I'd like to talk about some things Tsuriko mentioned in her report on the tour website. She had to choose her words carefully as it's a public site, but here I can be more direct.
At the end of last year, my kneecap finally gave out after 6 years of problems. I decided to have it operated on as soon as the Countdown Live concerts were over, then undergo rehabilitation during the time off, and return to the stage later in the year without making things public until later on. I've always preferred to keep things like this to myself, and this was no exception. Hospital appointments were made, and a date set for the operation. I saw the New Year in happily, and the operation took place without incident.
Foolishly, I allowed myself to relax at that point.
I don't want to go into too much detail about the last few months, but suffice it to say that I'm still learning to live with my knee, day in day out. In all honestly I should probably stop performing on stage as I do, but that isn't something I am prepared to contemplate.
Just before this year's tour began I received a second blow - my hearing started to deteriorate further. My semicircular canals had blown, and I was experiencing crippling dizziness. I wasn't able to walk in a straight line, and was often reduced to vomiting in the restroom at the rehearsal studio. I tried to put a brace face on things, but was told after various hearing tests that my right ear (which had been working overtime to compensate for my deaf left ear) was weakening fast. I don't have a clear memory of my journey home after that. I just remember wondering how I, as a singer, would cope with two useless ears. Other than that, I was in darkness.
I've written a lot, but let me finish with this.
A certain somebody sent me a message on LINE at Yokohama Arena. It read as follows:
"You're the real deal, so pull yourself together! It makes us mad because we care about you. We all - every last one of us - want to be a part of your show!"
It was a slap in the face, but it brought me to my senses. Not out of any sense of responsibility or duty; but on a much deeper level, I managed to find myself. That night, I found my way back to being Ayumi Hamasaki.
The stage is where I belong. It's the only place I really, truly exist. I don't know anything else. There's no point in worrying about what lies ahead. I will keep listening, even if I can't hear. I will keep moving, evening if I can't move. I'm not looking for sympathy or pity. I will hold my head high and keep going forward until my last breath.
Next is Yoyogi! I'm looking forward to seeing your smiles