Start Again – Yona Ishikawa

She stood on the rooftop, guitar in hand, looking like a rock star. The camera drone circled around her, like a planet orbits a star. Yona Ishikawa created that gravity, pulling you into her music, into her world.

We were on the roof with a video mission team my friend and colleague Paul Nethercott brought from Minnesota. This was the third of three Christian artists they were shooting music video for and by far the most elaborate production. The day before, they had shot at an industrial warehouse in the pouring rain. Today, the rooftop of the house they were staying in and the streets of the surrounding neighborhood.

The incredible revelation about Yona does not lie in her current state as a confident musician rocking it out in music videos on rooftops shot by a film crew from the States. It is in her backstory, when she spent ten years suffering from depression and life as hikkokomori, living as a shut-in in her home with little social interaction. It is often difficult for people who have lived through depression to share their experience with others, particularly in Japan, but Yona felt it was important to share her experience to let people know that God can transform lives, like He lifted her out of her state of depression and isolation. She even wrote a book, “Start Again” (in Japanese only) about her experience.

Though I wasn’t present for the interview, Paul explained her story to me and told me about the song we were recording the video for:

“The song we recorded with her is called Industrial Waste!  (産業廃棄物). She said that is how she felt, worthless and of no use to anyone, just garbage. However, she came to realize that God loves her just the way she is.”
You can clearly see from the photos that Yona is a changed woman. She is a musician, artist, and writer whose confidence and joy hide a very difficult and dark past that she overcame through her faith in Jesus.
Conservative estimates indicate 500,000 people are living as hikkikomori in Japan today, though the numbers likely exceed 1 million because many cases go unreported by family members of the afflicted. Millions more are suffering from some form of depression, often ending in suicide. Please pray for those in Japan who are suffering and for people like Yona to come forward to share how God transforms and heals.

One thought on “Start Again – Yona Ishikawa

  1. linda ochiai says:

    Thank you Todd for bringing this social issue into light but more important, how he can transform us into his creation. Just a small recap. My boys are attending the Japanese Immersion program and have new Teachers this year. If you have a name of an orphanage we could write notes too, I will happily pass the information on. Hope your enjoying your summer!

    Smiles,

    Linda

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