1. Long awaited trip to the US
Goro Takahashi has been devoted to American Indian culture since childhood.
Goro recalled his moment as,
"Ever since I was a child, I loved the American Indian culture and used to play American Indian-themed games. I liked it a lot."
Goro traveled to the United States for the first time at 28 years old.
"I longed to travel to the United States. Overseas travel was special at the time, and a dollar conversion was at 360 yen. But I wanted to travel there anyway. At the age of 28, I visited New York for the first time with the money I earned through making belts. When I visited the museum, I was impressed by the attire of American Indians and the tools they used; I wanted to meet them. So, I started making belts every day after returning from this trip. When I had earned enough money, I would travel back to the United States. I also made many other items besides belts, such as clothes, bags, moccasins, and other stuff I would wear myself."
On a trip to the United States in 1971, Goro had an encounter in Arizona.
He recalled the moment,
"I stopped at Flagstaff in Arizona. When a man walked toward me, he was interested in my leather bag and invited me to his store. That is how I met JED, the silversmith who is still a close friend of mine. I didn't speak English, but we hit it off right away. I learned from JED about making concho by shaping the silver dollar coin. I also learned about crafting silver accessories from him by gifting him my leather bags and belts in return. There was no monetary exchange; I bartered on his silversmith skills of silver accessories for my leather crafting skills. It is a standard habit among American Indian people. It's the connection between people that is important."
"I fell in love with the bag that Goro made himself when I saw him carrying at the outskirt of Route 66 near the town of Flagstaff, Arizona. That was the beginning of my friendship with Goro, which grew stronger quickly."
After returning to Japan, Goro began making his own silver buckle and concho for his leather belts.
Goro recited this moment,
"I made my first concho from a silver dollar coin and placed ten conchos on my belts. Then I made my own buckle. Originally, I bought the buckle and attached it to my belts. After studying in the United States, however, I started making my own buckle. I carved the leather with even more care when I made my buckle. So, my work has become even better. I also made my own tools for silver carvings from scratch. I put more effort into making each tool. It is something that I cannot let go of it. So, I decided to do the same for the products I create for the others."
Goro has deepened his relationship with American Indians after meeting JED. Not through money or power, but with simple trust and bonding. Goro, who used to only be a leather craftsman, learned silversmithing in the United States and took goro's to a new frontier.
2. The birth of goro's Feather item
Through the introduction of the Navajo tribe from JED, Goro Takahashi's horizon has broadened as a craftsman.
"JED brought me to the Navajo tribe he knew, and I made many American Indian friends."
The Navajo tribe lived in present-day New Mexico, Arizona, and Northern Mexico's wilderness areas. The Navajo tribe is the pioneer of American Indian Jewelry using turquoise and corals.
"When I traveled to New Mexico, I saw an eagle's feather in a store. I really wanted to buy it, but the owner wouldn't sell it to me because the feather had special meanings for the American Indians. However, the wife of the shopowner had agreed to exchange it for the Eagle Ring that I was wearing. I was so happy. While I was delighted to purchase the feather without spending a penny, I was most glad to make a social connection. As a result, I exchanged my ring with the feather whenever I returned to New Mexico. With the feathers I collected over the years, I made an ornament for the bonnet (an American Indian's headdress).
Goro was greatly inspired by the real eagle's feather he had received from the American Indian. This is when the Feather item, which can be said to be goro's masterpiece, was born. The pendants and rings were also made by shaping the feather.
From here, the lineup of goro's products, including arrowheads and najone, has continued to expand.
3. Lakota Family
One day after repeated trips to the US, an old acquaintance, Keiichi Kunimoto, and an expert marksman living in Los Angeles, Mark Reed, introduced Goro to an American Indian they knew. They visited the Reservation in South Dakota together and met Eddie Little Sky and his son Red Bow. This is the first encounter of Goro with the Lakota tribe. They welcomed him even though he was Japanese.
“I wanted to be an American Indian. Eddie Little Sky was the one who listened to my wish to become an American Indian and offered to take my place as my parent. His son is Bow. I became Eddie’s son, and Bow and I became brothers. Bow is a warrior. When I met him for the first time, I was scared out of my wits. He is so big that I had to look him upwards, and he has a sharp eye. But he is really kind. Once we became siblings, I understood that. Whenever I’m with Bow, he always looks at me from somewhere in the corner of his eye. In their land of South Dakota, he’s always there to protect me no matter what I’m doing there. I feel really safe. He’s always standing tall and proud, the Young Chief of the Lakota Tribe. He’s a proud, brave man.”
4. Two Eagles
Goro is an American Indian, but he is also a biker. He started riding Harleys when he was in his mid-40s.
“Harleys are very powerful, it’s just so strong. The vibration from the bike is like a living heartbeat. It’s like a horse. I also ride horses but this is like an iron horse. If I ride it, I can go anywhere. Thats how I really thought.”
