Masuji Ono spends a lot of time reminiscing about his days as an artist. I sense that he is feeling melancholy as he remembers the better days of his past when he was an artist under Master Takeda and with his colleagues. The following quote is of Masuji Ono remembering exploring with his colleagues to find backdrops for paintings: "We lived throughout those years almost entirely in accordance with his values and lifestyle, and this entailed spending much time exploring the city's 'floating world' - the night-time world of pleasure, entertainment and drink which formed the backdrop for all our paintings"(144). In the past Ono was living in his prime days; when he was passionate about his art, making a good reputation for himself and accompanied by other similar-passioned friends. Now that Ono is no longer painting, most of his passion, which was crucially centered on his artistry, is lost.
While Masuji Ono was walking through Kawabe Park, he also thinks about Akira Sugimuru who was once one of the most influential men in the city; he was very wealthy, owned a lot of property, and had many ambitions for the city. Sugimuru planned on transforming Kawabe Park into the focus of the city's culture, enabling him to forever leave his mark on the city and its people. However, some financial difficulties arose and put a halt to the park's development: "Work on the park was well underway, it seems, when the scheme ran into terrible financial difficulties. I am not clear on the details of the affair, but the result was that Sugimuru's 'cultural centers' were never built"(134). In the prior passage is Masuji Ono thinking back on how Sugimuru failed to fulfill his ambitions. While I observed Ono remembering this event, I thought it was interesting how Sugimuru's situation slightly reflects Masuji Ono's situation, considering their identities were perhaps stripped from themselves; how Sugimuru was not able to make the mark on his city and Ono completely quit as an artist and is out of his golden days. While reading about Masuji Ono's thoughts about Sugimuru and the Kawabe Park failure, I wondered if Masuji was resonating with Sugimuru's identity crisis; but then as the novel got further into Masuji Ono's thoughts, I read, "I start to think of Sugimuru and his schemes, and I confess I am beginning to feel a certain admiration for the man. For indeed, a man who aspires to rise above the mediocre, to be something more than ordinary, surely deserves admiration, even if in the end he fails and loses a fortune on account of his ambitions"(134). As I read this passage I thought about how Ono's thoughts about Sugimuru were ironically describing himself; his current state of being on the opposite end of his prime.
I chose this image of M.C Hammer because he was once a very wealthy and successful artist, but then ended up filing for bankruptcy, living in his post-prime age, similarly to Masuji Ono's and Sugimuru's situation.