'An Origin of 20 Years Old' by Etsuko Takano

26/January/2023 in Kyoto

*Japanese ver

Since Saturday, Tokyo has been cloudy & rainy

Very unusual in Tokyo's winter. Usually blue clear sky & brightful sun beams

But this clouded, grey atmosphere feels perfect for reading this book

Past few days, reading a diary written by a Japanese girl

Published in 1971 & became popular among the young

Her name is Etsuko Takano, a uni student in Kyoto, who killed herself in 1969 at the age of 20

First read was when I was around 21, and ever since this has been a book that's close to my heart, and surely will be

Again this time, what I was impressed the most was her sincerity

It was this sincerity that made this book attractive & that killed her

Wondering if people still write a diary like this

In order to be this serious & honest, we need 2 things 

Lots of time to focus on ourself
Lots of loneliness to face ourself

But nowadays, there is an overwhelming amount of entertainments here and there which let us avoid facing ourself

Also we can connect with anyone 24/7

.....But due to this high connectivity, perhaps there are more people who feel more separated & more loneliness, and writing a diary alone somewhere in this cloudy Tokyo's night

What I newly noticed this time was, she often wrote "I'm empty", as in

"I'm very weak. My will is so weak. I don't have my opinions. I'm always influenced by others"

While reading, I was remembering when I was her age, and thought I felt the same then

I thought I don't have "my own sense", "my own story", or "my own individuality"

I thought I don't have anything differentiating from others at my age

Thus, I always envied those who looked very confident in themselves, such as artists

They always looked like having something to tell others

Perhaps it was natural then, because my life had been basically the same as every other Japanese young people at my age

On the surface I followed a certain life's template, just like many other people in this country

In this way, going abroad, to the Uk, was such a big decision for me. It meant I chose a complete different path from mass

But I think even after coming back from the UK, I thought I didn't have such a confidence in myself

Only after my life in Amsterdam coming to an end & returning to Tokyo, I gradually felt, my life is unique enough, I am unique enough, and I have my own stories

This was what I recently noticed while writing my memoir of my life in Amsterdam these days

Got some questions about the diary I mentioned

It's called "Nijussai No Genten (An origin of 20 years old)"

Diary writer is a female student in Ritsumeikan university in Kyoto

After she killed herself by train at 20 y.o., her parents found a pile of diaries in her room. It ended 2 days before her death

It became a best seller book in 70s and even now sometimes people mention it

In the diaries, she often wrote about a gap between her ideal and reality, conflicts with parents and society, relationships with friends and men, concerns about the future etc.. in a sincere manner

In a sense it's all typical common worries & anxieties among the young...., actually among everyone at any age

But that's why it still struck a wide range of people

Through her writing, everyone can see what kind of person she was

She was pure

She was innocent

She was sincere

But it all feels too much. Her purity, innocence looks very painful

I think this almost violent purity & innocence, or this sensitivity & fragility, or simply this spark of life, is something only people at around her age have