Real Western > Rodeo > Japanese Rodeo Cowboys > Jin'ichiro Shibahara

Chasing The Dream

Written by Jin'ichiro Shibahara

2007 season

Nov 6, 2007 - Here I go again

The green of the trees that was so deep has finally begun to turn to colors of autumn. The hot summer has past, giving way to rather comfortable days.

This summer was busy in a different way than summers past. Working six days a week, finding time to hit the gym three times a week and meeting with various people in between all that. Brought on by over-work, at the end of September, exhaustion struck suddenly, knocking me most ungraciously on my ass while at work. Nothing serious came of it, but it sure made me realize I'm no longer at an age where I can push myself like that.

There were a lot of things that made me believe there must have been some purpose to my return this time. I became suddenly and busily engaged with a couple production companies at the end of June. It seems they had learned of me through this web site, and were interested in during some stories on me. I met with some of their people, talked a while with them, and things progressed well to where a couple project proposals were put together and shopped around. I can't say which television programs showed interest in the projects just yet, but I'm defiantly getting a warm feeling from a few of them.

I also met someone through a friend who has offered to help me find sponsors. Just having met him is a big gain in my book. Up until now, I really hadn't put much effort into looking for sponsors; okay, so I hadn't tried at all. There's no denying that sponsors would help a great deal, but I had always wanted to try and make it on my own, so, I would rodeo ‘till the money was gone, go back to Japan, work my but off and save, and rodeo some more. Besides, I haven't accomplished anything yet that would make me worth sponsoring. But, according to this guy I met through my friend, "There is worth in the fact that you have continued on your own for so long. Besides, you're risking your life every time." Now that I think about it, as unfortunate as it may be, I am the only Japanese seriously engaged in this sport called bull riding. So, I have begun to think that maybe some companies may see a worth in me being "the one and only" as it were. However, my acquaintance has also warned me that, "Being the sport that it is, it has its difficulties. It will take some time." I guess I'll just have to wait.

And then there's Wrangler. As was announced here on Real Western, I have been hired to write a syndicated blog for the Japanese branch of the jeans company. My reports to this site tend to be irregular, but no such leniency with Wrangler. I have to turn in monthly reports, and yes, I have due dates I have to meet also. Here on Real Western, my writings have centered mainly around rodeo, the results of my rides and the before and after events that take place in such a life, and I intend to keep writing about that here. However, for Wrangler, I am aiming my reports at a wider audience, with a broader content. It is my hope that by reading both, readers will gain a better, deeper understanding of the world of rodeo and bull riding.

And of course, there's Real Western; they have graciously agreed to become my first official sponsor (Applause please!) They have been kind enough up to now, to offer me a place to report on what I have been doing over the years, and thanks to them, I have been able to meet a lot of people I otherwise may not have met. And it is because of the support I get from so many people that I am able to keep doing what I do. I thank you all.

This year, as last year, I continued training in Japan at the "Morinaga Weider Training Lab" in Tokyo. I want to say thanks to my personal trainer, Ms. Koga, who always put together such a great training program for me, Mr. Masumoto for his always on-target advise, Ms. Masuko, the dietician, Mr. Maruyama who kept a close watch on my physical condition, and all of the other staff members who were always encouraging me. Thank you all so much.

This summer, I was privileged to work aboard the ship-board restaurant, "Funasei." Even though I only worked on the boat for four short months, they were kind enough to throw me a farewell party on my last day. I thank the company president, the ship's boss, the chief cook, the kitchen staff, the eight sailors their assistance, the administrative staff and the other staff members I worked with aboard the boat; thank you so much. I have never named the places where I worked in the past, but I had to make an exception this time.

And, there is one other person I must thank, even though she has no involvement with bull riding; "Angela Aki." I just happened to have the T.V. on, and I saw her for the first time in a commercial she was in. I didn't know anything about her at that time, but it didn't take long for me to be engulfed in her music. Her songs echo deep in the bowels of my soul. I don't listen to much Japanese music, but she is without a doubt my favorite, and I will be taking her two albums with me to the U.S.

November 6th, I return to my other home, Utah. There aren't many rodeos left this season, but I plan to enter all that I can; the results of which will be forthcoming right here, so stay tuned.

Jin'ichiro Shibahara

= Post Script=

Before I headed off to the U.S., I took about two weeks to travel around and visit family and old friends. I hadn't planned to ride any horses on this trip, but my uncle took me to a place called "Sonny's Stable" near the Onuma National Park in Hokkaido; and let me tell you, Sonny is as real a cowboy as they come. The way he lives his life, how he treats his horses, and more than anything, his "cowboy spirit" was as sublime as any cowboy I've met on any ranch in the U.S. or Canada. I could have stayed and talked for hours with Mr. Yukio Sato, but my schedule prevented me from staying as long as I would have liked. Even though I was only able to stay a short while, his wife was most attentive to me, and I thank her. Next time I plan to sit by an open flame with coffee in hand, staring out at Komagaoka Mountain, under a sky filled with stars, and just let time pass idly by as I lend an ear to the stories he has to tell....

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