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.

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

One response to “Shuji Watanabe, 1972 (?) – 2012”

  1. mikey2ct says :

    It’s tough losing friends especially at such a young age.

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