In 2001 I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Tokyo for a week. A coworker at the office I worked was visiting home and I decided to go, since her family could provide some navigation, food and a friendly face. However, it was a fate chance by email that I was able to meet one of the Elder Gods of video game music composition; I would get a chance to meet Yuzo Koshiro himself.
At the time I was gracing his company‘s English board, since Yuzo was the moderator for it. When I was finalizing my plans to travel there, I asked him on the board if he would mind me visiting him since the odds of me ever visiting Tokyo, let alone Japan, again were very slim. He replied with an email saying that he would be honored. Well, after soiling myself and getting the address of his office, we made a plan for Tuesday, March 13th, for me to visit in the afternoon. What occurred was far more amazing than I could ever describe in words.
I arrived in the middle of the afternoon, my heart pounding and sweating with excitement. I hop off the Toyota station (can’t remember the line, but I recall it being brown) and ring the doorbell. His mom answers and welcomes me in. It’s a modified residential house with kitchen, gutted-out living room, and the upstairs is where Yuzo has his studio. Then, I met him as well as his sister, Ayano, and we were all smiles. They were so humbled that a fan from the U.S. would even think of visiting them in adoration and praise, and this definitely showed in how easy-going the atmosphere was. Now, knowing this was a once-in-a-lifetime thing, I brought some game memorabilia for him and his sister to sign. This included Actraiser 1 and 2 boxes and the Streets of Rage 2 and Actraiser 1 soundtracks. Yuzo stated that he did not remember the RoS OST packaging at all, despite him being in his early 20s and clearly standing inside the booklet back. A very nice unexpected surprise was they had given me some VERY rare game OSTs as a gift back for coming to visit them, and I nearly peed myself. They gave me Super Adventure Island OST and Yuzo’s Second Early Collection. To this day they barely leave the CD shelf.
A brief tour was given around the place, as well as the the sacred temple that is his second floor studio (the topmost picture in Sega-16’s feature is the same place in my picture, different angle). He had a GBA hooked up to his computer doing some work on a game that he was unable to disclose to me. It also had a bed since, he spent more than ample time in there, especially on deadlines.
Since I had arrived shortly before the end of the day, they asked if I wanted to go out for a few beers. Naturally, my furious nodding gave them the answer they requested, and off we went to a local pub for beer and snacks. I cannot recall how much time had passed but I, as respectfully as possible, started sounding off to him, his sister and one of their overseas interns on every minute detail about his Shinobi and SoR soundtracks, my favorites and questions on inspirations. He laughed in amazement on how I could retain all this trivial knowledge, especially since he doesn’t remember a lot of it, considering he made most of that music ten years prior. Then, I told him that the following of fans he has in the states is very large, and his works are some of the most highly respected in the industry. I had tried to get as much as I could out honorable praise since I would not have another chance.
As it was getting darker out, they graciously paid the tab for me and we said our goodbyes. Again I profusely thanked them for the most amazing day in my life and hoped to meet them again sometime in the near future. The train ride home was surreal, and knew at that moment that I would never have another day as amazing as this, and I still haven’t. A few days later I called him to see if I could squeeze in some more time, but he was unavailable. Alas, it would have cheapened the experience in retrospect, but I did it, and that’s all that mattered. About a year later I emailed him just to say hi and shoot the breeze. He replied to me that his wife had recently given birth to a baby boy, Kent. I still have the e-mail in my inbox, four years after getting it.
I consider myself luckier than most that I was able to fulfill two dreams at once, especially since the stakes were very high. I do plan on going back one day to visit, and if I do I will try to contact him again. Or, God willing, he’ll come to America for another Play! Symphony concert that I will be able to attend.