There is an peculiar place in Kochi city named gChikyu 33-banchi
(33 Earth Street)h in Kochi city. Enokuchigawa river runs from east to
west through the middle of the city and passes north of Kochi castle winding
around it like a moat, and finally flows into Uratowan bay. The river runs
under the famous Harimayabashi bridge and one kilometer east from there,
a peculiar tower stands on the river bank. The area happens to be at longitude
133 degrees 33 minutes 33 seconds east and latitude 33 degrees 33 minutes
33 seconds north. To mark this peculiar location, the Rotary Club of Kochi
built a monument and donated it to the city about 40 years ago. It is merely
two straight numerical lines of 3s and carries no particular significance
or historical importance, but to me it is something I cannot forget, because
a friend of mine loves near this memorial as if he were its guardian.
Letfs call him a gSen-nin Yh (Unworldly Man Y) for the sake
of this story. His address written on his calling card is gChikyu 33-banchih,
that is, 33 Earth Street. Simply put it, he is a total outsider of contemporary
society. He doesnft drive; instead, he rides a bicycle around the city
visiting like-minded friends. He loves writing poems and has kept writing
for many years. To an ordinary person like me, his poems were difficult
understand and unusual.
Mr. Y had great educational qualifications and joined a major
newspaper company with an excellent academic record. He tackled all the
tasks diligently and would never easily compromised with his principles.
One of his colleagues who joined the company at the same time was nervous
of his superiors and tried to please them. This person conformed to the
companyfs policies even against his will and wrote conservative articles
that the the company president would like. Unlike him, Mr. Y would steadfastly
refused to compromise himself and stick to his principles. He wrote his
poems in the papers as well. Because of this, he constantly clashed with
others everywhere and had trouble with his superiors. This made his otherwise
secured path to a great journalist precarious.
Even after retiring, he didnft stop writing. His mottoes
as a journalist was to report truths accurately and tell the readers, as
a man of letters, his own thoughts with his excellent observation and writing
skills. (The papers contained too much ostentation and in a few cases truths
were compromised.) There he found a joy and dream as a journalist. His
writing was beautiful and full of life just like poems. His investigations
went straight to the heart of the matter and appealed to conscientious
When I discovered my first new comet 1961f in October 1961,
the first person who came to see me was Mr. Y. At that time he was running
his own small newspaper company. During the meeting with me he continued
to write while thanking me for everything I said. His sentences did not
show any exaggerations and ostentations. He reported faithfully what I
intended to say. His own unique thoughts about the meeting impressed the
I sometimes wonder: When you face the end of your life filled
with pretension and hypocrisy and look back on your life, would you be
content? Mr. Y, who held to his principles and fearlessly lived with honesty
in spite of unfortunate circumstances, would see his life as a fruitful
and happy one. In a sense he is the happiest person of all.
A few days ago, Mr. Y stopped by casually on a bicycle riding
from 33 Earth Street. Due to hardships his hair was grey, but his eyes
staring at the scandalous aspect of the society is sharp and penetrating.
The moment he saw me, however, with gGood morning, Seki-san!h these eyes
changed to truly gentle and peaceful eyes.
When two people live their lives looking at beautiful things,
their minds sometimes lead them to a lively conversation somewhat philosophical,
about the the stars, literature, and life. Genjiro Yoshida, an author of
the past years, wrote something to the effect: gThis world is full of evils.
If I try to live decently I will feel suffocated. However, as long as there
is one good person in this world, I want to be a good person myself.h When
I am with Mr. Y, strangely I feel I have become genuinely a good person
forgetting about the revolting things and contradictions in the world.
Mr. Y regards me with respect and seems to overestimate me. He wrote the
following poem for me:
I dedicate this poem to you, wishing you good health and happiness.
Segoviafs tremolo of love
Twinkling stars of a love-struck heart
Keep on strumming eternally
Transcending place and time
Immersed in your endeavor like no-one else
Poetsf ways of thinking is incredible. Seemingly unrelated
occurrences in different dimensions are securely connected in their minds.
Segovia and stars are, at a glance, are unrelated, but Minor Planet Segovia
(3822) exists @
Segovia is a Spanish-born genius of guitar. gGeniush sounds
impressive, but he learned harmony and instrumental execution by himself.
