It was when I was ten years old when I first heard about Harry Potter. A family friend who used to often travel to England gave me the book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Japanese translation as my birthday present. The book was still new in Japan, and nobody really knew about it. But my family friend said it was a very popular book in England and that I would enjoy it.
I stared at the artistic book cover for a moment before opening the first page. The quality of the paper was very good and it smelled and felt very nice. Then I started reading the first chapter. It carried a dramatic atmosphere, and apparently something big had happened, but I didn’t really get what was going on. The strange couple living on a street called the Private Drive, the sudden appearance of an old man, the cat, the motor bike coming from the sky, and the constant mention of this boy called Harry – I didn’t understand it. After trying for a few days, I gave up on the book.
About a year later, I was looking for a new book to read, and I found Harry Potter sitting on my book shelf. The memory of my first day with the book was still fresh, but since I had no other book to read and because the book was physically beautiful, I decided to give it another try. This time, I finished the first chapter and moved onto the second chapter. That was when things started to feel interesting.
I couldn’t relate to the mysterious baby in the first chapter, but the skinny boy living in the cupboard under the staircase was very much relatable. Plus, he was turning eleven, and I was eleven. I felt as if I were also part of the story. Soon, I was so into the book that I couldn’t put it down. I started reading it over my breakfast, during the breaktime at school, and when the story reached a critical point, I even brought the book to the bathroom.
During the summer when I was eleven, I was practicing for a major piano contest, and every afternoon, I spent hours sitting in front of the piano practicing while my mother watched over my progress. But even when I was practicing, all I could think of was the adventure of Harry and his friends. In my mind, I would go over again and again what had happened so far and think about what would happen next. When I couldn’t resist anymore, I would announce a bathroom break to my mother, and run into the bathroom with Harry Potter hidden under my shirt. Then I would read a few more pages until my mother finally called me and pointed out that I was spending too much time in the bathroom.
That winter, the first movie of Harry Potter came out in Japan, and all my friends became crazy about Harry Potter series. Some of them even purchased Harry Potter items and hosted an official Harry Potter Party at home, to which I was also invited. It was a remarkable period of my life when I not only became so passionate about something, but also that enthusiasm was shared with all my friends regardless of where they lived.