I was born and raised in Wakayama City, but after I moved to Tokyo at the end of my 24th birthday, I didn’t think much about my hometown. However, in recent years, whenever I visit Wakayama for events, I think, ‘What a nice place I’ve lived.’ The mountains are deep and green, there are several beautiful rivers such as the Kino River and the Arita River flowing through the prefecture, and there are famous hot spring resorts such as Nanki-Shirahama. The coastline is also very scenic, and the vegetables, fruits, and fish are all delicious. Unfortunately, however, it is not so well known throughout the country. So I decided to do something to help my hometown, even a little.
Says lyricist Neko Oikawa, 62. She has written more than 10,000 songs, including “Lonely Tropical Fish” for Wink, which won the Record Award in 1989, and “Tokyo,” a big hit by Kajin Yashita. Anime fans are probably familiar with “Neon Genesis Evangelion” theme song “Zankoku na Tenshi no Thesis,” which has become a standard karaoke song.
Last October, Oikawa made headlines when she moved her private office from Tokyo to the “Tanabe City Ryujin Gomisan Sky Tower,” a roadside station in Ryujin Village, Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture.
Oikawa said, “The reason is that by doing this, taxpayers’ money will go to Wakayama Prefecture and Tanabe City.”
This spring, the “Oikawa Neko Library” was also opened in the 2nd floor lounge of the same “Tanabe City Ryujin Gomisan Sky Tower.” It contains about 3,000 nonfiction books, manga, photo collections, etc., and 1,000 CDs. Ms. Oikawa is such an avid reader that every year since 2005, she has given the “Oikawa Someko Award” to the most interesting nonfiction book she has read in a year.
“There are various prizes for novels, but few for nonfiction,” she says. “I also want to shine a light on a field where people spend years researching but are not rewarded for their hard work. The awards are not based on the power of the publishers, but rather on my own personal viewpoint, which is that this is the nonfiction book I genuinely like.”
Sada Ogawa, the representative of Ryujin Heart, a local revitalization group that operates a roadside station, said.
Sada Ogawa, a representative of “Ryujin Heart,” a local revitalization group that operates the roadside station, said, “Dr. Somie not only comes by herself, but also brings many people with her, regardless of their fame or notoriety. Of course, everyone pays for their own transportation and lodging. Some of them have come many times since then. Dr. Sleeko always says that in order to transmit culture from the countryside and revitalize the local community, it is important to increase the number of people involved. She considers the “Oikawa Someko Bunko” to be a test bed for her ideas, and would like to continue to experiment with what to do next, including with the local people.
Tanabe City in Wakayama Prefecture is also known as the site of the mysterious death of Kosuke Nozaki, a wealthy man known as “Kishu no Don Juan,” which occurred in May 2006. In fact, Oikawa also has this unforgettable story to tell.
When I boarded a plane from Haneda to Nanki-Shirahama in June 2018, I saw Mr. Ryotaro Sugi (Ryotaro Sugi) in the front seat, and I thought there must be a concert somewhere. There was also a young lady with long hair and good style sitting a little in front of Mr. Sugi. And when we arrived at Shirahama Airport, there were many reporters at the exit. As I passed through the exit, I heard a voice saying, “Here he comes! and there was a flurry of excitement. And they were not following Mr. Sugi, but that woman with long hair. I learned that she was the young wife of the Don Juan of Kishu.”
In 2005, Oikawa married a Turkish 18 years younger than herself. Her husband often asked her for money, and she eventually made headlines when she confessed that she was saddled with a large debt. The story is described in detail in her book, “Marriage Breakup: 13 Years with a Turkish Husband 18 Years Younger.”
“I already had hit songs and was well known in Turkey, so my husband often tried to use that to pull in money. As a result, during the 13 years we were together, we spent 300 million yen, and when we divorced, we were 70 million yen in debt.”
In a TV variety show she appeared on a few years ago, she revealed that her annual income was more than 30 million yen each year and that she still has a constant stream of Eva-related income. Still, she laughs that taking on debt was painful and that she has only recently been able to get out of it.
To others, it may seem like I was cheated by a terrible man, but to me, it’s been a very interesting 13 years.
After a tumultuous life, Oikawa has awakened a love for her hometown of Wakayama. She has awakened a love for her hometown, Wakayama, after a tumultuous and eventful life.
I want to make Wakayama a cultural center. In the future, I would be happy if it could be positioned as a multifaceted place that is not just a tourist destination, such as by building an intellectual property library where visitors can see scores by musicians and original drawings by manga artists, or by producing movies set in Ryujinmura and Nanki-Shirahama.
The active involvement of prominent figures such as Oikawa will be a catalyst for the advancement of regional development.