A friend comes with a fresh wind


Our ambassador, Keita Kurakami, suffered cardiac arrest while climbing Mt. Fuji and passed away. He was a valuable friend of mine, Mitsuo, with whom I could seriously discuss hopelessly silly ideas, and a climber who was supposed to make new history in the world climbing scene, surprising and exciting people.

It's only been two days since the incident, and to be honest, it doesn't really feel real at all. Still, it's been covered in various news outlets, and I've been reading everyone's posts on social media, and I'm feeling so shaken up that I can't stop sweating, but little by little, no, that's not true. I guess it doesn't go well when I start writing a blog.

I have regretted these 40 hours. He was a good friend and rival to me. There were so many things I wanted to tell him but couldn't. I had been thinking that I would tell him someday, when I could make him proud, when I could make things more concrete, but the opportunity was lost without me being able to tell him anything. I will never be able to heal this regret, and I will regret it for the rest of my life.

It's so painful that I started writing about my memories of Tokyo Powder and Keita in an attempt to fill in the good memories and distract myself, but it has already made my heart ache several times more. Please forgive me if the writing is poorly formatted.

I don't mind it getting long. I haven't known him for that long, and I think the first time I met him was at the Rock You! competition in Niigata Prefecture, where I went to play after hearing that Gen Hirashima was going to be performing. It must have been around 2010-11. He must have heard rumors that I was into the saxophone at the time, and he was a saxophone player, and with the same unique, refreshing friendliness that he has now, he recommended some reeds to me. I think he was still a university student. After that, we became friends, and he would come to stay at my house or hang out at the gym, but when I think back to that time, I feel like we would talk about delusional things and have serious discussions whenever we met.

After that, he went to Kansai as a researcher. I moved my gym to a larger base to do what I wanted, and I spent my days making and trying new things with chalk sets. One day, when we were talking about chalk, we found out that the ceramics he was researching and developing were very similar to the chalk processing, and from then on, he participated in many discussions about the properties of various reagents, how to process them, the types of machines and their selection, etc.

He moved to Lost Arrow and became a sales representative for Scarpa, so he was always checking out my gym, and I would have him accompany me on the trial and testing of chalk every time. When he came, I would drop all my work at the gym, and I would leave everything to the staff because I couldn't do anything else today. It feels like just the other day that we were discussing things in front of the store from midnight when the store closed until late at night. Our discussions usually started with trivial topics, but became increasingly abstract, such as the fundamentals of climbing philosophy and movement, the history and future of the industry, people, and sensibilities, and we would plunge into the darkness where we could not see the future. In the end, we would usually end up agreeing that the world is truly mysterious, and that feeling that mystery is what makes us emotional, and we would both be satisfied. By the way, it was he who introduced me to a book by Kiyoshi Oka called Mathematics is Emotion, which has now become the bible in our house.

The history of Tokyo Powder's chalk is mostly a history of our interactions with him. He tested the improvements to Pure, the development and completion of Black, the improvements to the manufacturing process of Boost, the prototype of React, various liquid chalks, mysterious solids, and chalks from other manufacturers in various weather conditions and conditions on rocky areas, and compiled the results into reports. By the time RX and V3 were completed, he had achieved a feat that was beyond our reach, but he continued to test and send us regular reports. He was truly devoted to us, and always appeared with a refreshing wind. This is true, whether it was raining or snowing, there was always a refreshing wind blowing.

Around the same time that we incorporated and became independent as Tokyo Powder, he also came to tell us that he had left Lost Arrow and was going to be a professional climber. At that time, Tokyo Powder decided to fully support him and we signed a sponsorship contract. Until then, we had been just friends, and I remember being very happy that I could finally repay him for all the support he had given me.

At that time, Gen Hirashima was at the forefront of the world in both name and reality, so much so that he was relied upon to set routes for the World Cup. After it was decided that I would support Keita, I reported it to Gen, and I will never forget what he said to me: "Who could have imagined we would end up in such a situation back then?" Being able to support these two guys is the thing I am most proud of in my life.

Shortly after Keita became independent, he came to visit our company as usual, his eyes lit up, and he said, "There's something I really wanted to show you, Mitsuo-san," and he brought out a Shakuhachi Japanese traditional bamboo flute. Ah, it's such a good memory. I've been playing the Australian folk instrument called Didgeridoo as a hobby for about 10 years, and I like collecting slightly unusual instruments, so I don't know if I didn't get a good reaction from other people when I showed them the shakuhachi, but I feel like I was excitedly talking about how he encountered the Shakuhachi and how good it was that day. Yes, I was completely influenced, and I visited the shop where he was learning Shakuhachi at the foot of Shosenkyo in Kofu, and I ended up getting the Shakuhachi from his teacher.

Even now, the depth of the Shakuhachi culture is completely unfathomable, but when I think about it, it really is the perfect instrument for him, who finds emotion in the world's chaos and wonder. I think of it more as a ritual instrument than as an instrument. For him, the Shakuhachi was music and climbing. The Shakuhachi has become very important to me. After hearing the news of his death, I spent my time playing the Shakuhachi to calm myself down. I really think of him every time I play a note. Actually, I don't want to think about it, but various things come to mind, such as conversations with him, realizations I want to tell him, and feelings I want to ask him. I'm sure he would never say, "Mitsuo, you need to train hard," but would say, "The act of trying to keep a calm mind is training in itself."

There are really too many things around me that are connected to him. Even now, I feel like his car is parked outside and a fresh wind is coming in through the window. Even before we talk about our recent situations, we get excited and start talking about what we want to talk about. I'm glad I wrote this blog today after all. The time I spend with him is truly irreplaceable to me. I have a Shakuhachi. I can't hear his sound now, but I can imagine it. He's always one or two steps ahead of me, always questioning things, and looking ahead and enjoying them. That much I know.

Of course, without him, I wouldn't be who I am today, let alone the climbing scene. I have no talent for climbing, I'm not physically strong, I don't fit in with usual society, and I'm a hopeless person who can't be honest with myself, but even so, with the many opportunities to choose, I was able to take risks, believe in something, and act, and that was a big part of Keita's existence. He always praised me. I never took it at face value, but it was still a great source of support for me.

I still can't accept it at all, but I'm sure it will continue to be that way. This hole will never be filled. Continuing to regret may be my test. Keita really liked a hard situation and training. I had a book on traditiona breathing that I wanted to teach him.

t's no good after all, I'm so frustrated.