well. Are you
going to sell it online?” Hiko nods. “I’ll have it
mastered by tonight and will upload it right away. But
it will still take three weeks until it’s approved by
iTunes.” “Just keep your fans updated with news and
maybe publish another song on Youtube, which will
be on the single. Something like a B-side, as they used
to call it when vinyl was still the standard,” Yutaro
“Thanks for the input, but unfortunately, I don’t have
another song ready yet that could match with Inakute
Sabishii.” Then Hiko has an idea. He asks Yutaro,
“Why don’t I cover one of your songs?” But Yutaro
has a better idea. “Or, why don’t we work on a new
song together? I have a bunch of songs that are ready
to be finalized.” Hiko seems sincerely excited about
Yutaro’s idea. Yutaro continues with the description
of this possible collaboration.
“We can make two different multi-window videos for
the song. One video features my parts in a larger
window, so that my subscribers can learn my parts on
their instruments—we’ll upload that video onto my
Youtube channel—and the other video features your
guitar work in a larger window for your subscribers to

enjoy and learn those lines from you. That way, you
might get new fans from my channel and some of
your subscribers might find their way onto my
channel. It’s a win-win situation, if we do it right.”
Yutaro and Hiko are both visibly excited about the
Yutaro asks Hiko, “Do you have time to work on the
song tonight? We can produce it as a remote
collaboration.” Hiko asks, “Why don’t we just go to a
studio together and record it there?” “Because I got
other things to take care of tonight, and I trust your
musicianship to make the song great even without me
having to teach you the song or oversee your work.”
Yutaro smiles. Hiko smiles back.
Yutaro goes on, “Great! I’m glad we’re doing this,
Hiko. I will have time this afternoon, after classes, to
finalize my parts and send you the link to the
Garageband file. I will upload it onto Mediafire. I
guess the size will be around 200 megabytes.” “And I
will then record my parts onto the same file and do
the mixing. It would be great if you could cut the
videos, though. Your video editing skills are just so
advanced and every video you make has that great
artistic touch,” Hiko adds. “Absolutely. As I said, I
won’t be around tonight, but I’ll get up very early
tomorrow morning and will finish the videos before
the 9 o’clock class. Okay?” Hiko replies, “No hurry
with the videos. First we have to have our song
approved by iTunes. After it’s in the iTunes store, we
will publish our videos on our respective Youtube

channels, linking the videos with our song on iTunes,
so that people can find it there and hopefully buy it, as
well as Inakute Sabishii, since they’ll be on the same
single.” “I see. We’ll wait for the right moment to
release the second song on Youtube. Sure. This is
going to be good,” Yutaro concludes.
The professor greets the class with a loud, “Good
morning class!” His thick American accent attracts
everyone’s attention. “Welcome to International
Marketing 201. Today, we will talk about ‘Social
Media’. Who can tell us what that is?” The professor
looks around. Hiko raises his hand. “Yes, please.” The
professor points to him.
Hiko clears his throut. “Social media is a virtual
meeting place, where everyone and everything can find
and be found, teach and learn, see and show, buy and
sell, speak and listen. Some claim it’s just a fad, many
others know it’s a new way of dialoguing without
boundaries—and it is here to stay.” Yutaro adds,
“Wikipedia and Youtube are best examples for how
the Wisdom of the Crowd works and for how important
social media has become for public relations and
The professor smiles and replies, “Glad to learn that
there are some Net Geners that do not only use social
media for entertainment, but also understand what it
actually is for.”

Episode 7
The Yutaro/Hiko-Collaboration
Part 2

Yutaro just finished recording the last line for the

collaboration song with Hiko. “This is going to be
good,” he tells himself. “Let’s get this file uploaded.”
Yutaro uploads the file to Mediafire and sends Hiko
the link via email. Hiko can download the music
project file by clicking on the link and keep working
on the song at his place.
Toktoktok—“Heeeeey there!” The door to Yutaro’s 1-
bedroom apartment opens. Maki slingshots her shoes
in a corner of the genkan, a little entryway every
Japanese house has. In Japan, it is custom to take off
one’s shoes before entering a house or an apartment.
“What are you doing?” Maki asks and jump-hugs
Yutaro from behind. “I just finished my parts for a
collab with Hiko. It’s going to be something like the
B-side of his new single.” Yutaro clicks play. A
thunderous slap bass makes his speakers jump. Maki is
impressed. “Araaa! Is that you playing the bass or is it
a Garageband loop?” Yutaro reacts with a smile.
“Seriously? When did you learn to play bass like that?
Why don’t you play bass in a band? Your skills are
Yutaro finally answers, “I have always played guitar in
bands and people know me for being a guitar player,

not a bass player. It would be too much of a hustle to
start over again and try to position myself as a bassist.
Still, I like playing bass, and on this recording no one
will ask about the bass player, because it’s about
Hiko’s guitar playing.”
Maki counters, “Please don’t get me wrong, but I
think your bass playing—at least on this song—is way
awesomer than your guitar work. You should
definitely make a tutorial video for this bass line on
your Youtube channel. I’m sure many viewers will
want to learn this line.” Yutaro starts realizing his
potential. “You think I’ll have a chance as a bass
player? But there are so many incredible bass players
out there, like Yuki.”
Yutaro shows his concerns about his bass playing, but
Maki reassures him, “You’re right. There are many
great bass players in the Kansai region, especially in
Osaka. Nevertheless, after listening to this raw mix, I’d
totally see you becoming one of the popular bassists
around here. And I’m not saying that just because I
sleep with you.” Maki shoots her typical closed-eyes
smile to cheer up Yutaro, which affects his mood and
makes him smile.
Yutaro takes her gently in his arms, while she sits on
his lap. “You are great, Maki. Can I hire you as my
motivational trainer and personal branding manager?”
“I’m not sure you can afford me,” Maki teases Yutaro.
“Why don’t I start by paying you like this…” Yutaro
kisses Maki, lifts her from his lap and lays her on the
tatami floor. “I like this kind of payment.” Maki turns

off the light with a remote control and starts
unbuttoning Yutaro’s shirt.
Hiko just downloaded the Garageband file that Yutaro
sent him via Mediafire and is amazed by the quality of
the production. “Wow, that bass line is crazy!” he tells
himself. Bzzzzz. Hiko checks the door.
“Yuki? What a nice surprise.” Yuki is clearly nervous.
“Sorry for stopping by unannounced. I just wanted to
ask you a few things about the songs for our next
rehearsal.” She’s just making it up. Hiko replies, “I’m
actually starting a recording session right now, which I
really have to complete today. Hm. Listen, I usually
don’t like having people here, since my place is rather
small, but if you’d like to help me out with the
production…” “I’d love to!” Yuki interrupts Hiko’s
sentence energetically.
She knows that Hiko doesn’t like having anyone over,
and because of that, she wants to get in before he
changes his mind. “Good. Come in.” Hiko is all set to
start recording. His guitars are tuned, his effect pedals
are plugged in, and the microphone is set to the right
Yuki observes, “So, this is where the magic happens.”
Hiko smiles. “That’s what we want to find out, right?
Just grab those headphones and make yourself
comfortable.” Both have their headphones on. Hiko
pushes play on Garageband. “What an amazing bass
line,” Yuki shouts. Hiko nods. “It’s Yutaro’s bass
line.” He explains their collaboration.

“I had no idea that Yutaro could play bass like this. I
thought he was just a guitar player.” Yuki is still
amazed by Yutaro’s production. Hiko explains, “We
used to play in a band together. That’s when he first
picked up the bass. Our bass player left because he got
signed by a touring band and we didn’t want to lose
time looking for a bassist. Hence, Yutaro decided to
play bass in our band. Unfortunately, we never had the
chance to play live, since I left the band as well shortly
after that. Then they blamed me for their split-up. I
thought Yutaro was still mad at me for that, but
apparently he’s over it, since he offered to collab with
me.” Hiko is immersed in thoughts.
Yuki asks, “Do you want to play this song with our
band, too?” “Sure! It has so much drive.” He
continues, “Honestly, I feel it’s going to be even more
popular than my last song.” A smile on Yuki’s face
makes Hiko smile as well. “What?” he asks. “Inakute
Sabishii is a truly beautiful song. It will be hard for you
guys to top its popularity.” Yuki really means it.
“Well, I try to top every song I make. And with
Yutaro contributing such great ideas, I’m very
confident that this could become a new milestone for
me. Also, tastes are different and what one person
likes, another person might not like, and that’s okay.
But it sure means a lot to me that you like my latest
song.” Yuki and Hiko look at each other for a few
“Okay, let’s do this!” Hiko interrupts the silence. They
put their headphones back on. One last smile towards

Yuki, and Hiko hits the recording button to record the
first track for the Yutaro/Hiko-collab.

Episode 8
Still rehearsing for the first gig

It’s a beautiful mid-October day in Hirakata. Leaves

are slowly turning red and the temperature is getting
milder day by day. Yuki, Hiko, and Junji have been
playing for two months as a band now and they grew
closer as a team. Their first official public performance
is scheduled for the Kansai Gaidai International
Festival, which will be held in the first week of
November, around the Bunka no Hi holiday, which is
known as Culture Day in English.
As the president of the music club, Yutaro organized
three performances for Hiko’s trio during the 4-day
festival. The band will be playing two 20-minute
shows in a university lounge that can hold an audience
of about 100 people. Every music club band is entitled
to play there twice. Additionally, Hiko, Junji, and Yuki
will have the opportunity to perform on an outdoor
stage, where all festival visitors can see and hear them
play. Not every band gets to do that.
Yuki is very excited about that. She hasn’t had the
chance to gather much live experience, especially in
front of large audiences. And playing on the outdoor
stage will give the band great exposure.
Back in the studio in Korien the trio is practicing. ♫
Youtubers unite against unholy obedience, we ain’t just the
crowd we are considerable deviance. With an iPod in our left

and a computer in our right, we create art with every single byte.
♫ “Yes, that’s exactly what this song should sound
like!” Junji dries the sweat from his face and adds from
behind the drum set, “Hiko, are we going to play the
Yutaro/Hiko-collab song at the festival?” Hiko replies,
“Sure. The single should be approved by iTunes any
day now. And besides playing for the love of music, I
would also like to use these festival gigs as a marketing
platform to promote the songs, if that’s okay with you
guys.” Yuki and Junji smile and nod.
Hiko’s cell phone rings. “Oh, I have to take this. Moshi
moshi?” “Hiko, it’s Genji Hatoyama. Am I interrupting
anything?” Hiko replies in a very humble voice,
“Hatoyama-san, no, no. I have time.” Mr. Hatoyama
goes on, “As you know from our concert schedule, we
will be playing a special performance at the Park Hyatt
Hotel in Tokyo on Monday after the Bunka no Hi
holiday, the second week of November. But because
our performances in the Kansai area have been very
successful in the past couple of months, a few other
places want to book the Genji Hatoyama Band for
Friday, Saturday and Sunday, before the Monday gig.
Just make sure you’ll be ready to leave for Tokyo one
day before the first performance. That means,
Thursday. Yokoyama-san will call you later to discuss
the details.”
Hiko realizes this means that he would miss the
International Festival and therefore, would have to
cancel the gigs with Yuki and Junji. “Sure. Thank you
for the information. I’ll see you next week for

rehearsal in Kyoto,” Hiko replies and suppresses his
disappointment. Mr. Hatoyama hangs up.
“What’s wrong?” Yuki asks. Hiko explains the
situation to his band and adds, “I don’t know if I ever
told you about my adhesion contract with the Genji
Hatoyama Band.” Junji nods, but Yuki looks puzzled.
“Basically, if they get booked and I cannot make it,
they look for another guitar player to replace me right
away and kick me out of the band. And since Osaka is
filled with great and available guitarists looking for a
good gig, they always find someone in no time.”
“What?” Yuki shouts. “Can they do that? Well,
obviously they can do whatever they want! Man, I’m
so upset.” Yuki is obviously distressed and in rage
about the situation. “Because of greedy businessmen
like them, youngsters like us can’t get anywhere!”
Rena enters the practice space and asks, “Hey guys,
how’s rehearsal going?” “YOU!!!” Yuki points to Rena
with a very upset look and approaches her showing
her clenched fist. Junji realizes that Yuki’s temper is
boiling over and rushes from behind his drums to hold
her back before she lays hands on Rena, who has no
clue what just happened. “It’s all your fault!!! We won’t
get to perform at the International Festival, because
Hiko has to play in Tokyo with your dad’s band.” Yuki
screams at Rena.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Rena runs out of the studio crying. Hiko puts down
his guitar and apologizes to his bandmates. “Guys, I’m

sorry to cause you all this trouble, but please, if you
want to blame this on anyone, blame it on me. I didn’t
think about what it meant to sign a contract with the
Genji Hatoyama Band. It’s solely my fault for not
thinking further than my wallet. I know, sometimes
Rena might seem arrogant, spoiled, self-centered, and
very proud of being the daughter of a celebrity, but
she is my girlfriend and we belong together.” Yuki is
still furious and Junji is still holding her.
“If you excuse me, I have to go after her.” Hiko walks
to the door and concludes, “By the way, I will leave
the band…” Yuki and Junji are baffled. “I mean, the
Genji Hatoyama Band.” Their gazes relax. “This
means, you guys better keep working on that rhythm
section, if we want to impress any potential bookers or
label guys at the Kansai Gaidai International Festival.”
Hiko winks and runs after Rena.
“Man, my heart almost stopped when he said that he
would leave the band. For a second I thought he
wanted to leave this band, his own band.” Junji shows
his relief and sits down on the studio floor. Yuki is in a
rollercoaster of emotions. She doesn’t know if she
should be happy about the fact that Hiko is leaving the
Genji Hatoyama Band or if she should be upset that
he doesn’t see how bad Rena is for him.
“Okay. Junji, pick up your sticks and let’s try that
collab song again—just drums and bass. Now that
Hiko has only this band that can make him a star, we
have to support him as much as we can.” Yuki’s

dedication motivates Junji. “You said it best, sis’…
Ichi, ni, san, shi!” And they rock the groove.

