It is not really a secret story, but when my father was a high school student, he gained a reputation as the secret leader of the group of juvenile delinquents. No way! It was a heroic story hard to believe for me who had a peaceful student life. However, seems like it is not a made-up tale of my father but a true story. Everyone who knows about my father in his youth all say, “nobody could beat him.”
Urushiyama area in former Maki Town (now, combined to Niigata city), where the ADA head office located, is my father’s hometown. “Long time ago, Urushiyama was notorious for delinquent youths. When we heard someone was going to get married with a person in Urushiyama, we were worried,” my aunt told me. My father’s older brothers, Kahboh and Ya’chan, were the leader of the group of delinquent teenagers and the third one, Tah, was the secret leader. That’s not something to joke about—they were indeed scary brothers. Even my uncle, who used to be the leader says, “Tah was incredibly strong. I wondered where he got that toughness from his skinny boy.” My father, also known as Tah, who had the strength that even his older brother admits. It seems like my father has left several legends known to those in the know. One of them is “The Battle against Nakanokuchi.”
It was when my father was 15 years old and attending Urushiyama junior high school. While he showed serious side of him belonging to the biology club and devoting himself to study about fish, what made him outstanding were his daring words and actions. Nevertheless, he didn’t rebel against teachers without right reasons (for unknown reasons, he was rather liked by teachers), or he was not a naughty one who got into trouble with police. He was also different to a typical delinquent teenager who tried to show self-assertion by making a bluff. He simply jumped into whatever attracted him without hesitation, even if it happened to be in conflict with a school policy. His abandon nature to enjoy freedom and having fun made him standing out from other students. Furthermore, he earned some respect from people for the strength that he had never lost fight.
In the same class, there was one troublemaker who was different type to my father. His nickname was Itsu and he was a typical Japanese delinquent teenager. He dyed his hair blond, browbeat other students showing evil-looking face intentionally, and walked down a hallway arrogantly. Older students had his or her eye on him, and his classmates disliked him. One day my father heard the rumor that Itsu ventured into the group of bad boys of Nakanokuchi junior high school, the biggest rival to the ones of Urushiyama. My father was amazed at Itsu’s foolishness to get into there alone. Soon Itsu came to my father with his face covered with bruises. “Hey Takashi! I had flung down a challenge to them. I told them that I come back with you. We will have a five-on-five fight!” Although my father thought Itsu had gotten out of line, being strong-minded, he was in.
On the agreed date, five of them, my father and Itsu along with three other boys, went to the foot of the bridge where the battle was going to be happening. As promised, five boys came from the Nakanokuchi group, and a boy seemingly a leader was standing in the middle. When both group were facing and threating each other, all of a sudden, more than ten boys appeared from behind the bridge. “Shit! They cheated on us!” Against the unexpected attack, Itsu and the three boys got in a funk and tried to run away, but it was too late. Five boys from Urushiyama were, of course, defeated completely. However, my father was not a person to leave him defeated and just withdraw. He stood up against the Nakanokuchi group alone. “Hey you guys! Shame on you! Breaking a promise is not manly. Where is the leader? I fight with you and decide which one is stronger!!” Being triggered by my father who tried to face the battle by himself, the leader of Nakanokuchi stepped out. While everybody was watching them, the one-on-one battle started. In a blink of an eye, my father won. His strength was sweeping. The Nakanokuchi boys were impressed by the strength of my father, even though he was their rival and their leader had lost. The leader of Nakanokuchi liked my father’s braveness and told him ”Let’s eat Ramen together. It’s on me.” Since Ramen is my father’s favorite food, he was pleased to accept the offer. Those bad boys in dusty ragged clothes had Ramen together, restored the feud, and built a friendship.
After going on to high school, my father devoted himself to cycling club activity aiming to become a professional cyclist. He tried not to go onto a bloody front stage, because once he made a trouble, it would affect on his future path. Even so, the Amano three brothers were famous to be strong, and especially my father, who earned respect of others, got invitations from various places. One day, the leader of Nakanokuchi came to visit my father politely. Surprisingly, he wanted to get my father’s permission to name himself as the leader of Niigata prefecture. My father laughed and told him, “Do whatever you want. But don’t come to my high school. If you do, I don’t have any choice but to do that again.” Thus, the leader of Nakanokuchi became a leader of Niigata prefecture, and my father, the secret boss.
The time travels from the past to present day. I met Itsu. It seemed like the man, whose appearance was grimmer than my expectation, was fond of my father more than I imagined. “Takashi, I respect you.” He said that sincerely to my father.
Takashi Amano—being loved by men. He is the man of all men. His strength evolved into various form, and now travels across the world. Making other people proud of him—it is the true heroic story, isn’t it?
text & illustration by Sayuri Amano
English translation by Megumu Ogata