Monday, November 14, 2011


Hiroshi Masuda (center)
KTS' President Hiroshi Masuda talks about growing up

I was born in Tokyo in 1954. Soon after birth, my family move to Asaka-City in Saitama prefecture which was close to the center of Tokyo. I had been spending most of my life in this small city.

As long as I remember, there was huge camp where American troops were stationed called Camp Asaka in my city. We called them an occupation army or stationary troops. Big soldiers who have blue eyes were laughingly looking at us and chewing gum. Sometimes they gave us chocolates in which we had never seen the brand names. We could see America over the fence but could never enter over the fence. There were many bars which has fascia written in English aimed at American soldiers. At night, prostitutes called Pang-Pang Girls were wandering in the party town and picking up the soldiers.

The public moral was not good for education in our city. However there was a good atmosphere for listening Western music. Guys started putting together band to play The Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane.... Some modern girls were wearing similar clothes as Janis Joplin and some dudes had cut their hair like Brian Jones. We used to listen the trendy songs from FEN radio that was located in the base.

There was a small musical instrument shop at the west gate of the base. We used to drop by the shop on our way home from junior high school. The Japanese shopkeeper always talked in English with a black soldier. There were many guitars, amps, basses and drums in the shop. Unfortunately they were not Fender, Gibson, Marshall and Ludwig but Guyatone, Teisco and Gracy which are Japanese brands. However they were dream instruments for schoolboys. One day, our band asked the shopkeeper to sell us a drum set by monthly payment. Because ordinary music shops never accepted monthly payment without parents' consent. At that time, most of parents never recognized the Western (electric) music. My parents as well.... So we couldn't ask our Moms or Dads about that... Fortunately, the shopkeeper accepted our offer in the condition that we had to pay off the set within six months. Thus, we finally got the drum-set.

We were believing that we were the number one band in the city. We had copied Jumpin' Jack Flash completely when the seven-inch record has just released. I taught Grand Funk Railroad lines to senior high school students. One day we held a concert in our classroom. There were nearly one hundred people (including teachers ;-)) who could not even enter the classroom and had to watch through the window in the schoolyard. And just past the schoolyard....  we could always see ..
AMERICA surrounded by the fence....

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