Episode 9
You canʼt have both

“Rena, are you okay?” Hiko asks his girlfriend. Rena is

standing outside the studio premises in Korien, crying.
“Why don’t your friends like me? Am I such a bad
person? I really tried to be nice to them, ever since you
started playing with them.” Hiko looks surprised.
“You haven’t really been nice to them. I remember, the
first time Junji, Yuki, and I jammed in this very studio,
you asked me why I would waste my time playing with
such amateurs, when I could practice with real
professionals such as your dad’s musicians. That
wasn’t very nice, but still, they never said anything
about you coming to all our rehearsals.”
Rena sighs. “Whatever. This band is over anyway.
Please let’s get your stuff and let’s leave.” Rena grabs
Hiko’s hand. He pulls her back and says in a harsh
voice, “Are you completely insane? This is my chance
to make it in this business. Junji and Yuki are such a
fantastic and dedicated rhythm section, and they
support me with all their passion. They believe that
our trio has what it takes to make it in Japan. What
will I have if I play with your dad? Some money from
the gigs, where my name is nowhere to be seen. Plus,
that music doesn’t push me to the limit. Strumming a
few chords isn’t what I aim for these days.”
Rena counters aggressively, “You know, you’re only 19
years old and you have absolutely not enough

experience to make it in the music business. Playing
with an established act will teach you the mean side of
the music biz, while being in a safe position. If
anything goes wrong for whatever reason, it’s not your
brand on stake, but the one from the guy that offers
you the job. Too many times, I’ve seen my dad being
depressed and taking hits from journalists and
promoters, because the concert hall was half-empty, or
because the event organizers simply thought the show
wasn’t good enough for the amount of money they
paid to the Genji Hatoyama Band. And my dad took
all the blame—not his musicians.” Tears fall from
Rena’s eyes.
“Rena, I’m sorry. I decided to do it my way and will
therefore leave your dad’s band. I mean, the contract
states that if I can’t make a concert, the management
will search for a replacement and I’m out. And I’m
fine with that. I want to make my own mistakes and
built my own brand, like your father did.” Rena’s tears
overflow her cute Japanese face.
“Congratulations!” Rena affirms, “You just made the
first major mistake in your rather short career as a
musician. You quit a great and secure job that could
have led the way to your very own record deal.” Rena
gets snappy. “Have a great life, Hiko. I’ll send you
your stuff by mail.” Rena turns around and walks
away. Hiko stands motionless in front of the studio
until Rena is out of sight. Then, one tear runs from his
right eye down his cheek all the way to his chin, where

it gathers all the salty water to a single teardrop and
slowly falls to the ground.
“Big fight?” Junji’s voice reverberates from the studio
hallway. Junji and Yuki are walking towards Hiko. He
nods his head. “It looks as if it’s over. Rena, the Ganji
Hatoyama Band… everything’s over. But that’s good,
right?” Hiko’s voice is initially trembling but gets very
solid with the next sentence. Sigh. “I guess it’s as
Rocky said, ‘It ain’t about how hard you hit, it is about
how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.’”
Hiko smiles while quoting that line from Sylvester
Stallone in Rocky 6. Junji laughs very loud. He puts his
arms around Hiko’s neck and drags him back to studio
“Hahaha! Glad to see you haven’t lost your sense of
humor yet, even though I have no clue why you would
quote Rocky. Anyway, let’s go back in and rock the
hell out of our instruments. Now that we are your only
band, we gotta work even harder, if we want to crack
the jackpot.”
Hiko and Yuki pick up their instruments. Junji takes a
seat behind the drum set and asks Yuki, “Miss Bass-
star, would you like to give us the honor and slap the
hell out of your bass for the intro of the collab song?”
Yuki hits the strings as hard as she can and the energy
swaps over to Junji and Hiko, who enter the song with
great oomph.
During the song, Yuki’s thoughts are completely
dedicated to the future of the band. She thinks, “Now

that Rena and her dad are out of Hiko’s life, he can set
the focus on this band and spend more time with us,
as he asked me to do when I joined. Fortunately,
everything turned out the way it was supposed to.”
After practice, Hiko congratulates his bandmates to a
very lively, even though emotional, rehearsal. “See you
tomorrow in class, Junji. I gotta go home and call
Hatoyama-san to tell him about my decision to leave
his band.” Junji replies, “You do that, and don’t forget
your Rocky-quote.” The three of them express
amusement. Hiko turns to Yuki, “Lunch at shokudou
(translation: cafeteria) tomorrow?” Yuki’s eyes
brighten up. She nods vividly. Hiko waves and leaves
shouting, Jaa!
Junji approaches Yuki and tells her in a rather fatherly
tone, “Listen, Yuki. I know you like Hiko. And if Hiko
and Rena really split up, I’m sure he will want to be
with you as well. Unfortunately, love relationships in
bands always end badly for everyone involved, and that
includes bandmates that are simply extras in the story,
like I am. As much as I want you guys to be happy
together as a couple, I see a huge potential for our
band here and I don’t want anyone and anything to
jeopardize that. Do you understand?”
Yuki gets nervous and wants to object, “But…” “No,
But!” Junji interrupts her and persists, “I am asking
you as a friend and for the sake of what we can
achieve with this band. This can only work, if we stick
to professionalism and don’t let intimate relationships
screw up our plans.” He gently holds Yuki’s shoulders.

“We are friends—the three of us—and we need that
friendship to lead our way. I’m begging you. Don’t
think only about yourself, but about all of us.” Yuki
hugs Junji and whispers while her head is resting on
his shoulder, “I promise, Junji. I won’t jeopardize what
we have. But please, keep reminding me.”

Episode 10
Friends with benefits

After the emotional rehearsal, when Rena broke up

with Hiko, and Hiko decided to leave the Genji
Hatoyama Band to focus on his own band with Yuki
and Junji, the trio devoted many hours of practice in
creating the best possible set for their performance at
the Kansai Gaidai International Festival. Junji worked
on more detailed arrangements, Yuki and Maki took
care of word-of-mouth marketing, handing out flyers
to students and to people at live music houses in
Osaka, and Hiko published Youtube videos every
other day with subliminal messages to promote their
forthcoming gigs in Hirakata to his subscribers.
«Come and rock out with us at Kansai Gaidai International
Festival in Hirakata», a video coming from Maki’s
iPhone says. “My friend Yuki will be playing a featured
gig on the outdoor stage on Saturday. You should
definitely not miss this. And while you’re at it, go to
this website and download their music. Believe me,
they’re awesome! I got all their music on my iPod.”
Maki hands a flyer to a bunch of students that are
forming a circle around her. “See you there!” She
smiles at them and leaves.
“How is my #1 promotion manager doing?” Yuki asks
Maki approaching her from the side. Maki turns
around with a grin, “If Yutaro and Hiko sell a
thousand MP3s online, it’s all because of me, and I

will want to see some royalties from that,” Maki says
with an acted Diva-like attitude.
“I don’t want to sound too cocky, but I think I’ll apply
for a promotion manager position at one of the major
record companies in Tokyo after I graduate from
here.” She sounds very confident and serious about
that. “What happened to becoming a rockstar? Did
you change your plans?” Yuki asks with a wink. “No,
that is still on the list. I will just take care of both,
music and promotion. I mean, isn’t that why we have
social media now, to take care of marketing ourselves?
Yutaro and Hiko are on track to prove that it can
work for unsigned artists to make it without a major
label.” Yuki asks Maki, “Why do you want to work for
a major label then, if you’d be able to make it to the
top without one?” Maki pauses for a few moments.
“Good question. I guess, because it will sound good in
my biography one day.” She starts a narrative of her
own biography:
«Before making it big, Makiko paid her dues in the hard reality
of the music business, working as a promotion manager for a
major record label. Her road was paved with many ups and
downs, but after realizing that she could make better decisions
than her boss, she left the company to take care of business
herself. And that's when she brought her band to their first
number one hit on the Oricon charts in Japan with no major
label backing her.»

“Bravo!” a male voice responds mockingly. Yuki and
Maki turn around and see Yutaro approaching with a
“Don’t make fun of me, mister!” Maki punches
Yutaro in the stomach. “Ouch! That hurt.” Yutaro is
still teasing her. Maki pretends to get mad. “Stop it,
Yutaro, or no sex for you tonight!” Yutaro blushes.
The ambience changes instantly. “What?” Yuki asks,
not believing what she just heard. “You’re joking,
right?” “I’m obviously joking.” Maki’s voice is
trembling. She is extremely nervous.
“You’re lying, Maki. I know you are.” Yuki gazes at
them and they both blush even more. It is now
obvious to Yuki that Maki and Yutaro have an
intimate relationship with each other. “So. Are you
guys a couple or are you just sleeping together?”
Yutaro turns to Maki and whispers, “Glad we
discussed this scenario.” Yutaro’s statement is
evidently ironic. Maki apologizes to Yutaro also
whispering, “I’m sorry! It just slipped out.” Yuki puts
on a smile.
“So, which one is it? A couple or just friends with
benefits?” Yuki can’t hold back her grin. Maki and
Yutaro decide to enter mute-mode and leave fast in
different directions. “Gotta go! See ya later, Yuki.”
Maki waves and walks away, fast.
Five minutes later, Yutaro enters the classroom and
takes a seat next to Hiko. “Hey Yutaro, ready for the
upcoming gigs at the festival?” Hiko asks. “I hope so.”

Yutaro is still upset over his bloopers with Maki.
“Something bugging you?” Hiko asks his friend. “Maki
told Yuki that we sleep together,” Yutaro replies. “You
guys are a couple?” Hiko shouts. “Shhhhh! Yes. No!
Maybe. Ah. I don’t know. When we decided to play in
the same band, everything became a bit more
complicated. We agreed that as long as we’re
bandmates, it would be better not to appear as a
couple. Our bandmates and other music club
members might get the wrong idea.”
“Hold on a sec. Does that mean you guys have been a
couple for a while already?” Hiko still looks very
surprised. “It doesn’t matter. Fact is that I like Maki,
but I’m not sure if engaging in an exclusive romantic
relationship with her would be good the future of our
band. First of all, our band is really picking up and
chances are that we can perform at some cool festivals
next spring. But if we fight, our band will suffer from
it. That’s why I’d rather be friends with benefits with
her and not a couple.” Yutaro leans back in his chair
and sighs.
“Do you really think that being friends with benefits
will keep your emotions checkmate? If else, it will
make you go even crazier. What if Maki goes out with
someone else, because you don’t want to be
exclusively hers?” Hiko shows concern for his friends.
Yutaro checks his phone to see if Maki sent him a
“I envy you and Yuki. So much attraction from one to
the other and you keep being only friends and keep

your relationship safe from any emotional hazard.”
Hiko leans back in his chair. “Believe me when I tell
you that it is incredibly hard. Every time we get
together for rehearsal, to go to a gig, have lunch,
dinner, whatsoever, I always fight with myself. I’m in a
constant dilemma. I want to take her in my arms and
give her all the love she deserves. But then something
inside of me tells me that it would be wrong now. Our
band is on the way to create something great and
emotional distress would tear it apart. I’m not sure
how Yuki feels about me, but I hope she doesn’t want
to be with me, because if I knew that she likes me as
much as I like her, I wouldn’t be able to resist.”
Yutaro pulls himself together and pats Hiko on the
back. “Listen my friend. If we ever fall into absolute
despair, we will just leave our respective bands and
create a band with you on guitar, me on bass, and Junji
on drums, and the girls can do the same with a female
drummer of their choice. That way, we can all be
together with whom we please and we won’t have to
care about emotional distress. What do you think?”
Yutaro’s face finally lightens up, but Hiko isn’t sure if
Yutaro really means what he just said or if he is merely
“I think time will tell how we’ll have to handle these
things.” Hiko’s phone lights up. It’s Yuki texting him,
Hey rockstar, don’t forget that we moved our
rehearsal from tomorrow to tonight. Can’t wait to
rock the studio with you tonight! Hiko smiles from ear
to ear.

Episode 11
The Kansai Gaidai International Festival
Part 1

Today is the first day of the Kansai Gaidai

International Festival, which will be held for the next
four days on the campus of the Kansai Gaidai
University in Hirakata. People from close and far
attend the festival. The festival aims to bring foreign
cultures, as well as Japanese culture, closer to its
visitors with dishes and cultural performances from
different countries by Japanese and International
students. The festival aims to bring Japanese and
foreign cultures closer to their visitors. Outdoor stands
sell anything from onigiri to tempura, from tacos to
Spaghetti Bolognese, or from American hotdogs to
Cevapcici. Indoors, classrooms got remodeled to
stages, where students can either perform a dance or a
play from a specific country, or simply present their
countries and languages to interested visitors. The
festival takes place every year and is always a big
“Guys, I think there are about 100 people crammed
into that small lounge, and they are waiting for us to
get on stage and rock!” Junji is jumping up and down.
He is visibly excited. Hiko and Yuki are tuning their
instruments in a classroom on the other side of the
hallway from the lounge, where they will be
performing in less than ten minutes.

