07-17-2004
Tokyo, Japan, O-Nest
 
Breakfast this morning was a pastry and an iced mocha at a Tully's down the street from our hotel. Fell in love with a woman who came in after me and gave me the nicest smile, but I wasn't up to what's become a substantial challenge: I can get out "konichiwa," but then it all falls apart. Still, you got to try. You're only young once. And even if once was long ago, you've still got to try.

This is going to be a challenging recap. We've spent two nights in Osaka and one night in Tokyo, played two shows, eaten so much food (more about the food later), been taken care of like I would never have thought possible... it's overwhelming. I don't know that I could prepare myself for this world, for the courtesy and earnest enthusiasm of our hosts, for the secure feeling on any street at any time of day or night, for the remarkably appealing women that crowd the sidewalks. I was trying to think of the best girl-watching joke, something about finding crowds of terribly attractive women disgusting, but it's eluded me.

That's the joke I was trying to come up with in Osaka though. At some point yesterday morning I started to feel like I'd reached some saturation point & was not so overwhelmed. And now I'm in love with the woman from Tully's. I should have invited her to the show, but damn this language barrier. If we were somewhere else I could have made up some Italian, but this shit is impossible.

Our first night in Osaka was spent walking the streets, valiantly attempting to interact with enthusiastic and frightened Japanese fans, and eating a large and delicious meal in what felt like an old Japanese mountain hut, albeit air conditioned & on the sixth floor of a shopping mall. We walked; Andy and Tim went to sleep; & I ended up at Ganja, a strange and tiny (maybe 8' x 12') 3rd-floor bar around the corner from the hotel, with our friends/fans/hosts & I-am-I, who is of course the owner of the bar. We drank, I received &smp; ate up the kinds of compliments usually reserved for those who authored books of the Bible, & eventually went back to the hotel for a very few hours of sleep. Every morning I've been waking at 5:30, &smp; the first morning I went for a long long walk through Osaka, taking pictures of businessmen sleeping off the previous night's binge, listening to the cicadas howling from what I believe were emerald trees in the temple down the street. I'd like to get up so early every morning, but if I did I'd collapse. I almost did collapse, really—too much sweating, too little water & too little sleep. And at the show in Osaka, I was all fired up for these Japanese fans, & hurt myself for it. Anytime a crowd is visibly appreciative of my efforts to pound the drums like a maniac, I pound them that much more manically, and after Never Met a Man I was two-hundred-yard-dash winded, just absurd, and I think it did me in for about 30 hours.

But now all is better. We played in Osaka, it was fun even though Tim destroyed two bass cabinets during the show; I spent a long time afterwards trying to communicate with a beautiful woman from Kyoto who'd come down, sadly, with her boyfriend; and afterwards Tim, Andy and I went to Ganja for another late night drink. I talked to a surly Noh actor, I-am-I played What's Up Matador, we spent $30 for three drinks & went back to the hotel.

The club in Osaka was about 30 yards from our hotel. I don't know if there's anything more luxurious than that, and it was the same last night at O-nest in Tokyo: about a 30 yard commute. My initial Japan-shock is over, I think, so Tokyo, while clearly a crushingly vast city, is not so overwhelming to me. Today I'm on a quest to find & ascend a tall building, though, so I may change my tune when I've seen the view.

Last night's show at O-Nest was alright. I think it sounded good, and it sounded good onstage, but we couldn't really get it together as a band. We were talking about it afterwards, and I stated my theory: I feel a disconnect with the audience, and I'm not sure how to play for them. I thought of when we played at this coffeeshop/gallery in Gorizia, Italy, feeling like such a stranger, using strange instruments & playing through a bad PA; but still I felt like we could relax & play and I wasn't worried about the response. And it's not that I wasn worried about the response last night—I just didn't really know what it was. It's hard to describe. I think tonight my focus is gonna be all internal, I'm not looking beyond the stage, it gets too bewildering. And even worse, last night when we finished Don't Make Plans & hopped off the stage for a minute or so, I saw that two of our fans were literally weeping—I mean, like, tears streaming down. I still don't know what to say about that. There is sincerity here that is almost nonexistent in my world, and I try to keep my world pretty sincere.

I think that's enough for now. There are endless observations to spout out, the most recent for me being a stroll through a department store, hoping to find a washcloth, something to use to pat the sweat off my face as I have seen the Japanese do, the few who actually sweat. A solitary woman stood at the door or counter of every shop or booth, hands folded in front of her. As I walked down the hall, each woman bowed low from the waist, and said what sounded like "messieur messieur." At times there were several on either side, bowing and murmering. It did not resemble anything I have experienced before.

More later.


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