Archive | April 23, 2012

Shuji Watanabe, 1972 (?) – 2012

Shuji (on the right) with Maa

I just received news that my friend, Shuji, has finally passed after a very long fight with cancer. In the late 1990’s I lived in Osaka, Japan, a short period that turned out to be a major turning point in my life. In that time, I became friends with Shuji’s older brother Eizo, who remains one of my best friends to this day.

I would talk of deep conversations with Shuji, but the truth is that I only heard him speak once. Despite his apparent linguistic reticence, Shuji was no shut-in. He would kindly greet me with a wave and a nod whenever I saw him, would come out to shows that my band played, and generally treat me and every one else as a friend. Shuji was a constant mystery, though it was impossible to say that he was anything but kind.

The last time I saw Shuji was last year, when I was visiting Osaka, which, as would happen, was the single time I heard his voice. He was busy fighting cancer, but still made a point to leave the house and visit his friends. He had ridden in on a small motorcycle that a social services group had provided him to help him get around. I seem to remember that we chided him for not wearing a helmet.

Apparently, he maintained his quiet but outgoing demeanor until his final days. Eizo contacted me a few weeks ago and asked that I send Shuji a BULB Tshirt immediately, indicating that he wanted one. It’s an odd last request, but I was incredibly honored to do so for a good friend and a generally amazing guy.

I’m happy to have shared this earth with Shuji and happier that I had the opportunity to meet him. I’m sure that everyone he knows is thinking the same thing. He will be sorely missed on my next trip to Osaka.

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