“Are you ready, Yuki?” Hiko asks her with a smile.
“I’m very nervous. What was that change we made in
the third verse of Inakute Sabishii?” Yuki looks stressed
out. Hiko puts his hand on her shoulder. “Just forget
about that. Let’s go out there and just have fun. Our
audience came to have fun with us, not to judge if we
play well or if we suck. This is our very first gig in
front of a paying crowd. I consider this a warm-up gig,
which it is, considering the circumstances and the
preparation for the open-air gig on Saturday.”
Junji adds, “Forget about perfection and it will
happen. Simply be aware of our music as a team, and
feel the energy we transmit to each other. If you
happen to lose the groove, just listen to what I play
and you will find it in no time. And if you get lost in all
those notes you play, listen to Hiko and you’ll be back
on the right track.”
Then he gets philosophical, “As legendary bassist
Victor Wooten always says, music is a language, and if
you want to join a conversation, the first thing you
have to do is to listen and then you contribute your
message.” Junji stops for a few moments. “Well, he
puts it more eloquently, but you get my point.” Yuki
smiles and feels more comfortable now thanks to the
words of her bandmates.
Yutaro enters the backstage room. “Are you guys
ready to prove to your fans that you’re worth the 300
yen they paid to see you rock?” Yutaro can’t hide the
fact that he’s proud of having Yuki, Junji, and Hiko
opening the concert series of the university music club

he presides. Junji shouts, “Hell yeah! Let’s rock this
crowd.” He storms out of the room and jumps on
stage. Yutaro, Yuki, and Hiko can hear the crowd
screaming and clapping their hands.
“What a crazy guy,” Yutaro says with a smile. He turns
to the rest of the band. “Are you going to be playing
the collab-song as well?” Yutaro asks Hiko. “No, not
today. We’ll play it on the open-air stage on Saturday.”
Yutaro is disappointed, but doesn’t show it. “No
problem. I’m looking forward to hearing your version
in a couple of days then. You guys better go on stage
now, before Junji gets all the audience on his side and
leaves no fans for you.”
Hiko and Yuki nod and leave the backstage room.
Hiko makes his first step on stage and all hell breaks
loose. It sounds as if thousands of people would cheer
for a rockstar. Like when Ozzy enters the Budokan
stage on his Live at Budokan album. Shortly before
making her appearance on stage, Yuki takes one deep
breath and tells herself, “This is it. Nana, Billy
Sheehan, you know how Goku and Vegeta became
unbeatable in Dragonball. Let’s try that as well.
Fuuuuuusion!” And she enters the stage.
Hiko and Junji are ready and set to play the very first
note. The crowd has calmed down a bit by now, but
suspense is still building up. No one says a word.
Every one in the room is looking at Yuki setting up
her effect pedals and tuning her bass one last time.
The stage lights shine very bright and Yuki can’t really
see the audience. Junji told his bandmates before the

gig that there were about 100 people in the room, but
the audience is larger than that and it sure feels like
thousands came.
The energy is pumping up Yuki to an extent she has
never felt before. Finally. She is ready. Trivial thoughts
cross Yuki’s mind, “What do I have to do now? Do I
have to say anything, or, shall I count in? Man, these
stupid lights are way to bright.” Then, she remembers
the music video for Pearl Jam’s Even Flow song, where
Eddie Vedder yells at the light guy, because the lights
are too bright. She smiles and shouts to the light guys
in the back of the room with her loudest and rockiest
voice through her microphone, “Akira, Ken, turn
down these lights. This is not a TV studio, this is a
rock concert!” The lights dim right away. Yuki adds,
“Junji, count it in.” And Junji picks it up. 1, 2, 3, 4!
A bombastic and loud sound shoots from the PA. The
trio plays the intro to their first song and the crowd is
cheering and dancing. Yuki is doing exactly what Hiko
and Junji told her to do before the gig. Everything
happens naturally. Yuki is not thinking, she is just
enjoying and going with the flow. It has never felt
better and more natural. The audience is jumping up
and down with the beat of the song. Some even know
the lyrics and sing along with the band. These must be
Hiko’s Youtube fans. The trio gets more and more
confident with every note they play, and the crowd
gets more and more into it with every beat the band

Backstage, Yutaro is watching his friends planting the
first seed for their career as an active live band. “Are
you the manager of this band?” A man in an expensive
suit approaches Yutaro from the backstage room.
Yutaro replies, “No. Well, kind of. I’m the president
of the music club they belong to.” He is rather
confused and changes the subject quickly. “I’m sorry.
This room is reserved for the bands that perform here
today. I have to kindly ask you to leave.”
The man looks like a businessman and his attitude is
very professional. “I apologize for the intrusion. Allow
me to introduce myself. My name is Genji Hatoyama
and I am interested in singing the band that is playing
on your stage. Can I please have a word with you?”
Yutaro is completely confused and can’t believe what
just happened. “This is weird,” he thinks for himself.
Yutaro knows who Genji Hatoyama is and knows all
the details about Hiko’s fight with Rena and the
contract he had signed with the Genji Hatoyama
Band, but obviously Mr. Hatoyama doesn’t know who
Yutaro is. Many questions are spinning inside Yutaro’s
head. Why did Genji Hatoyama come to see Hiko’s
band perform. Why is he offering a deal to the band?
And more important, what kind of deal? And, wasn’t
the Genji Hatoyama Band supposed to play in Tokyo
this weekend?

Episode 12
The Kansai Gaidai International Festival
Part 2

A visibly nervous Yutaro asks Mr. Hatoyama, “Why

do you want to sign Hiko and his band, when you just
fired him from your band?” Loud music is blasting
from the lounge, where Junji is just about to give a
drum solo accompanied with bass and guitar
harmonies. “I couldn’t bear to see Hiko leaving the
band…” Yutaro interjects, “With all due respect,
Hatoyama-san, Hiko left because of your unfair
contract.” Mr. Hatoyama picks up where he got
interrupted. “As I was saying, I couldn’t bear to see
Hiko leaving the band. He is a great musician with lots
of potential to make it in this hard industry, and even
though he is not playing for me anymore, I’d like to
support him and his band financially, and by pulling
some strings.”
Yutaro realizes that he is talking to a music business
veteran that has been through highs and lows in his
music career and the trio could definitely benefit from
Mr. Hatoyama’s experience—and of course from his
business contacts. They both hear Hiko shouting
through the PA, “Hirakata, see you Saturday on the
open-air stage. Jaaa!” And the trio closes with a huge
Junji, Yuki, and Hiko rush offstage, while the audience
is still applauding and screaming. According to the

code of conduct made by the music club, encores are
not permitted, since every band only plays 20 minutes
and has to give 10 minutes set-up time to the next
band. Junji and Yuki pass by Yutaro and Mr.
Hatoyama and go to the backstage room with a very
genuine smile on their faces. Hiko is the last one to
come offstage and remains petrified by the look of the
last person he expects to meet there, his ex-boss and
“Hiko, that was a great show. I’m very proud of you.”
Mr. Hatoyama compliments Hiko and his band with a
strong voice for anyone lurking around the backstage
room to hear. “Hatoyama-san, thank you very much. I
appreciate your kind words. May I ask what you are
doing here? Aren’t you supposed to be performing in
Tokyo this weekend?” Hiko is not pleased. Yutaro
points to a little garden outside the premise. He leads
the way and opens the door for Mr. Hatoyama and
Hiko. The two of them continue their conversation in
the garden, where no one can hear what they are
talking about.
“Hiko, when you left our band…” Hiko corrects, “I
didn’t leave. You and your management fired me,
because of that infamous clause in your musician’s
contract.” Hiko’s temper starts boiling. Mr. Hatoyama
tries to calm him down with a heartily smile. “Hiko, I
always saw you as the next big guitarist in Japan. And I
even considered sending you to a music college abroad
for a couple of years, before producing a record under
your brand followed by a tour with your own band.

But when we parted, all of that was gone. It was
already hard not having you with us anymore, as a
member of the family, since you and Rena also split
up. I lost you completely. For that reason, I cancelled
the Tokyo gigs. I even had to pay a penalty fee to one
of the organizers, because I wanted to come and see
how you are doing and how far your band is. And I’m
really impressed by what I saw today.”
Hiko adds, “Just wait until Saturday. We’ll blow you
away.” Mr. Hatoyama laughs and claps his hands once.
“I am sure you will. Hahaha! Listen, I was talking to
your manager, or, president of this music club,”
“Yutaro? He is actually more something like my music
production partner. We’ve been producing songs for
Youtube together.” Hiko turns in a good mood when
thinking about his collaborations with Yutaro.
“Yes, that guy.” Mr. Hatoyama takes back the
conversation. “So, I was talking to Yutaro about
offering you and your band a management deal with
my agency. My people and I will take care of
promotion, booking, touring, and financing studio
time. All we want from you guys is commitment and
royalties.” Hiko laughs in disbelieve. “Why does it
always sound like you want to screw me over when we
talk about business?” Hiko gets offensive.
Mr. Hatoyama tries to stay calm and continues, “Well,
you know, in business communication classes they
teach that communication happens on the receiver’s
side. That means you might have perceived my
message in a way that I didn’t mean. I only mean

good, and I don’t want to have you out of my life.
Hiko, you are like the son I never had. Rena is a good
girl, but she is spoiled and will never be a musician.
And who knows what kind of guy she will end up with
one day. With you, I know what I got. Please, sign
with my agency and let me be your manager.”
Hiko is touched by the fact that Mr. Hatoyama is
literally begging him to sign a deal, but Hiko doesn’t
show it. Au contraire, Hiko says in a cold Wall Street-
like attitude, “Hatoyama-san, I have to decline your
offer.” Mr. Hatoyama’s eyes jump wide-open. “If you
really consider me as a part of your family and don’t
want to be cut out of my life, I am willing to be your
friend and meet up with you, jam, talk about the music
business, politics, or other things, but we don’t need to
be connected through business. Who knows, maybe
someday we’ll collaborate on a song? Honestly, I want
to make it with my band without having to involve a
label, outside financing, or whatsoever. We got the
Internet and things look very promising right now.
Yutaro is a great marketer and producer and we got all
the equipment we need to produce songs for online
music stores. We are quite confident that we can make
it our way. Actually, if you want, I can teach you how
to use social media to connect with your fans and
publish your music without having to give royalties to
a record company.” Mr. Hatoyama smiles, then the
door opens.
“Dad, I was looking for you everywhere,” a young
female voice says with an attitude. “Rena!” Hiko

shouts. His heart stops. “Hello Hiko.” Rena’s reply is
rather snippy. She commends, “Let’s go, daddy. I want
to go home.” “We’ll stay in touch, Hiko.” Mr.
Hatoyama puts his hand onto Hiko’s shoulder. “See
you this Saturday at the outdoor concert?” Hiko asks.
“Only if I can buy you a drink after your gig and you
tell me more about this online marketing stuff.” Mr.
Hatoyama walks after Rena.
“You did the right thing.” Yutaro’s voice sounds from
the other side of the garden. “How the hell did you get
up there?” Hiko asks. Yutaro jumps from a rock that
is almost two meters high. “I was waiting for you to
come back inside when I saw an open window that
brought me on top of this huge rock. And since in
some ways your future concerns me as well, I thought
it would be good to listen to your conversation.” “You
sneaky son of a gun,” Hiko jokes.
“As I said, you did the right thing,” Yutaro affirms,
again. “If Hatoyama-san wants to be your friend and
help you succeed in the music biz, he can. You left
him that door open.” Hiko picks up, “And we don’t
need no manager. We got you. A great producer, event
organizer, and friend.” “But don’t get too used to that.
Sooner or later I won’t have time to do this for both
your band and my band.” Yutaro smiles. Hiko smiles
back. “Then we’ll leave our respective bands and start
our own band, where it’s only about us boys.” They
both laugh out loud. “I see, you really listen to me.”
Yutaro is surprised that Hiko still remembers his
statement from last week in class.

“What are you guys doing out here, where no one can
find you? Are you hiding from anyone?” Maki puts a
rock in front of the door to keep it open. “Kick-ass
performance, Hiko. You can really shred, but you
know that. Are you coming to watch us rock the stage
tomorrow?” Hiko nods. “You guys take care. I gotta
look after my band. Want to congratulate them.” Hiko
waves and leaves.
“What was that about?” Maki asks Yutaro. “Nothing.
We were just talking, and Rena’s dad offered them a
management deal or something like that, but Hiko
declined.” Maki shouts, “What? Why does that never
happen to me?” Yutaro comforts her, “You don’t
need that. Wait for your brand to grow and then you’ll
be able to have the contract on your terms. But until
then, you gotta work with social media and the power
of the Internet. Just trust me on this one.” Maki smiles
and hugs Yutaro saying, “You really make it hard for
me not to like you as much as I would like to.” And
they kiss.