Goro also owned a motorcycle called Indian, which was a competitor of Harley Davidson in the early to mid-20th century that reigned in the United States. Goro owned several Indian motorcycles in Japan and the United States.
When Goro was 50 years old, he rode alone from Los Angeles to South Dakota for the Reservation Ceremony on a red 1937 Indian Chief.
“Indian Chief is wonderful. The vibration of the bike is light and fast. It is like an Indian drum. The parts are all handmade and each piece is beautiful. It is a work of art. I felt great and kept going. It was an adventure, my first great adventure in my 50s!”
When Goro arrived at the Reservation Ceremony in South Dakota, someone has spotted him and shouted.
“It’s Goro, Goro is back. He’s back riding on the Indian!”
It was Bow Little Sky, Goro’s nonbiological brother. He is a biker too.
Every August, Goro would go there and pitch his teepee and live there for three months. Whenever he and Bow would ride their bikes side by side across the open field of South Dakota prairie, Bow would yell,
"Two Eagles. I feel as if I'm flying just above the ground. Goro, we are Two Eagle!"
5. Sturgis Motorcycle Rally
Goro participated in the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota.
The moment Goro's Indian Chief approached the main street lined with countless bikes, the atmosphere around him changed. The surrounding American bikers gave way to Goro, and they were glued to him. Some of them even said,
"He is more like an Indian than a real Indian.”
Originally known as a charismatic figure among Japanese bikers, through his travels, Goro came to be loved by bikers in the U.S. and around the world. He visited the sacred site of bikers to interact with the outlaws and gave his handmade Silver Feather to those with whom he became friends. He would decor his leather Jackets with Eagle and Feather accessories of his own and giving them one by one to his travelling companions. This idea was a unique style of Goro.
Through his bike trips, Goro has not only interacted with American Indians, but he has also expanded his social networks by meeting other American bikers.
He used the things he felt, thought, and acquired from his travels to feed his creative activities in Tokyo. In exchange for the Silver Accessory he wore, he gained a new soul.
6. Transcontinental trip in the U.S.
In 1992, Goro embarked on a journey across the American continent.
A friend of his, who at the time was the founder and editor-in-chief of a Harley-Davidson magazine, "HOTBIKE Japan," was planning the trip.
The trip would take him from Los Angeles to Milwaukee by motorcycle to attend Harley-Davidson's 90th anniversary party. After the party, he would head to New York City. It would be a two-week transcontinental trip.
Two days before the departure, when the friend shared the details of the trip to Goro, he immediately responded, "I want to go too! Take me with you!"
The friend was perplexed, but the next morning he arranged the airline tickets. He said he still remembers the way Goro dressed when he picked him up on the day of departure. His faded Levis, worn out engineer boots, crumpled flannel shirt, and homemade silver accessories hung everywhere that made noises as he walked. His jacket was a tailcoat he had made for his son's wedding, and he wore a number of pin badges on his lapel and a bowler hat that is worn by the Royal Family.
"It's Harley's 90th birthday, so I dressed up too!"
He was sure it was going to be a great trip. And so they began their journey from Los Angeles.
On the third day of their trip, Goro’s friend realized that he left the Metal Pendant, which Goro had made with his name engraving, at the resting area in the Grand Canyon. It was too far to return.
The next morning, he gathered his courage and told Goro that he had lost his pendant at the Grand Canyon.
Then Goro said,
“It's fantastic! It's the Grand Canyon. There's something I made there. If someone picks it up, they will definitely wear it. If no one finds it, it will return to the soil after thousands of years. My creation will become the soil of the Grand Canyon. It's wonderful!”
He had confidence in what he had created. The feeling that it will return to the soil over thousands of years. What a rich sense of value. Goro Takahashi's philosophy is a great asset to people.
On the fifth day, they reached the city of Milwaukee. It was filled with hundreds and thousands of bikers. There were Harleys on every street, lots of live music and events, and a huge parade of tens of thousands of cars. It was truly the world's biggest birthday party.
I went to a press conference and Willie G. Davidson was there. Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 by the brothers of William Sylvester Harley and Davidson. Willie G. is a direct grandson of the Davidson family and a Harley-Davidson iconic figure.
After shaking hands with Willie G., Goro said,
“My name is Goro. I'm here from Japan to celebrate Harley's birthday. I’m riding an Indian, but it is okay, right?"
Willie G. replied.
"Of course. Welcome to join us."
Goro took a small feather brooch from his chest that looked like a bouquet and handed it to him. Willie G attached it to his beret hat and gave Goro a big hug.
Upon leaving Milwaukee after a crazy party that lasted three full days, they arrived in New York City after three days of driving. Total distance traveled is 3400 miles = 5500 km. A journey across the continent by motorcycle. The destination of this trip was where Goro's journey to become an American Indian and Yellow Eagle has began.
DELTAone created the article contents from the following references.
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