He gained the fame of a genius guitarist as the crown of his hard work.
It was at Nakanoshima Festival Hall in 1959 when I went to Segoviafs concert
for the first time. Unexpectedly, Vincent Galileifs suite was played at
the start of the program. (Vincent Galilei is Galileo Galileifs father.)
Segovia played his favorite music one after another; Bachfs Gavotte, Haydnfs
Minuet, Mendelssohnfs Songs with Words, Albenizfs Seville. For his encore
he played Recuerdos de la Alhambra in the gtremolo of loveh. @
Until that day, I had believed Segovia was a genius. In fact,
his ideas were those coming from geniuses and his guitar techniques were
perfect, without any flaws whatsoever. I thought geniuses were created
only by God, completely forgetting about individualsfefforts.
That night, I happened to be staying at the hotel where Segovia
was staying and I wanted to visit him in his room after the concert was
over. For many years I had been dreaming of seeing the great guitarist
Segovia playing. I was overwhelmed by a thought of the realization of my
dream and wanted his autograph. If possible at all, I wanted to shake that
very hand which strummed incredible sounds. While I was walking along the
scarlet-colored hallway with the concert program in hand, something unexpected
happened. As I got closer to his room, I heard the faint sound of a guitar.
It was surely the sound of guitar. As if it were not played right, the
same phrase was played again and again just like learners would practice.
Is it what the great guitarist Segovia doing? He is just like us, isnft
he? I couldnft believe my ears. He had just finished his first concert
in Japan. You would expect he would take a bath leisurely to rest his body
and restore his exhausted energy. Instead, he was already practicing intensely
for the next goal. I felt I glimpsed real Segovia. (Segovia, after all,
was just a human. Genius is something to be created by onefs hard work!)
I froze in the dimly lit hallway and listened to the sounds of his guitar
for a long time.
I experienced the same thing when I first met the comet hunter
Mr. Ikeya. It was amazing that he had successively discovered comets for
5 years beginning in 1963. If you look at someonefs achievements, they
appear so easily made. And, you may think it is just luck or because of
his genius, forgetting about the personfs efforts and hard work. When I
actually met him, I learned that his ways of comet search are truly creative
independent of any other search method and that his achievements are the
result of overcoming bad luck, exhausting efforts, and perseverance. He
devoted far more hours and hard work to his search than I did, although
I was senior to him chronologically. I have met several successful comet
hunters, but this observation of Mr. Ikeya has never changed.
One late autumn day, 35 years after Andre Segoviafs concert,
I visited a musical instrument store in Kanda, Tokyo. There displayed was
the guitar Ramirez, Segoviafs favorite guitar. I looked at it with deep
interest thinking that this was the instrument which had mesmerized many
listeners across Europe for many decades. The surface of the guitar turned
dark brown showing signs of long and frequent service. There were also
many marks and scratches. I took it up and pluck the strings, but this
ancient instrument didnft make any sound perhaps because I wasnft its master.
Being curious, I checked the label inside the guitar. Surely the label
read gMade in 1955 by Ramirezhand signed by him. At the 1959 Osaka concert,
Segovia used a renowned Hermann Hauser. Soon after, Segoviafs favorite
guitar became a Spanish guitar Ramirez. There is no reason that this guitar
I had tried to play did not make a sound. I had listened to his numerous
recorded performances and been moved by the enhanced beauty of the sounds
and power. Having lost its renowned master Segovia, it stopped to make
any sound. After all, what is important is the performer on the instrument,
not the instrument itself. If Segovia was alive and continued to play,
this instrument would keep generating beautiful sounds.
The same will be true with the world of astronomy. Even if
a good observatory is built with a large telescope, without good observers
and operators it will become an observatory of little significance. For
the purpose of astronomy education or just public viewing, very large telescopes
are not necessary. In recent years, large aperture telescopes have been
built as if competing with each other for apertures. It is an amazing development
for us searchers of Solar System objects. News of large telescopes having
been built does not make us anxious, but the emergence of good observers
does. The reason is that excellent observers can do a good job even with
relatively small telescopes. The important thing is the users of the telescope
and their hard work. We should not be preoccupied with large apertures.
Instead, we should make efforts to train good observers or acquire capable