Episode 13
A new band is born

The Kansai Gaidai International Festival is over and it

was a great success for Yutaro’s music club, especially
because of Hiko, Yuki, and Junji’s performances in the
lounge and on the open-air stage. Sales for the
Hiko/Yutaro-collab on iTunes have surged since the
trio’s performance at the festival. Hundreds of people
downloaded the song onto their cell phones right away
during the concert and tweeted pictures and videos for
thousands of interneters, who could not attend, to enjoy.
Hiko’s and Yutaro’s Youtube channels registered
hundreds of new subscribers in the week after the
festival, and many asked for more Hiko/Yutaro-
At the Miki Gakki music store in Shinsaibashi, one of
the shopping districts of Osaka, Yuki and Maki are
trying out some new guitars and basses. “You know,
I’m really happy for Hiko and Yutaro that their music
is generating all this buzz, but sometimes I wish they
would include us more into their songwriting. I feel as
if the two of them are a band and we are just
supplements.” Yuki is walking her way through a 5-
string bass neck. “I know what you mean,” Maki
acknowledges. “But they are a great team, and even if
both our bands end up playing pretty much the same
songs, those songs are great and people like them a

Yuki confesses, “I know, I know. I guess, sometimes
I’m just jealous of Yutaro.” Yuki plucks the strings
harder now. Maki frowns, “Why are you jealous of
Yutaro? If, then you should be jealous of Hiko, or am
I missing something here?” Yuki explains, “I’m jealous
of Yutaro because he gets to spend so much time with
Hiko and they share ideas, credits, and fans. I am just
Hiko’s bass player and singer. Something like a
sidekick.” That obviously bothers Yuki.
“Why don’t they just start their own band and let us
be. At least if it was like that, I could tell him how
much I long for him, and this whole band thing would
not stand in our way.” Maki puts down the guitar she’s
been holding in her hands for 20 minutes and sits
down next to Yuki. “Yuki-chan, I know exactly how
you feel. Do you think it’s easy for me to play in a
band with Yutaro and not being able to show him my
love when others are around? I hate that, but that’s
how it has to be for now. The day will come when
Yutaro will leave our band and Hiko will leave your
band to team up and start ‘their’ band. And then we
will be able to be with them, for good. Unfortunately,
we will then not be part of a great band and we will
have to start over.” Maki’s eyes start getting glassy.
Yuki engages in a hard one-bar T.M. Stevens-like slap-
attack and tells Maki, “I’m sick and tired of this! Maki,
let’s leave our bands and start our own band.” Maki
can’t believe Yuki’s words. “Are you out of your
mind?” she asks Yuki. “Not at all. Can’t you see it?
Ever since they published their first collab on Youtube

it has been about the two of them, not their respective
bands. And if they can’t see it, we have to make them
realize what’s happening here. What’s the worst that
could happen? That they won’t get along? They are
already a band on the Internet, and sooner or later
they will form a band offline as well. We are just
standing in their way. Hiko plays guitar, Yutaro plays
bass, and Junji plays the drums. And all of them can
sing. Problem solved.” Yuki has figured it all out.
“And what about us?” Maki asks. “We start our own
trio. We take everything we’ve learned from the guys
and make it better.” Yuki winks. “But we have no
drummer.” Maki walks to the classified ads on the wall
of the music store. “Don’t worry about that. We’ll find
a drummer in no time.” Maki turns to Yuki. “Okay,
Yuki-chan. I’m in. How shall we tell the boys without
making them mad?” Yuki puts on a mean smile.
“Maki-chan, do you feel like jamming and recording
something right here, right now? We could then post it
right away onto my Youtube channel—which, btw, is
in desperate need of a new video!” Maki starts
jumping on the spot and shouts, “That’s going to be
Yuki asks one of the clerks if she could film them with
her iPhone, while jamming. They grab a couple of
instruments and start playing a 90’s rock tune. ♫ I wish
that I could fly, into the sky, so very high, just like a dragonfly
… I want to get away, I want to fly away! ♫ The jam
attracts basically every customer that is in the guitar

section. Many sing along and the clerk catches the
whole thing on Yuki’s iPhone.
A customer approaches the store manager, who is
enjoying this unexpected customer-generated show
from the back of the room, “Those two girls are
fantastic. Do they work for you?” The store manger
replies, “Unfortunately not. But they are our loyal
customers.” The customer suggests, “You should have
them perform here with their band.” “I will definitely
talk to them about that.”
The girls are creating a great atmosphere at Miki Gakki
and the store manager is very impressed. More
customers are entering the store to take a glimpse and
enjoy the positive atmosphere. The jam comes to an
end and the customers applaud the duo. Maki and
Yuki look around and can’t believe what just
happened. “Arigatou gozaimasu!” Yuki turns to Maki
and whispers, “See? I told you we could pull this off.”
The clerk approaches Yuki and gives her back the
iPhone she used to tape the performance. “You
should publish this onto Youtube,” she suggests. “I
will,” Yuki replies and edits the video with iMovie
right on the spot. Then, she uploads it directly onto
her Youtube channel. After a few minutes it’s up and
she’s spreading it through different social networking
websites and asks her friends on Mixi and Facebook to
do the same.
“Ready to hit the road?” Yuki asks Maki, when the
clerk that taped the video stops them and approaches

them very humbly. “You girls were amazing. Are you a
band?” Maki and Yuki look at each other and nod at
the same time. “Yes, we are!” The clerk continues,
“Do you have gigs planned or a website where I can
listen to more of your music?” Yuki replies, “Actually,
we just started playing together. We just split from our
bands and are now looking for a drummer.”
“Seriously? Coz you sounded as if you’ve been playing
together forever. And, by the way, I’m a drummer in
search for a band.”
Yuki asks the girl, “How long have you been playing
the drums?” The girl answers, “I’ve been playing since
I was 8 years old.” “And do you have live experience?”
“My mom was a professional musician and always let
me fool around on her drumset when I was little. I
played many concerts through junior high and high
school, but when I started university last year I
stopped playing and focused on my studies. But
watching you girls playing and spreading all that
positive energy rocked my internal groove. I’d love to
audition for you.”
Maki looks at Yuki. “Then we need to set up an
audition. And since we have no time to lose, we’d like
to meet you as soon as possible. How’s tomorrow for
you?” Maki asks. “I’m free tomorrow afternoon,” the
clerk answers. “We’ll organize the studio in
Amerikamura and will let you know exactly where and
when to meet, okay?” Maki sounds very professional.
“By the way, my name is Yumi.” Yumi bows. “I’m
Maki, and this is Yuki.” They all shout, Hajimemashite!

and they all bow. After exchanging their cell phone
email addresses, Maki and Yuki leave Miki Gakki.
“What do you think, are we making a mistake?” Maki
asks Yuki. “Not at all. I’ve got a good feeling that
Yumi is the perfect match for our band.” Maki
affirms, “I feel the same way. I sure hope Yutaro,
Hiko, and Junji won’t be too mad at us.
Yutaro and Hiko are taking a break from working on
different remote collaborations. “Check this out!”
Yutaro tells Hiko over Skype and sends him a link to a
Youtube video. “That’s Maki and Yuki jamming.”
Hiko replies and recognizes that they sound great
“Did you read the description of the video?” Yutaro
points out. Hiko starts reading aloud; «Our first
unrehearsed and unofficial band performance. More girl rock
music coming soon.» Then he gets loud “Are you kidding
me, they started their own band?” Yutaro calms him
down, “Hey, take it easy. You had a second band as
well in the beginning. And if it weren’t for Hatoyama-
san’s grotesque contracts you would still have two
bands. And FYI, we are a band as well.” “But only in
the virtual world. We don’t spend time rehearsing and
playing gigs,” Hiko justifies their band status. “Maybe
we should, though.” Yutaro means it.

Episode 14

In a studio in Amerikamura, a retail and entertainment

area in the Minami district of Osaka, Yuki and Maki
are auditioning Yumi, a drummer whom they met the
day before at Miki Gakki, a music shop in Osaka. They
are overwhelmed with Yumi’s drumming and singing
skills. The trio is rocking songs by Lenny Kravitz,
Ayumi Hamasaki, Radwimps, and other artists.
“Yumi, how come no professional band has signed
you yet?” Maki asks. Yumi blushes and answers shyly.
“I don’t know. Maybe because they didn’t think I was
cool enough for them?” “Seriously, I think you are ʻcool
enoughʼ and a great musician, and I would like you to
join our band. What do you say?” Yuki asks with a
serious face. Yumi nods fast. “Sure! I like the same
music you like to play and I feel very comfortable
around you girls.” Maki and Yuki look at each other,
smile, and scream, “We found ourselves a drummer!!”
Yumi laughs and claps her sticks.
“Do you have a name for the band?” The girls are
caught off guard. “Not really,” Maki admits. Yumi
suggests, “What about The November Sun? It’s
November, the sun is shining outside and I think it
matches the mood of your music.” The three of them
hold on still for a few moments. “We are The November
Sun.” Maki mumbles softly. Yuki smiles and shouts,

“We are The November Sun —Woohoo!!!” The three girls
scream from the top of their lungs and they start
jamming to what is going to be their first original song
as The November Sun.
After the jam, Yumi and Maki have to go to their
respective part-time jobs and Yuki gets on the Keihan
train to Hirakata, when she runs into Hiko at
Yodoyabashi station.
“Hey Yuki! Good to see you. Haven’t seen you at all
this week.” Hiko is visibly happy to see Yuki, but he
can feel that she is a bit tense and somehow distant.
“Hi Hiko. Yeah, I was busy these past few days. I
apologize for not having had much time to talk or chat
online.” “Yeah, I saw your video with Maki at Miki
Gakki.” He smiles. “That looked like big fun.” Yuki is
embarrassed. “Yeah, it was fun.”
“So, did you girls start a band?” Hiko asks. Yuki
doesn’t know what to answer. After a few moments
she gathers all her courage and tells Hiko exactly how
she feels about the entire situation. “Hiko, I’m sorry if
this comes unexpected, but I think I have to leave
your band.” The conversation mutes. After a while
Yuki continues, “I know it’s not fair from my part,
especially since you could have gotten any bass player
and singer you wanted for your band. And after our
great gigs at the Kansai Gaidai International Festival
we got so many contacts and opportunities to play live
clubs and summer festivals and now you’ll have to

audition a new bassist and teach him or her all details.”
Hiko’s face shows no emotions.
Yuki goes on with her explanation, “Please, don’t get
me wrong. It’s not that I don’t like to play with you
and Junji. Actually, it’s very much the opposite. I’d
love you to include me more into songwriting,
marketing, and band life in general. You spend all your
free time with Yutaro producing songs and I feel you
guys are the band and I’m just a sidekick.” Tears fall
from Yuki’s eyes.
“Yuki, I’m sorry you feel that way. But I don’t think
I’m doing anything wrong here. You participate in the
arrangements, you give your own touch to the songs,
and without you our band is not the same. You are an
indispensable part of the band.” Yuki dries her tears
with her sleeves. “I know you’re not doing anything
wrong. You are doing the right thing for the band.
Yutaro and you together can write the greatest songs
and view-counts on your individual Youtube channels
are proof enough.”
Yuki sighs. “Maybe the problem is that I’m in love
with you.” There, she said it.
The Keihan train enters the station. Passengers get off
and it gets busy on the tracks. Yuki’s words still buzz
in Hiko’s ears. ‘Maybe the problem is that Iʼm in love with
you.ʼ “How can that be a problem?” Hiko asks himself
and gets the answer from Yuki.
“When we play music and you smile at me, when I
sing a line and you add a harmony to it, or when you

send me a message and tell me that you’re looking
forward to seeing me at practice, in class, or at the bar,
all I can think of is that it is not right for us to be
together, because it would jeopardize the future of our
band. I hate that bittersweet emotion. I want to be
with you. And if it means that I have to leave the
band, so be it. You and Yutaro are a band in any case.
People ask for your music, not ours. I guess that is the
only right thing to do then.”
The train for Hirakata leaves without them. Hiko is
speechless. Nobody is around anymore. They stand
next to each other facing the same direction. Hiko
turns to Yuki and moves closer to her. He wipes her
tears with a soft handkerchief, caresses her left cheek
with his thumb… and kisses her. Time stands still. At
least that’s what it feels like for Yuki. As unexpected as
her leaving the band might have been for Hiko, this
kiss is for her.
The next Keihan train for Hirakata is arriving at
Yodoyabashi station. “Shall we get onto this one?”
Hiko asks with a very soft and caring voice. Yuki
smiles and they get on the train. Yuki and Hiko sit
next to each other and Yuki puts her head on Hiko’s
shoulder. The doors close and the train leaves for

