"Yes," he said. "Sometimes there is too much."
"Will you tell me about Kokichi Tsuburaya?"
He sighed. "Yes, there were many pressures on Tsuburaya. He came from a small town in the north, Sukagawa City in Fukushima Prefecture. There is only a cigarette factory there. The city had nothing to be proud of except Tsuburaya. There were signs on the buildings that said TSUBURAYA is OUR PRIDE. When he won the bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics, there was a great celebration. Everyone said, 'In Mexico, the gold.'
"Tsuburaya was in the Japan Self-Defense Forces. He was in the department of training, a leader with responsibilities. In our tradition, the leader is always the best. The JSDF is very strict and insists on training hard, hard, hard. There is no limit. My own sister trained with other women to challenge U.S. guns with bamboo poles.
"This tradition has been carried on by the JSDF and influenced Tsuburaya. He trained so hard that he injured his Achilles' tendon. His commanders wanted the honor he would win, so he was not permitted to rest. For a year he ran poorly.
"In 1967 he committed suicide by slashing his wrists. He left a simple note to his mother. It said, 'I can't run any farther.' "
I asked how his death affected the Japanese.
"We were sorry."
"Were people sympathetic, or did they think he was crazy?"
"He was not insane. We could understand. We were just sorry he had no friend or leader who could guide him. He had a heavy burden. We criticized his JSDF captain. We said, 'Why didn't you help Tsuburaya?' He said only, 'We never let up." "