This day in 1996, the Japanese dorama Long Vacation starring Kimura Takuya and Yamaguchi Tomoko first aired on Fuji TV. Kimura played Hidetoshi Sena, a 24-year-old music college graduate who aspires to be a world-class pianist and teaches at a local piano school while he waits for his big break. Yamaguchi played Hayama Minami, a 31- year- old model who feels the pressure to get married and retire from modelling. The story begins with Minami, in a traditional Japanese wedding garb, running madly to look for her groom Asakura at his apartment. But Asakura had run off with another woman, leaving his roommate Sena, to give Minami a letter.
You’re the type who’ll live a million years without me.
So Asakura had written in his letter. Desperate not to lose face in front of her family and friends, Minami asked Sena on the spot to marry her. Sena was able to calm Minami down and make her see reason. As she was leaving his apartment, Minami wished Sena good luck in his piano competition.
I’ve never played for somebody else’s sake.
Despite his talent, Sena seemed unable to express himself in his piano playing. Neither could he tell the object of his affection, his music college junior Okusawa Ryoko (Matsu Takako), his feelings. Then Minami moved in his apartment, and gradually he shared not only his apartment but his hopes and fears with somebody.
I highly recommend this dorama for its insights not only on relationships but also career paths. The characters are endearing, their dialogues engaging. I particularly like the following exchanges:
Minami (M) and Sena (S), on what to do when things are not working out:
M : What am I doing? I played pachinko all day.
S : Why don’t you think of it this way: It’s a long vacation.
M : Long vacation?
S : There’s no reason to rush. There are times no matter what you do, it doesn’t work out. No matter what you do, it’s no good. At times like that, it may sound strange but why don’t you think of it as a vacation from God. Don’t force yourself. Don’t rush. Don’t try harder. Just let everything take its natural course.
M : Then?
S : Things will improve.
M : Really?
S : Probably.
Minami (M) and her brother Shinji (S), on Sena quitting the piano:
S : It’s cruel to force a bird to fly if it cannot fly.
M : A bird that can’t fly?
S : Those who can do what they love, they have wings. Those who don’t have wings will never fly no matter how hard they try.
M : Sena’s capable of flying. He has the biggest wings in the world.