Episode 15
Makiʼs song

Peepeepeepeepeep. It’s 4:12 AM and Yuki’s alarm clock is

peeping her way to Yuki’s ears. It takes Yuki only four
peeps to get off her futon and turn off the alarm. She
is smiling and the day has not even started yet. After
yesterday’s encounter with Hiko at Yodoyabashi
station, she spent the hours walking around Hirakata
and the Katahoko Library with him talking about their
feelings and how to deal with the band split-up and
their romantic situation. They decided to grow into the
situation together without rushing anything. The next
important step would be for Hiko to talk to Yutaro
about joining forces and finally start playing live
concerts with their Youtube band.
Yuki checks her iPhone for messages. «Told Yutaro that
I’m leaving the band and he didn’t take it very well. Please text
me when you’re off work», Maki texted her. “That doesn’t
sound good,” Yuki thinks aloud and starts typing on
her phone.
For the next four hours at Gusto, Yuki serves coffee,
tea, and cake to business people, taxi drivers and
others that get up early for work or are on their way
home from a night shift. She usually doesn’t like her
job, because most people don’t treat her with respect
and are not thankful for being served, but today it’s
different. Yuki’s smile is able to touch most of her
customers. They smile back at her and thank Yuki for

her kindness. “What happened to you? You seem
extremely fulfilled and happy,” a colleague asks Yuki.
She shrugs. “I guess that’s what they call love.”
Knock knock knock. “Yutaro! Are you up?” Maki knocks
on Yutaro’s door at 5 AM. Nobody is there. “He must
be jogging,” she assumes and sits down on a bench
next to a rice field in front of the apartment house.
One hour passes and still no trace of Yutaro. Maki
knocks on his door again, calls his cell phone, texts
him, but no response. “Was I really that wrong to
leave the band? All I want is for him to succeed and to
be with him, even if it means to sacrifice our band.”
Maki’s thoughts bring tears to her eyes. She sits back
on the bench and starts writing from her cell phone
onto her blog…
Sugoku suki
(I’m crazy about you)
Anata no koto zembu shiritai
(I want to know all about you)
Atashi wa anata no, anata wa atashi no mono
(I’m yours, you’re mine)
Kissu shite mo ii, hazukashi garanaide
(May I kiss you? Don’t be shy)
Me wo tojite, shimpai shinaide
(Close your eyes and don’t worry)
…and texts Yutaro the link adding, I’m too shy to tell
you this that is why I will post it on my blog. Hit or
miss, I just want to tell you this. Please comment my
post and tell me what you like the most. I really mean

everything I said and wrote. Forever yours. Maki packs
her stuff and leaves with tears in her eyes.
“Hey, Yutaro. Wake up. We gotta get ready for class.”
Hiko says in a loud voice to Yutaro, who fell asleep on
the floor at Hiko’s place. “How do you feel this
morning,” Hiko asks his still-sleepy guest. Yutaro rubs
his eyes and answers, “Not sure yet.” “Are you going
to talk to Maki again today?” Hiko seems concerned
about his two friends. Yutaro checks his cell phone
and finds Maki’s note and blog post. He smiles. “I
think I’ll have to clear things up with her.” Then he
slightly changes the subject. “You know, I wasn’t
planning on joining your band, Hiko. Working on
Youtube is one thing, but starting a band for gigs and
stuff is a whole other dimension.” Hiko nods a couple
of times. “I know. But you have to admit, that we
talked about this a few times. And, you came up with
the idea before anyone else. So, I ask you, Don’t you
think this was supposed to happen sooner or later?”
Yutaro gets off the floor and stretches his body.
“Yeah, you’re probably right. The more I think about
it, the more the girls are right. But how can two alpha
males like us work together in an actual band setting?”
Hiko puts his bass in Yutaro’s hands, reaches for his
guitar. “As we’ve been doing for the past couple of
months. Like this.” He pushes play on his drum
machine, hits the strings and invites Yutaro to join
him for an early-morning jam.
Later in the afternoon Yuki, Yumi, and Maki meet for
a spontaneous practice in the same studio they met the

day before in Amerikamura. “Maki-chan, why haven’t
you returned any of my calls today?” a worried Yuki
asks. “I’m really sorry, Yuki, but I just didn’t feel like
talking to anyone and felt more comfortable texting
you. Hope you’re not too mad.” “I understand that.
Sometimes I’m too shy to talk on the phone and
rather send an email,” Yumi adds. Yuki seems a bit
annoyed. “So, why did you want to get together for
practice today? We didn’t prepare much since
yesterday. And by the way, you still didn’t tell us what
exactly happened with Yutaro yesterday. Hiko just told
me that you fought that they didn’t decide if they
wanted to work together as a live band or just keep it
as an online project.”
Maki bows and apologizes, “First things first.” Maki
reaches for her phone and plays a demo of a song.
“Wow, that is beautiful and rough at the same time.”
Yumi’s body starts whipping to the beat. “Maki-chan,
I didn't know you knew how to produce songs.”
Maki’s new found talent surprises Yuki. “I didn’t know
myself. After I couldn’t find Yutaro at his place this
morning, I decided to skip classes and write this song.
Fortunately, there are thousands of How-To websites
and Youtube videos that teach how to produce songs
on Garageband. So I made this and would like you
girls to add your parts to it. Now that we are a band, I
would like to act as a band and create music with you.
Let’s not make the same mistake as Yutaro and Hiko.”
“I’m in!” Yumi shouts. “Sure as hell that I want to add
my lines to your song.” Yuki gets her Electro Voice

Raven microphone from her bag. Maki is moved and
screams, “Let’s get this party started!” and the trio is
pumped to create their first original song as The
November Sun.
Because Maki didn’t return Yutaro’s calls, he decided
to go after her. Fortunately, he detected some tweets
and foursquare posts that pointed to the right music
studio in Amerikamura.
At the studio Yutaro approaches the clerk at the front
desk, “I’m supposed to meet my friends here, a band
with a girl on guitar and girl on bass, but I don’t know
in which studio.” The clerk tells him to check studio
D. Yutaro walks up to studio D and has no idea what
to say to Maki. Then, he hears a beautiful and rough
song blasting from the PA inside the studio. He
recognizes the lyrics right away. It’s the words Maki
wrote on her blog for Yutaro embellished with music.
He looks through the little window in the door and
sees three girls jumping and dancing around to the
song that is playing from Maki’s MacBook through
large speakers. Yutaro smiles. “Hm. This is how it’s
supposed to be,” Yutaro realizes.

Episode 16
Maki & Yutaro

It’s the last week of November and stores in Japan are

starting to put up Christmas decorations. Maki, Yuki,
and Yumi are rushing through the new music releases
section at Tsutaya in Namba after practice, when Maki
asks her friends, “Why does every popular artist have
to release a Christmas song or even an album?” Yuki
answers while checking out the new Ayumi Hamasaki
album, “You gotta monetize where you can and take
advantage of holiday seasons. I mean, why do
American film studios bring out Christmas movies on
Christmas, or Valentine’s Day movies on Valentine’s
Yumi jumps in before Yuki can answer her own
question, “Because it wouldn’t make sense to release a
Christmas movie in July.” Yuki goes on, “Thank you,
Yumi. They want to make the most out of the
emotions that are floating around during that exact
time. And, if you take a look at American sitcoms or
soap operas you’ll realize that they do the same with
basically every holiday. Christmas, Valentine’s Day,
Halloween, that turkey holiday…” “You mean,
Thanksgiving,” Maki corrects. “Yes, Thanksgiving.
Thank you, Maki.” Yuki laughs at her own faux pas.
Yumi adds, “I guess we should also play some
Christmas songs then.” Maki and Yuki look at her in

“What did I say wrong?” Yumi asks with an
embarrassed look on her face. “We’ve only published
one original song on Youtube and have not
established our band as a rock band yet. I don’t think
that releasing Christmas songs before releasing an
actually album, or at least an EP, with originals would
help our brand.” Yuki seems gridlocked in her
Maki contributes, “But maybe we could just grab our
acoustic instruments and play a few Christmas songs
at Hirakata station, in Umeda, and at Gaidai. Just so
people know that we actually exist as a band. And we
can hand out flyers to promote our Youtube channel.”
Yuki agrees and adds. “If we play our own songs—
and we don’t have many of them—people might not
stop on the street and listen to us. But if we play
Christmas songs now, it is more likely that they stop
and check us out. And if we can make a couple of
good videos from our performances and publish them
onto Youtube, we might even attract people that
wouldn’t find our channel in the first place.”
Yuki reflects for a few moments. “You girls discussed
this behind my back, didn’t you? Ah. You know what?
It doesn’t even matter, because you’re right and I
actually like the idea. We should do that. But you girls
better get me an acoustic bass for those performance.”
Maki is visibly excited. “Don’t worry, I already put
together a great set list and worked out the perfect
arrangements for the songs.” Yumi smiles from ear to
ear and claps her hands in a typical Japanese way.

It’s past 9 AM and the first classes of the day at Kansai
Gaidai University already started. Maki is rushing to
the wrong classroom. “Ain’t you supposed to go to
building 2 for your class?” a male voice asks Maki. She
turns around and recognizes Yutaro sitting at a table in
the hallway of building 1. “I’m not sure.” Yutaro surfs
his iPad to check today’s class schedules. “You got
International Logistics now, right? Room 212. That
means, building 2, first floor.” “Thank you.” She walks
towards Yutaro and sits down next to him.
“Yutaro, I’m sorry I didn’t return any of your calls this
past week. And I’m sorry I didn’t want to see you. I
was just very hurt because of your reaction after I told
you I would leave the band.” Silence fills the hallway.
After a while, Yutaro replies in a very calm voice,
“And I apologize for having reacted like that. It felt as
if you didn’t want to be with me anymore, even
though we were never officially a couple. It felt as if I
was losing you.” Tear fall from Maki’s eyes. “I know,
Yutaro. Hiko told me everything.”
Yutaro confesses, “And when I saw you girls dancing
and singing to your new song at the studio in
Amerikamura last week, I knew I was wrong.” He
asks, “By the way, how do you like my cover of your
song?” Maki smiles and wipes her tears. “I like it a lot.
Thank you very much, and thank you for asking that
ukulele player to make a ukulele cover of the song. We
got quite some traffic on our Youtube channel thanks
to you guys.” They both smile and Yutaro puts his left

arm around Maki. She rests her head on his shoulder
for a minute, which feels like forever.
“Why don’t you go to class now and meet me after
school, so you can tell me everything I missed out on
this past week?” Yutaro suggests. Students start to fill
the hallway before the bell for the next class rings. “I’d
really like that.” Maki gets up and looks around. Many
of her friends and members from the music club are
around. She bents towards Yutaro and leaves a kiss on
his right cheek. “I’ll see you later.” Maki smiles. Yutaro
holds her back and kisses Maki on her lips. “Looking
forward to it.” Maki and Yutaro know that everything
will be okay, at least for the moment.

Episode 17
Rockinʼ around the Christmas tree
with a ukulele

“What’s that red hat you’re wearing?” Yuki asks Yumi

in a rather harsh tone, while waiting for Maki in the
lounge of Kansai Gaidai’s gym. “Well, since today is
December 6, I decided to wear this to celebrate Santa
Clause Day,” Yumi answers. “Santa Claus Day? Are
you just making it up or is there really a Santa Claus
Day?” Yuki looks doubtful. Yumi smiles and teaches
Yuki after starting a browser on her cell phone, “Let
me see. Ah, here we have it. According to Wikipedia,
«Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas and a
bunch of other names, is a figure who, in many
Western cultures, brings gifts to the homes of the
good children during the late evening and overnight
hours of Christmas Eve, December 24 or on his Feast
Day, December 6.» And that is Saint Nicholas Day.
See?” Yuki nods. “I see.” “And that’s why I am
wearing this hat today. Besides, it’s nice to spread the
spirit of Christmas also visually.”
Yumi seems excited about this Christmas season.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m not really into Christmas. You girls
seemed so excited about playing these Christmas gigs
that I didn’t want to spoil your enthusiasm.” Yuki is
setting up her Ampeg micro stack and Maki’s Marshall
mini stack to practice their Christmas set, which they
will premier on the circle stage at Kansai Gaidai

tonight. “Yumi, that is a great hat!” Maki compliments
her friend. Her energized mood spills over to Yumi,
whose hands start clapping and feet start jumping.
“Here you are your acoustic bass for the Christmas
gigs.” Maki hands over a small and light case to Yuki.
The case looks as if it would only fit a violin in it,
certainly no bass guitar. Yuki frowns, “Is this a bass
assembly kit? Where the hell is my acoustic bass?”
Yumi and Maki laugh. “Open it!” Yumi orders. Yuki
puts the little case on a table. She opens it and finds a
baritone ukulele equipped with extremely thick gummy
chords. “You gotta be kidding me!” Yuki is not
pleased with what she sees. She takes the ukulele/bass
out of the case and tries to play it.
“This is no bass. It’s acoustic but definitely no bass.”
Yumi teaches Yuki about the UBass, “It’s a fretless
Kala UBass. It’s a very short-scale bass in a baritone
ukulele mahogany body with black polyurethane
strings. The tension is very low, I have to admit, but
once you plug it in and find out how best to play it,
you’ll love it—I promise. There are different artists on
Youtube promoting the UBass with acoustic music, so
Maki and I thought, it would be great for you to try it
during these Christmas concerts. Please, just give it a
shot, okay?”
Yuki sighs. She picks up a cable and sits down on a
stool next to her micro cabinet. She plugs in the UBass
and turns up the volume to 5. Pluck. Mmmwoaw~~~.
The Ubass sings like a bird! Yuki is amazed by the

colorful sound she is bringing out of her tiny acoustic
“Oh my God, this instrument is amazing!” she admits.
Yumi and Maki watch Yuki playing fantastic fretless-
style bass lines on her newfound love and hurry to get
ready to jump in and jam with her. They jam to all
Christmas songs they will be playing later on tonight,
just to get a feel for the arrangements and for the mini
instruments they will be using for the set.
“So, will you be playing that ukulele tonight as well?”
Yuki asks Maki. “Oh yes. I’m very much looking
forward to it.” “But tell me something. What’s the deal
with this ukulele or small instruments hype anyway?
Did the recession hit musicians so hard that they can’t
afford real instruments anymore?” Yuki asks with a
Yumi explains, “That is one possible answer. I think
that in the past few years—especially thanks to
Youtube—a bunch of very creative musicians brought
the ukulele closer to the masses and it finally found its
way to popular music. For instance, the hit song Hey,
Soul Sister by Train features a ukulele, and Brother Iz’s
cover of Somewhere Over The Rainbow is played on
ukulele as well, just to mention a couple. And then
there’s a huge and thriving ukulele community called
Ukulele Underground with many, many members that
spread ukulele music all across the net and reach
people all over the world. Not to forget Jake
Shimabukuro and Aldrine Guerrero as the ukulele

