Hiroyuki Nishigaki, 252 pages

Published 2000 by the Writer's Showcase Press

Copyright 2000 by Hiroyuki Nishigaki

A note: because so much of the interest which people have in this book focuses on the author's peculiar grasp of English, I feel that paraphrasing will be less useful than direct quotation, hence the unusually large amount of quotation in this writeup.

How to Good-bye Depression is a self-help novel, written by Mr. Hiroyuki Nishigaki. It explains, in some of the most tortured Engrish known to man, how to improve your life using simple, repetitive exercises, mostly involving rhythmic muscle contraction. In addition, the book has attained technically international fame through several Internet subcultures.

I recently received a gift card to Borders. Being an Internet geek, I was very excited when I found out that it could be used in a limited subset of Amazon.com, and not just in a physical store. I was even more excited when I realized that I could live out my fantasies and buy this book.

Everybody was happy to hear that I had made this decision, with the exception of those friends who had not been introduced to this wonderful book. Everybody was guessing what the book would actually be like — what kind of publisher would actually approve this sort of thing? Speculation ran rampant. I began to dream of becoming a miniature celebrity on Everything2 — the guy who actually bought How to Goodbye Depression.

A couple of days later, it arrived, early I might add. My theory is that the stars wanted to make sure that I could begin denting my navel as quickly as possible. I forced my coworkers to listen to the back of the book until I was shouted down, and put it aside until later. That night, I attempted to read it.

The book is…odd. Odd in that I'm not entirely sure whether we are playing a joke on Mr. Nishigaki or he on us. The first half of the book is composed out of Usenet correspondence between the him and a number of Internet people to whom he tried to propose his ideas. The second is an in-depth exploration of technique. My confusion stems from the fact that nearly every single one of the Usenet conversations quoted consists of Mr. Nishigaki being mocked by a random person, and then completely misinterpreting the tone of the message and responding enthusiastically. With some of the messages in the book, it's hard to believe that the author is a real person, and not some guy, pretending to be an Engrish speaker, playing an ironic metajoke on the Internet.

In addition, I have become convinced that I am, in fact, the only person on the Internet who has actually read this book. Most everywhere I have gone to find out more information on the book is the same set of quotations from the back of this book and the author's other self-help book (Rejuvenation and Unveiled Hidden Phenix: Carlos Castaneda Shamanism Plus a After His Death). I'm also convinced that many of the people on Amazon who claim to have read have not — the book is more a dedicated exercise in lunacy than a funny read, and opening the book to a random page to find some yuks will more likely than not to find poor Nishigaki being berated by some yo-yo who happened to be hanging out on Usenet at the wrong time.

Poking into this reveals mystery after mystery. The Writer's Showcase Press is no more than five or six years old, if the listings of their published works which I have found are accurate. As for Nishigaki himself, here is what he has to say about himself:

From How to Good-bye Depression:

Hiroyuki Nishigaki, a graduate of Osaka City University in 1963, resides in Japan. He was employed by the Kyodo News Agency until 1976. He is the author of four books in Japanese, including How to Attain Silent Knowledge, and the author of one book in English — Rejuvenation and Unveiled Hidden Phenix.

From Rejuvenation and Unveiled Hidden Phenix:

Nishigaki, a graduate of Osaka City University in 1963, resides in Japan. He was employed by the Kyodo News Agency until 1976. He is the author of four books in Japanese, including How to Attain Silent Knowledge. A female inorganic ally gave the author the ability of space travel at age of 10 and 56. His first space travel was at the age of 56.

Nishigaki has been practicing his technique for 20 years, and claims that he looks significantly younger than his current age of 68. He is also fond of speaking about a man in his mid-70s who, having used the technique for 20 years, looks 20 years younger, and still has fire in his loins.

Nishigaki also maintains a website (http://hometown.aol.com/hnishigaki/index.htm), which unfortunately is quite dense with information and difficult to navigate. However, I was able to turn up a few tidbits about the advantages of the methods that Mr. Nishigaki has discovered.

"According to some German doctor, three biggest causes of cancer are unhappy childhood, keeping own feelings under and suffering from the stress of complaints (against other sex, son or daughter, parents, boss, money, work or post and so on) for more than 3 years. If you have not practiced a way to burn the fire from within, these causes can make the fire of your abdomen go out so that you have lost joy, become cynical. As a result, your body can not emit strong beautiful energy so that you have bad complexion, look older and have colder sticky numb part of your body. Cancer prefers only colder sticky numb part of your body and grows there suddenly."
"It is difficult to explain 2 other benefits humorously, but I dare to say 'It can give good pliers to American woman. It can sharply decrease the rate of divorce in America, so it can contribute to American boy's and girl's happiness.' "
"…I have written about my space travels as a psychic astronaut because Mr.Carlos Castaneda seemed not to be able to have ventured out to the universe so that he had not written about his space travel in his 12 books. If you want become not only healthy-happy-efficient but also another astronaut or phenix, you had better read and imagine my space travel of my book so many time that your assemblage point (like a brightened egg) can move to the interior of your body and make you fly into the universe."

So here are my conclusions about this book:

  1. Hiroyuki Nishigaki is probably a real person, and not a robot from the future.
  2. People on Usenet are jerks.
  3. There is validity to Nishigaki's "butt-squeezing" method, but it probably won't let you launch yourself into space. In fact, he's probably referring to Kegel exercise, which is actually really good for you. It improves male sexual performance, lessens the pain of childbirth, and strengthens sexual feeling for everybody.
  4. I am the only person on Everything2 who has actually read it.
  5. Engrish is funny, but laughing at Engrish makes you feel like a bad person after a while.