October 16, 2014

Since I last wrote here, I’ve been to Japan. I know, right?!

It was a crazy lead-up to departure; the usual gigs plus frantically getting tracks together for the new Dracula’s show which opens October 22nd, as well arranging and recording backing vocals for the new Ráv Thomas single (which surely must be coming out any day now.) So, like, nutso workload. Nevertheless, all of a sudden I was thankfully on the other side of it, and Lo, Jade (the manager of Dressed To Chill (Australia’s only acoustic KISS tribute show)) and I found ourselves in the Qantas business lounge at Tullamarine awaiting our flight to Tokyo.

After an early arrival on Thursday, we spent our first day wandering the streets looking through massive record stores (remember those?) and enormous guitar shops. That night, we saw a band called GOTTHARD. They’re from Switzerland, and while really nobody here knows who they are, they’ve been around since the early 90’s. And I seriously like ’em! Great melodies, instantly hooky without being cheesy at all, and tight as. A Melbourne muso compatriot joined them a few years ago; Nic Maeder is is his name, and a nicer guy you’d be hard-pressed to encounter. (In fact, I think the very last time I saw Nic was the night he got the news that he’d scored the GOTTHARD vocalist gig. And the venue (and night) at and upon which I saw him was the very gig I now do on a Friday night with SammyV; how funny.) The show was awesome, the venue was really great – just a perfect set-up – and Nic set us up with free tix and backstage passes, which a nice bonus. Afterwards a few of us went out to what appeared to be an all-night sushi bar and got… ummm… slightly rowdy. A fun day and night all ’round.

Although Typhoon Phanfone thwarted our plans for a day/overnight trip to Kyoto – or even more so for me, a place called Nikko which is home to the Toshogu temple, the Kegon waterfall and Chuzenji lake – we had an absolute blast. Much beer was consumed, and fab meals too, although it was surprisingly difficult to get vegetarian food. I got by though, and I think Jade’s well on her way to going vego too. Onya, Jadels!

I’m a bit of a gallery nutter, and we saw a wonderful exhibition by Lee Mingwei (check it out here: Mori Art Museum) in a magnificent gallery space situated on the 53rd floor of a skyscraper. Of course. After the gallery, we went up to observation deck above – incredible, gasp-inspiring views over the whole of Tokyo all the way out right out to Mount Fuji. I shot some footage for a music video (for “Princess of Pleasure” – it’s apt, trust me) while I was up here, as I did many times around the city, with Jade doing her best to not get us lost while I sang away to myself, oblivious to most of what was around me. I hope it looks good when I see it back. Otherwise, just forget I mentioned it.

Jade introduced me to the joy of Cinnabon (massive custard-filled cinnamon scrolls, from Seattle of all places) and enormous sweet pretzels. Danger this way lies.

We went to Budokan – hallowed ground for fans of the Beatles, Cheap Trick, and KISS. Really very cool. That day we walked home, with multiple stops at a myriad of bars and restaurants over the course of a couple of hours. What? Two hours to walk eight kilometres? Yes! Longer, in fact. We were drunk, ok?! What of it?!

Oh, we had TWO ill-fated journeys to a particular gallery I really wanted to experience, SCAI The Bathhouse; one of those times in the teeming rain, trudging along drenched and deserted streets, alongside a giant cemetery. Far more emotive in that scenario than it was when returned in full sunlight, it was a shame it was too wet to get pictures, as it was quite “the moment”. Yup, we returned to the same area (amazing, by the way; far more a sense of “old Tokyo” than the huge buildings and neon lights of Shinjuku and Roppongi) and again, the particular gallery was closed. Nevertheless, we found a wonderful sculpture gallery belonging to an artist named Asakura Fumio. Wonderful not only for his art, but also the space in which it’s housed – his studio and home. This was the sole opportunity we had to see a real Japanese home – rice paper walls, straw matting on the floors – spectacular. And all built around a central oasis; enormous Koi in the water and Japanese Maples stretching toward the sun above. “I want this”, was my continual refrain.

We saw live jazz, live punk and live Harajuku girls. I also got to catch up with a long-standing mate from the Adelaide days, along with his wife Shoko and delightfully happy one-year-old son Ryoya. Jason is the ONLY expat working in a music store in Tokyo; that’s quite impressive and amazing.

Such a great trip; we laughed and jostled and drank our way around the streets and stations of Tokyo, and I loved it.

See y’all back here soon. I’ll try to post some photos shortly.

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