Maki adds, “And when I play my ukulele, I feel like
holding a baby in my arms. And that makes me very
happy.” The three of them laugh and Yuki responds,
“Just don’t tell Yutaro, otherwise he might try to make
you a gift that ships in nine month.” Now they laugh
even louder.
Hiko, Yutaro, and Junji are rehearsing their set in the
music studio in Korien. “Sounded good, guys. Hey
Hiko, do you think you can try a less distorted sound
next time?” Junji asks. “I will. I found it to hard as
well. I’ll work on it at home.”
Yutaro changes the topic, “Guys, I got contacted by a
booker in Tokyo, who asked if we want to play a
couple of gigs in the week between Christmas and
New Year’s Eve in Tokyo and Yokohama, and if our
performances are convincing, he might be able to
arrange a few talks with some other bookers from his
Junji jumps at Yutaro. “That’s awesome!” But Hiko
brings down the excitement, “I’m very much up for
the gigs, and I think it’s always good to talk to people
from the business, especially if they approach us.
Nonetheless, I would like for us not to rush anything.
We are building a strong and solid brand and I don’t
want any agency or company to jump in, benefit from
the work we’ve done so far, and take over our
“What are you talking about? A booking agency won’t
tell us what to do. They will just look for gigs and take

their 20 percent, or whatever share they want, and
send us off to rock some stages.” Junji is still pumped
by the opportunity.
“Can’t we do that ourselves or by bringing someone
we know on board?” Hiko asks. Junji doesn’t
understand Hiko’s concerns. “Why should we do that,
if professionals are interested in us? I don’t know what
you’re afraid of.” Yutaro tries to calm down his
bandmates, “Guys, take it easy. I think the both of you
are right and that we need to explore both options.
First of all, we have no idea if they really want to sign a
booking deal with us and what kind of deal that would
be. And, on the other hand, why not think about
working with someone we know that has knowledge
of the music business in Japan and is a good sales
Yutaro’s words cool down the atmosphere. He asks
Hiko, “Were you thinking of someone in particular?”
“Hatoyama-san.” Hiko’s answer confuses Yutaro and

Episode 18
Rockinʼ around the Christmas tree
on Circle Stage

“Are you out of your mind?” Junji questions Hiko’s

ability to think straight. “Common Junji, no need to be
rude,” Yutaro keeps his cool and turns to Hiko. “I
understand that Hatoyama-san is a big shot in the
music business and that he could pull some strings for
us and make things happen in a rather traditional way.
But his mindset is still very old school and he has no
idea how the new marketing works. For him a band
needs to book a studio, hire a recording engineer and
an established producer to create an album, print
music on physical mediums, and spend a ton of
money for promotion. And that is definitely not what
we have in mind and how we do things.”
Hiko replies, “I don’t know why, but since we
discussed matters after our warm-up concert at the
Kansai Gaidai International Festival, I feel that I can
trust him. And let’s be honest, if we set up a contract
we all can sign without nothing to worry, it doesn’t
matter if it’s Hatoyama-san or someone else.”
Junji’s temper is still boiling. “Dude, we almost
disbanded, because of that Hatoyama guy, and
honestly, I still don’t trust him. I don’t know him, and
I don’t like him. And have you thought about Yuki?
How is she going to take the news that your ex-
girlfriend’s dad will be our booker and might come to

our gigs with his daughter, or better, your ex-
girlfriend?” “Junji has a very valid point there,” Yutaro
adds. Hiko knows that his friends are right, but he
can’t help it. He simply wants to work with Mr.
Meanwhile at Kansai Gaidai, Maki, Yuki, and Yumi are
setting up their backline on the circle stage between
the cafeteria and McDonald’s for their first public
performance ever as a trio. Since many International
students are already done with their final exams and
are just sticking around until the very end of the
semester to return to their respective countries, a
handful of them are helping the girls to set up the PA
and lights and many others are simply waiting for the
trio to start playing.
“I’m still not sure this was a good idea,” Yuki
complains to her bandmates. “Awww, is little Yuki-
chan getting nervous?” Maki teases her. “If we screw
up I’ll blame the whole thing on you and will set the
UBass on fire.” Yuki’s statement sounds very serious.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. And if it’s a success I’ll have to
share the compliments with you girls—obviously.”
Maki smiles at Yuki while tuning her Kala concert
“Are you girls ready to rock the Christmas spirit into
our lost souls with your tiny instruments?” Yutaro
approaches the stage with a big grin on his face.
“You’ll be surprised how hard we will rock you with
our mini instruments!” Yumi shoots a threatening, yet

ironic look at Yutaro. Maki jumps offstage and meets
Yutaro halfway.
“How was practice?” she asks and gives him a kiss.
Yutaro answers, “Practice was good, but afterwards,
when we started discussing the possibility of signing
with a professional booking agency, Hiko drifted into
a weird mood. He said he wants to have Hatoyama-
san as our booker.” Maki frowns in disbelieve.
“What? That’s weird. Why would he want that?” “I
have absolutely no idea. He said he trusts him.” Yuki
approaches and Yutaro switches to a different topic.
“So, Yuki, how do you like your ukulelebass?” Yuki
answers, “If I could play some slap bass on it, I’d love
it. In the meantime, I just like it.” “That’s good
enough,” Junji replies from behind the stage. Hiko and
Junji greet some friends that are sitting on the
platform in front of the circle stage.
“Hey rockstar, how was your day so far?” Yuki smiles
at Hiko and puts her arms around his neck. “It was
okay, but I’m confident that it will be better soon.”
Hiko kisses his girlfriend. “Really? What will make
your day better than it has been up until now?” Yuki
smiles and Hiko answers, “Well, first, you and your
ladies will give us a taste of uke rock music with
Christmas songs, and second, we will have to celebrate
your successful first acoustic gig.” “I’m not sure
there’ll be anything to celebrate. These tiny
instruments are a lot of fun, but I’m not very positive
that people will like this.” Hiko assures Yuki, “Don’t
worry. You’ll be fine. Plus, everyone likes little

instruments. They’re cute and yours even sound good.
Just show us how much fun you have on that stage.
Like when we played the open-air stage at the
International Festival.” Hiko’s words make Yuki very
happy. “You’re the best!” She hugs him.
“Yuki-chan, it’s time!” Maki shouts from the stage.
“Off you go.” Hiko lets his girlfriend go. Yuki runs to
the stage and tunes her UBass one last time, while
Hiko sits down.
“May I sit next to you?” an older man asks. Hiko looks
up. “Ah! Hatoyama-san. Sure!” Hiko is surprised to
see him. “I was giving a presentation and overheard a
group of students talking about an all-girl band playing
an acoustic set out here after classes, so I thought to
drop by and see if there were other great musicians at
Gaidai besides you.” They both smile.
“Isn’t the girl playing that UBass your bass player?”
Mr. Hatoyama asks Hiko. He answers, “She used to
be. We basically restructured two bands. She joined
another guitar player, whose bass player then joined
my band.” “I guess that’s the guy you produce songs
with online, right?” “You’re well-informed, Hatoyama-
san.” “I read your blog and follow everything you do,”
Mr. Hatoyama admits. Today’s discussion about
signing with a booking agency still bothers Hiko and
he just has to ask Mr. Hatoyama, “Hatoyama-san, can
I ask you for advice on something music related?” He

Hiko continues, “Bookers and promoters have been
approaching us and we’ve been talking about signing a
deal, but I’m not quite sure if that’s a good idea. We
don’t know them and I’m afraid they don’t understand
what we are aiming for. That’s why I wanted to ask
you, if you’d want to be our booker.” Mr. Hatoyama
replies, “I’m flattered, Hiko, but do you remember
that I offered you my help in a professional contract
and you didn’t want to take it because you didn’t trust
me?” “Yes, I remember.” “And do you remember that
we agreed on being friends, no strings attached, you
teach me about this new social media business thing
and I help you guys out as far as I can?” “Yes, we
agreed on that,” Hiko replies.
“Then, why don’t we just leave it to that? I’m sure
you’ll do fine. Also, it’s good to do business with
people you don’t know. Thomas Jefferson once said,
‘Merchants have no country.’ In my understanding he
meant that if people that don’t know each other do
business together, emotions wouldn’t affect their
decision-making. Therefore, I advice you to look for a
booker that has no personal connection to your band,
and business will be strictly professional.” “But what if
I can’t trust that booker?” “I think you’re having some
trust issues here. Don’t you, Hiko? In any case, you
should get to know that booker and set up a contract
that has been approved by a lawyer. And if you can’t
afford a lawyer, I can go over it, if you’d like me to. I
think, I have enough knowledge of the business to

assist you and your band in this matter—still, strictly
as a friend, without touching any money.”
A loud voice shoots from the PA and interrupts their
discussion, “Minna-san, we are very pleased you all
joined us for this special outdoor Christmas concert
featuring this newly-formed band. Please give it up for
Maki, Yuki, and Yumi: The November Sun!” The trio
starts playing Rockinʼ Around The Christmas Tree in an
acoustic uke rock version and brings a big smile to the
entire audience, also to Mr. Hatoyama. He tells Hiko,
“They sound great. I’m impressed. And the girl singing
and playing bass has so much charisma. She must be a
very special person.” Hiko can’t stop smiling. “She
definitely is.” “Do you know her well?” Hiko answers,
“Yes… She is my girlfriend.”
Mr. Hatoyama is pleased. “Keep her tight. She might
be the muse the musician in you has been looking
for,” he concludes and leans back to enjoy the show.

Episode 19
Santa, his wife, and a couple of sexy elves

The acoustic Christmas concerts at Gaidai, Hirakata

station and in downtown Osaka were successful and
Yumi, Yuki, and Maki have learned a valuable lesson:
It doesn’t matter how you present your art, as long as
you do it in an innovative, creative, and authentic way.
Even if Yuki wasn’t convinced at first, she grew into
her role and became one with it after realizing how
much fun it was to play that UBass in an all-tiny-
instruments band with Maki and Yumi.
Yumi, Yuki, and Maki are having desert after an
intensive afternoon karaoke party in Namba. “I had
great fun playing these acoustic concerts, but I missed
many hours of work and need a second part-time job
for over these Christmas holidays. Do you know any
store that has open positions in Osaka?” Yumi asks
her friends. “Wait a sec…” Maki pulls a newspaper
out of her bag.
“Check this out. This store in Amerikamura is looking
for four people who’d have to dress up as Santa Claus,
his wife, and two elves on the 24th of December and
play with customers and their kids.” Yumi is not
convinced. “I don’t think they want a female Santa.”
Yuki joins the conversation, “We could ask Yutaro,
Hiko, or Junji to play Santa and you could play sexy
Mrs. Santa.” “And we could play two sexy elves,”
Maki adds. Yumi likes the idea. “Plus, they pay very

well. ¥2,000 an hour and 10 hours of work. That
makes ¥20,000 (approx. $200).”
Yumi and Yuki are excited about the possibility. “Let’s
call up this store to see if they’re still looking for
people and message one of the boys afterwards,” Yuki
suggests. Maki grabs her cell phone and steps outside
the coffee place to call the store. Three minutes later
she comes back in with exciting news. “They said all
positions are still open and we should go talk to them
as soon as possible.” Yumi suggests, “Let’s go now!”
She is desperate to get the one-day Mrs. Santa job.
Yuki gets her phone out of her pocket and dials Junji’s
number. “Let me check if Junji is available right now.”
“Don’t you want to ask Hiko first?” Maki asks Yuki.
“I think, Hiko and Yutaro rather work on their music
than play Santa,” she answers and continues, “and if
they want to come hang out with us, while we talk and
play with children, they can still do that.” Junji picks
up the phone and agrees to meet the three girls in
Amerikamura in 20 minutes.
When the girls arrive at the apparel store in
Amerikamura twenty-five minutes later, Junji is already
discussing the positions with the manager of the store
and greets his future team, while shaking hands with
the hiring manager, “And this is my team. Nakashima-
san, may I introduce you to Yumi, Maki, and Yuki,
also known as The November Sun.” The girls shout in
unison, “Hajimemashite!” and bow. The manager bows
and introduces himself, then seals the deal with Junji

and wishes them a nice day. The four of them leave
the store.
“What happened?” Yumi asks Junji with a big smile on
her face. “I was here a bit early and thought I should
start dealing with the hiring manager right away
instead of waiting for you. And since you girls ain’t the
best when it comes to sell yourself for this kind of
things, you sure don’t mind, right? Anyway. We got
the job and I was even able to persuade him to pay us
¥2,500 an hour…” The girls shout and do the typical
Japanese jump-dance. “BUT,” Junji adds, “you’ll have
to play three Christmas songs every hour on your
ukulele.” The girls know that it is good promotion for
their band, and thank Junji by group-hugging him.
At Hard Rock Café in Hommachi, close to
Amerikamura, Yutaro and Hiko are discussing serious
matters over a couple of drinks. “I talked to
Hatoyama-san about being our booker,” Hiko
confesses to Yutaro. “And what did he say?” Yutaro
doesn’t seem nervous at all. “He doesn’t want to be
our booker or agent or anything like that. But he
offered his help as a friend, if we need anything like
legal advice.” Hiko stops and takes a sip from his
Ozzmosis drink.
Yutaro asks him, “And that is okay with you?” Hiko
nods, “Yes, it is. I don’t know what was going on
inside of me. Somehow I felt, and sometimes still feel,
that everything is becoming bigger than I can handle.”
Hiko’s honest words sound heavy.

“Don’t worry, buddy. You’re not alone. You and me
are partners in crime and Junji is our pumping V8
engine. Look at it that way, our situation can be
compared to the Dragonball story, when Goku and
Kuririn work out for their first tournament: Our band
is Kame House, you are Goku, I’m Yamucha, and
Junji is Kuririn. We work out together and create art
to make our master proud with a great product. And
finally, we will prove our strength at the tournament,
which in our world would be the stages in Tokyo and
Yokohama—at least for now.” Yutaro’s metaphor
makes Hiko laugh.
“Yeah, you’re right. And I appreciate that you guys
make this band your number one priority.” Hiko
thanks Yutaro by raising his glass. “So, shall we drive
to Tokyo or shall we go by night bus?” Hiko finishes
his drink, when Yutaro pulls out an envelope. “Well,
the organizers of the two gigs thought they’d pay for
transportation. And since we should travel
comfortable, they booked ’executive class overnight bus
tickets’ from Osaka to Tokyo, roundtrip!!”
Yutaro and Hiko get all excited, when Junji comes
through the front door. He sits down in the booth,
orders a Sex on the Beach, and finds the executive
class overnight bus tickets on the table. “No way?! This
is too good to be true. And we’re not even rockstars
yet.” Junji is still amazed by the treatment they’re
receiving. Yutaro brings his friend down to his feet,
“Well, if we were rockstars, we’d get our private jet

flying us from Osaka to Tokyo. But this is pretty
awesome already.”
“Let’s celebrate.” Hiko suggests and all of them raise
their classes. “To a rockin’ time in Tokyo!” Hiko,
Junji, and Yutaro have never felt this connected as a
band before.

Episode 20
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
in Amerikamura

It’s the 24th of December. Junji, Maki, Yumi, and Yuki

are dressed up in their respective costumes and are
ready to pick up their one-day job in Amerikamura.
Junji, dressed up as Santa Claus, sits in a big red and
golden chair that looks like a throne. He is waiting for
the first customers to bring in their children and put
them onto Santa’s lap for a picture and a wish. This
isn’t a typical Japanese tradition, but thanks to
American TV shows, younger Japanese generations
know what the festivity is about and enjoy the
character of Santa.
From his chair, Junji can see across the street to a café,
where a young mother is feeding a physically and
mentally disabled child in a wheelchair. Junji assumes
it’s her child. The disabled girl, about 14 years of age,
isn’t able to eat the sweet bun by herself. Her mother
feeds it to her, and since there’s a lot of cream in it, a
mess on the table and the young girl’s cloths is to
expect. Nonetheless, the mother keeps her genuine
smile and is visibly fulfilled by the look of her child
enjoying the sweet.
“When do you see these beautiful things here in
Japan?” Junji asks his friends, standing next to his
chair. They were watching the scene as well. “That’s
heartbreaking. I admire people like that. They must be

amazing human beings with an incredible amount of
love to share with the world.” Maki’s eyes get watery.
“What about we stand in front of that café and play a
few Christmas songs, just for them?” Maki’s idea
quickens the group. They grab a couple of ukuleles
that are standing behind Santa’s chair and move
outside, right in front of the young woman and her
child. Maki looks at her friends, “I play, you guys
She starts strumming and they sing… Have yourself a
merry little Christmas…♪

Episode 21
After Tokyo is simply after Tokyo

Yuki is riding the very first Keihan train to Osaka to

pick up Hiko from his trip to Tokyo with the band.
She is very excited to have him back after one week,
and she wants to hear all about their gigs and the talks
with the bookers from that agency that wants to sign
them. They didn’t have much time to talk on the
phone this past week. Yuki had to work a lot and Hiko
was always invited to networking meetings with people
from the music business. Networking is a must and
Yuki knows that.
“Perfect timing.” Yuki gets to the bus stop right when
the bus arrives. She has never had the chance to ride in
an Executive Class overnight bus, but she is confident
that someday she will be able to do that.
“Hiko!” Yuki waves and shouts when she sees him
getting off the bus. “Yuki!” Hiko’s face lightens up.
Yuki pushes a kiss onto his lips and asks, “How was
your trip?” Hiko points to the bus, “What do you
think? Believe me, once you travel Executive Class you
don’t want to travel economy anymore.” “Whatever
you say, you rockstar!” Yutaro jokes and pushes Hiko
to the side, while handling their guitar cases.
“Hi Yuki. Did you come with Maki?” He asks. “She
wanted to come, but she had to work early at the cake
shop.” Yutaro is a bit disappointed. “Yukiiii!!!” a well-

rested Junji shouts in the coolest way possible asking
for a high-five. “I guess you enjoyed Tokyo?” Yuki
asks. Junji takes up a Julius Caesar-like position and
says in a theatrical voice, “We went, we saw, and we
rocked!” They all laugh.
In a Starbucks nearby, Hiko tells Yuki all about the
concerts and the meetings they had in Tokyo and
Yokohama in the week between Christmas and New
“It was such a great experience. When we first got to
Tokyo, early in the morning, the booker that
organized the trip picked us up with his assistant and
they brought us to the hotel to take a nap and freshen
up. The hotel was in Shinjuku and had everything you
could have asked for.” Yuki affirms, “I can imagine. I
saw your tweets and the pictures on Facebook.” Hiko
continues, “Then they introduced us to the CEO of
the booking agency, who I already knew from my
Youtube channel. He often comments on my videos
and apparently he also follows me on Twitter. Isn’t
that great?” His own story gets him all excited.
“Tell me about the concerts!” Yuki wants to know.
Hiko moves closer to Yuki.
“As you might have seen on the pictures I posted
online, there were about 500 people in the audience in
Tokyo as well as in Yokohama. The guys from the
band we opened for, Floor9—they just got signed by a
major label and will be breaking through soon,
according to their manager—were really nice and told

us a lot about how they got where they are now. But
there is a way easier way than how they decided to do
it. They did it the traditional way with going to a
studio, producing physical CDs, and everything that
comes with that, whereas today bands like us have the
possibility to spread music through social media.
Anyway, the gigs were a blast! Many of the people in
the audience wore the shirts we sell online through
Spreadshirt and knew the words to Inakute Sabishii,
Youtubers Unite! and even to Makiʼs Song. They sang
with us. That was simply amazing!” Hiko can’t hide his
enthusiasm, and Yuki shows her happiness for them
by pressing his hand and smiling.
“So, what’s going to happen now?” Yuki is eager to
know what’s going to come next for Hiko, Yutaro,
and Junji. Hiko leans back.
“Not much—at least for the next six months. We just
proceed with producing songs for Youtube and
iTunes, play some gigs on weekends—preferably
local—and we keep going to Gaidai to get our
bachelor degree.” Yuki is baffled.
“I don’t get it. They didn’t want to sign you? But it
sounded as if everything was great.” Hiko smiles. “No,
no. They wanted to sign us already and they would still
give us a great deal, but Hiko, Junji, and I realized that
we’re just not ready for such a commitment yet. Our
set list is very good, but not remarkable. And as Seth
Godin says, Very good is bad. You gotta be remarkable.”

Yuki laughs heartily. “You really like quoting Seth
Godin, don’t you?”
“I’m just afraid that we sign one deal, then we’ll sign
another deal, and sooner or later we’re too deep into a
whole mess that doesn’t reflect what we want to
reflect and maybe even has control over our own
music.” Hiko gets more thoughtful, when Yuki asks
him, “Do you know what you exactly want?” “Yes. I
want to play music I like, with people I like, for people
that like it, plus, whenever I like to.” Hiko’s words
touch Yuki.
He adds, “The exclusiveness of these deals always
bothers me. I think the incident with the Genji
Hatoyama Band taught me well. Why should I give up
my freedom and control, when I’m always connected
to people that like my music and spread the word?
One executive we met in Tokyo told us that we’d have
to give up control over all our social media sites and
let them do it.” “Yeah, I read that on your Facebook,
but I don’t think it’s always like that.” Yuki takes a sip
from her Matcha tea.
“Anyway. We told the booking agency that if they
want to book us for gigs on weekends in Osaka, they
are more than welcome to do so, but we won’t sign a
deal or go on tour. And they agreed on that.” Hiko
seems happy with that agreement. “But we told them
that if transportation and hotel is covered, we might
consider playing other cities as well. And comes the
summer, we will consider playing festivals. However,
much will happen until then and we have no clue

where we will be with our lives.” Yuki moves onto
Hiko’s lap and they cuddle.

Episode 22
All these glitters are pure gold

Today is Seijin no Hi in Japan, or in English, Coming of

Age Day. On this national holiday, January 10, all
young people who turn twenty this year are celebrated.
They can be seen wandering around the streets of
Japan in large groups, but Maki, Yuki, and Yumi
decide to celebrate just in their little party of three.
The trio was out all night celebrating their massive
surge of online fans. Since Hiko, Junji, and Yutaro
played in Tokyo in the last week of December,
hundreds of people subscribed to the The November Sun
Youtube channel and more subscribers join on a daily
basis. Maybe it’s because they played Maki’s song and
linked their channel and other pages to the girls’
channel. Maki, Yuki, and Yumi still don’t know and
don’t care. All they care about is that their music
reaches people who enjoy it.
“What time is it?” a tipsy Yuki asks her companions
while walking down Midosuji Dori in Shinsaibashi.
“5:55,” Maki answers. “Look at those beautiful
girls…” Yumi points to a dozen of beautifully dressed
girls taking one little step at the time in their Kimonos.
“Ain’t your parents mad at you for choosing not to
celebrate Seijin no Hi with them?” Maki asks with a
concerned look.
Yumi replies with a smile, “No, they understood when
I told them that I wanted to celebrate with you girls.

Besides, I’ll be celebrating over a nice dinner with
them tonight.”
Maki’s phone rings. She still has Ken Hirai’s 2006 hit-
song, POP STAR as her default ringtone. ♫ I wanna be
a pop star, kimi wo motto ♫ and as she always does, she
dances along, which drives Yuki crazy. “Girl, you
really gotta change that ringtone. It’s sooooo
Maki picks up, “Moshi moshi.” It’s Yutaro telling her
something that makes Maki’s jar fall open. “Did
something bad happen?” “What happened? Tell us!”
Yumi and Yuki are worried. “Okay, see you later!”
Maki hangs up… silence… Maki browses through her
cell phone, searching for something, when she
suddenly screams from the top of her lungs. Yumi and
Yuki shout in unison, “What?” “Our video for Maki’s
Song is featured on Perez Hilton’s blog and we got
more than 100,000 views overnight!” The girls are
After calming down, Yuki asks, “How could that have
happened? What did we do?” Yumi shrugs. “I’m not
sure. I think it was just good to upload all those videos
we took while rehearsing and the videos from the
Christmas concerts. It’s obvious that the more videos
we have on our channel, the more different people we
can attract. And sooner or later someone influential
will get across one of our videos, which he likes and
links it on her blog.”

Yuki adds, “And sharing our Youtube videos on all
the other social media platforms we use accelerates
that process. Glad a couple of our songs are already
approved and ready to be bought on iTunes and the
other online music stores. I wonder if we sell any
MP3s, since we also give them away for free on our
site?” The girls look at each other with big smiles and
let another shout of triumph run free.
Maki admits, “I don’t care if anyone buys our MP3s.
I’m happy as long as people visit us online and enjoy
what they see and hear and share it with their friends.”
Then, Yumi comes up with an idea, “Why don’t we
record a song right now, live and raw, to thank
everyone for having subscribed?” “How shall we do
that?” Maki asks.
Yumi explains, “We all have cell phones with video
cameras. Let’s ask Yutaro, Junji, and Hiko, if they
would film us while we play and then we’ll cut it
together as a multi-window video, like that ukulele guy
Yutaro likes to get ideas from, and for the audio, we
just use the best one.” “Awesome idea. Let’s do that!”
Yuki says with excitement. Maki nods. Yuki texts their
friends to meet in a couple of hours in the music
studio in Korien and they all text back agreeing to
Hiko, Junji, and Yutaro meet up at Korien station.
When they get to the studio, they see a crowd standing
in front of one of the studio rooms, in which a band is
rocking out. Everybody is visibly excited. Yutaro tells
his friends, “I got a deja-vu. This is like the time when

Yuki auditioned for you guys, and the entire music
club wanted to get a glimpse of your studio
Junji replies, “And I wouldn’t be surprised if that
crowd is cramming in front of the window to see Yuki
and her girls.” The music in that said room stops and a
few moments later, Maki steps outside wearing a
beautiful kimono. She fights her way through the
crowd until she stands in front of her three friends,
who are speechless. “Glad you guys could make it.
Thank you so much!” Maki bows.
Finally, Junji gets his speech back, “You look
tremendously awesome!” Yutaro doesn’t know what
to say, so he just adds, “You’re beautiful!” Maki smiles
and blushes. A girl’s voice shouts from inside the
room, “Hey, let’s get going. We’re paying money for
Yumi and Yuki give the guys a big smile when they
enter the room and ask, “Do you like it?” Their
question is related to their fashion. Hiko notices,
“You’re all wearing a kimono.” And Junji asks, “Does
it have anything to do with the fact that today is Seijin
no Hi?” Yumi explains, “Actually, yes. We thought,
since it’s Seijin no Hi, and we just got featured on
different blogs, we should make a Thank You video
for all fans and supporters in a kimono.” Yuki adds,
“And without sounding too smugly, we simply look
fabulous in our kimonos, don’t we?” Everybody
laughs with joy.

“This is how we’ll do it:” Yumi starts explaining how
she’d like to have it, “Hiko, Junji, Yutaro, each of you
take one of our cell phones and film us while we play a
couple of tunes. You stand in different angles and film
another band member. Say, Hiko takes Yuki’s cell
phone and films her, Yutaro films Maki with her cell
phone, and Junji, you’ll take my cell phone and film
me playing the drums. After that, you’ll send me your
files and I’ll cut the video on Final Cut Express.
Alright?” They proceed as explained by Yumi.
“What songs are you going to play now?” Hiko asks.
The girls grin and Yumi answers, "First we want to say
'Thank you' to all our subscribers with a cover of
Youtubers Unite!, and then, we thought we should
return the favor, since you guys promoted our channel
a lot in the past, and cover one of your songs. So, hit
the record button now! Here we go…Ichi, ni, san, shi!”

Episode 23
The World is not flat enough

It’s a cold but serene January evening in Hirakata.

Yuki and Maki are spending the evening with muffins
and Matcha drinks at a Starbucks, close to Hirakata
Keihan Station.
“It was a great idea making those ‘Thank you’ videos
in our kimonos.” Yuki is browsing through the mass
of comments that piled up ever since they uploaded
the videos, when all of a sudden she sighs. She puts
down her cell phone and throws a glove to the other
side of the table, where Maki is sitting in a comfortable
green armchair with a cup in her hands.
“What was that for?” Maki shouts. “I’ve been
answering all comments for the past week and I’m
getting tired of it. Can’t you take over?” Yuki is
annoyed and puts on a sad face. Maki starts laughing.
“Common, you baby. You volunteered. You must
have seen it coming.” “No, I didn’t! I thought people
don’t comment much online. And replying to 30 or so
comments in total is no big thing. But we get 30
comments every day and that is just too much for me to
Yuki is clearly stressed out about it. Maki grabs Yuki’s
cell phone and suggests, “Okay, let me handle the
replies for the next couple of days, so you can relax
and spend your free time writing songs and think

about how we can best produce songs as remote
Yuki leans back and takes a big bite from her
blueberry muffin. She asks with a mouth full of muffin
crumbles, “Why do we need to make remote collabs?
We live so close from each other and we always record
in a studio anyways. That’s how we do things.” Maki
keeps her eyes on the screen and answers, “But things
change.” Yuki isn’t getting Maki’s point and has to
follow up, “What do you mean by that?” Maki sighs
and puts down the cell phone.
“Yuki, do you remember that I always wanted to study
music in the US and that I was checking out all those
colleges of music?” Yuki nods. Maki continues, “Well,
I kept following a handful of US music colleges on
Twitter and Facebook, just to receive news from them,
and since I’m convinced that what they do is great, I
also retweeted and shared some material with my
friends online. Because of that, a handful of these
colleges kept in touch with me and followed me back.”
Pause. “Still not getting your point.” Yuki looks
puzzled. Maki takes a deep breath and cuts to the
point, “I’ll be leaving for the US next week, to study
music at McNally Smith College of Music.” Maki is
visibly tense and Yuki is in shock.
“I’m sorry I couldn't tell you sooner, but I had no clue
that my parents would actually let me go. Plus, the
college is giving me a scholarship!” Maki can’t hide her
excitement. Yuki is still perplexed.

“I don’t know what to say… How long will you be
gone?” Yuki asks in a very sad voice. “I'm not sure. At
least one year.” Maki can feel Yuki’s disappointment
and tries to hide her excitement now.
“When my parents told me that I need to get an
education in Japan before going abroad and that they
wouldn’t spend all that tuition money on music
studies, I just gave up. Then, when our music got
popular online and some music colleges started
showing interest in me I thought, why not just to try
again. And then, I got the offer. Ain’t you happy for
me, Yuki-chan?"
The news of Maki leaving comes very unexpected for
Yuki. Her perception of the situation up until now was
that they were on the right track to create a remarkable
set and play great gigs during the summer. Who would
have thought that one of her band members would get
such an offer and move away?
Maki explains, “You know, me leaving the country to
study doesn’t mean that I have to leave the band. I
don’t want to leave the band at all. Fact is that we
don’t have a set yet to play live shows. Because of that,
we need to work on originals and cool cover songs,
and we can do that over the Internet and present our
results to our following to entertain them. And that
will result in promotion and brand-building for The
November Sun.” Maki smiles.
Yuki can’t lay down her disappointed face. “I know,
and by the way, I am thrilled for you. You’ll get to

study music in the US. Wow! You’ll be playing music
everyday, all day long, and you’ll be studying
everything you need to know to become a professional
musician. I’m so proud of you!” Yuki gets up and hugs
Maki. They are both moved.
Yuki calmed down now and brings the conversation to
a less emotional level, “How come do your parents
allow you to leave Gaidai?” “I got more than enough
credits to get a 2-year college degree from Gaidai. It’s
not a bachelor, but I can always continue and get my
bachelor when I come back from the US, which I will
most likely do.” Maki smiles at Yuki, who replies,
“You better do come back and play with Yumi and
me. I believe in us and I can'’t imagine rockin’ out with
anyone else other than you and Yumi.” Yuki tries to
control her tears, but Maki’s eyes are getting watery
and a couple of tears find their way down her cheeks.
Yuki gets emotional, “I am really going to miss you,
Maki-chan.” Her voice starts shaking. Maki loses
control over her tears and cries with a smile on her
face. Maki tries to get a grip, “Common, we got Skype,
Mixi, Facebook and all those other communication
possibilities. And we’ll be making tons of remote
collabs for our band.” Yuki adds, “And I’ll come visit
you during our breaks, and you’ll have to come visit
me during your beaks. I guess the scholarship you get
can cover all that traveling.” The girls laugh with tears
in their eyes.
“Did you tell Yutaro yet?” Yuki asks. Maki dries her
tears with a napkin. “No, I only told you and the dean.

I hope he won’t take it too hard.” Yuki smiles at Maki
and consoles her, “If he loves you as much as I love
you, he will wait for you and simply be happy for
you.” Maki looks a bit worried. “I hope so.” They lean
back in the same armchair.

Episode 24
Time to say goodbye

Maki and Yutaro are cuddling and dwelling in

melancholy on a bench in the park behind the
Katahoko Library in Hirakata. They know these will
be the last moments they might spend alone together
for at least four months. Ever since Maki told Yutaro
that she will be studying in the US, he decided to free
his schedule and spend every second possible with
Maki. Yutaro wasn’t disappointed when Maki told him
about her going abroad. He was very proud. Of
course, Yutaro would rather have her in Hirakata,
where they can be together every day. But things are
the way they are and Maki has received a great
opportunity and simply has to make good use of it and
study abroad. Thanks to Skype, Yutaro and Maki will
be able to talk and see each other on a daily basis for
free. It makes being apart a bit easier.
“Your parents called me today and asked me if I’m
still bringing you to the airport tomorrow. They want
to make sure you really miss me once you’re gone.”
Yutaro smiles and Maki hits him on the chest. “You’re
mean! I will miss Japan every day, and you most.”
“Nevertheless, try to enjoy your time at McNally-
Smith as much as possible. You’re going there to
improve your skills and hopefully find friends with
whom you’ll get to apply the stuff they teach you in
class in the studio and on stage. And never forget to

work on material for The November Sun. This is mostly
happening because the three of you created a
remarkable brand with great potential to succeed. My
vision is to see your following grow thanks to remote
collaborations during the year you’ll be spending
abroad, and when you come back, you girls will
perform live and rock your Japanese fans.” Yutaro
makes Maki dream.
“What did I do to serve you?” Maki asks and kisses
Yutaro. “Guess what. You will deserve me even more,
if you keep in touch and simply come back to me.”
They kiss and don’t let anything disturb their romantic
After a whole week of moving some of her belongings
to Yutaro’s place, sending some other things to her
parents’ house, and looking for a student to take over
her apartment, it’s finally time to take a deep breath
and dare to get on the plane; the plane that will bring
her to a new place filled with music; the plane that will
make remote collaborations truly remote.
It’s 5:45 AM and the taxi is waiting in front of
Yutaro’s apartment to pick them up and bring them to
the long-distance bus stop in downtown Hirakata.
They get there on time to catch the bus that will bring
them directly to Kansai International Airport. Yuki
and Hiko are already at the bus stop waiting for Maki
and Yutaro.
Yuki shouts, “Ohayou!!!” and hugs Maki. It’s the sort of
hug that shows how much she doesn’t want Maki to

leave. Yuki asks, “Did you have a good night sleep?”
Hiko intrudes, “A good night sleep? We were out all
night long partying at that karaoke place. How much
could they have slept?” Yuki leans closer to Maki and
whispers, “I hope you had some time to at least ‘say
goodbye’ to Yutaro.” Maki blushes.
Yutaro asks Yuki, “Do you know if Yumi made it
home alright last night?” She answers, “Yes, she did.
She texted me. And she’ll be at the airport around 8:30
she said.” The bus driver asks all the passengers to
show their tickets and to get on the bus.
During the almost 2-hour bus drive from Hirakata to
the airport, Maki sleeps leaning her head on Yuki’s
shoulder. Yuki can’t stop thinking about her best
friend leaving her. “It seems as if you didn’t have
enough time to prepare yourself for this either,”
Yutaro whispers to Yuki across the aisle. “No, I
definitely didn’t have enough time.” Yuki is visibly sad.
“But if this is what she wants and needs to do, she has
all our support, right?” Her words sound like a
command, not like a question.” Yutaro smiles and
nods. “Always.”
The bus driver announces the last stop, Kansai Kokusai
“Maki, wake up. We’re at the airport.” Yuki caresses
Maki’s face. The four of them get of the bus. Yutaro
and Hiko get Maki’s suitcases, when Yumi approaches
the group. “Maki-chan!” Yumi gives Maki a hug and
shakes her from one foot to the other, before the

three girls move inside, while the guys carry Maki’s
“I usually like coming here, because I get to leave. But
this time I’m not sure how happy I can be.” Yuki gets
very emotional and turns away from her friends to
hide her tears. “Hey rockstar!” a young man shouts
from behind a group of travelers. “Junji-kun!" Maki
notes with a big smile. “Did you think I would let you
leave without saying goodbye?” Maki replies, “Sure
After Maki checked-in it’s time to face reality and to
say goodbye.
Maki stands in front her five friends that are lined up
in a half-circle, behind her, the security-check area,
where only passengers with a valid boarding pass are
allowed in.
“I guess this is it,” Maki starts with tears in her eyes. “I
don’t know what to say, other than, thank you all so
much for having been there for me during these past
months, and some of you for the past years. As Yutaro
pointed out to me, the reason why we’re here today is
because you guys made it possible for me to become a
better musician, and above all, to grow as a person. If
I hadn’t fallen in love with Yutaro, I would never have
left that band. And if Yuki hadn’t had such great
bandmates like Hiko and Junji teaching her everything
she needs to know to be a bandleader, The November
Sun would never have been founded. And Yumi, your

great personality and butt-kicking drumming brought
our music to a new, more professional level.”
Maki's words stop, because her tears absorb all her
voice. She puts her hands in front of her face. Yutaro
takes her in his arms.
“And you were always the sunshine of our posse and
you will always be that sunshine, even if you’re
thousands of miles away. Remember when you wanted
to be a professional music promoter, because you
were so good at attracting people to our gigs at the
Kansai Gaidai International Festival?” Everyone
smiles. Junji steps in, “Or when you made that young
mother who was taking care of her disabled child in
Amerikamura last Christmas cry of joy.” “Or when
you gave that drummer girl a place in your band,”
Yumi says trying to stop her tears at the same time.
Maki can’t fight her tears anymore. She just let’s them
run. But no matter how sad this moment is, she smiles
of joy and happiness. She knows that her friends will
be there for her even if they don’t live in the same
time zone. And they will still be there when she comes
Yuki approaches Maki and gives her a hug. “Maki-
chan, I don’t know if you ever realized that, but I
consider you my best friend. You are the reason why I
am who I am. You always inspire me and you make
me wish to be more like you.” “Ah, stop it, Yuki. I
wish I were more like you.” The girls smile at each

“I only let you leave under one condition,” Yuki holds
Maki’s hands, “you have to promise that you will come
back to me.” She presses a soft kiss onto Maki’s lips
and smiles at her. Maki smiles back.
“You guys are the best,” Maki tells her friends. “And
don’t forget these words: Every time you look up to
the sky, I will be looking at the same sky. That’s how
close we are to each other.” She grabs her guitar and
her backpack and joins the line to get into the security-
check area. The line is very short and it doesn’t take
long for Maki to get through the security-check point.
After she gathers her belongings from the baskets, she
looks back to her friends and waves one last time.
Yutaro, Hiko, Junji, Yumi, and Yuki wave back. Maki
smiles and proceeds to the gate.


Further resources
You can find songs by The Hiko/Yutaro-
Collaboration and The November Sun performed by
me at
If you’d like to get in touch with me, follow my
Twitter at and tweet me. I’ll
reply as soon as possible.
Thank you!

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