Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Safe And Sound In Japan

First of all I want to say I was not anywhere near the tragic train wreck earlier this week. I have been unable to have any descent amount of time on a computer which is a good thing. Now I find myself in a Mangakissa with nothing but time on my hands.

The weekend turned out to be pretty incredible. I met up with Cal and he took me to a club where I met many interesting people. The one who struck me the most was a Aida. She works for MTV Japan and is half Ethiopian and half Japanese. She Speaks Amharic, Japanese, French and English. A pretty eclectic mix I'd Say. Cal took off for Southeast Asia to work on a film and is letting me stay in his Apartment while he is gone. God Damn! I have met some of the nicest people here.

I hung out with my friend Miho and her friend Megu-tan on Friday. Neither of them speak English and we got on just fine. After eating our hearts out at an Izakaya we went to Karaoke!!!
The next day I took of for Osaka. There I did a little record shopping and stayed in at this Capsule Hotel. I was kind of disappointed with my capsule experience in Shinjuku Tokyo. It was kind of run down and dirty. No scabies, but definitely not as good as the capsule I stayed at in Umeda Osaka. The asahi plaza capsule was nice a clean with really good staff, but Umeda is still my favorite.

In the morning I got up early and took a bullet train for Nagoya. It took about 50 minutes and I met up with my good friend, Eri Ishiyama. Eri used to live in S.F. and returned to Japan to pursue her music. She recently just finished a stint at a factory manufacturing electronic anti-theft devices for cars.

She picked me up at the station and we went wandering around Nagoya. We thought about the world exp, but it is kind of expensive and we were in no mood for crowds. We ended up eating ramen and takoyaki. It was a good to catch up with an old friend. By 6:30 I was off to Osaka to meet Chika for the first time.

Chika is in a band called mellows. She met me in Osaka and were quickly joined by Mako(also of mellows) and Kanji. Kanji is a very nice guy who speaks really good English. He is in the band Sipa Baled Clone. The four of us took went to dinner. They treated me to Okonomiyaki which is one of my favorites and a specialty dish in Osaka. Mako, Kanji and Chika were all very nice. We had an amazing time. The mellows and Kanji gave me a copy of their latest CD's which I can't wait to listen to.

After dinner Kanji took his leave and I went for coffee with the mellows. They are very sweet and it was nice to make new friends. I can't wait to see them again. After coffee and conversation they escorted me to my train(headed for my favorite capsule hotel) and we said our goodbye's.

Monday morning I left for Nara and there I met up with Eri, so we could interview Makoto Kawabata . We ate lunch at Mos Burger and waited for a call from Makoto. He called and gave directions to Asuka, Nara . Makoto is the founder of the The Acid Mothers Temple Collective. I felt that getting this interview would be a cornerstone for my documentary. And I think I was right.

Makoto, picked Eri and I up at Okadera station. We stopped at a store and bought some beer. He then proceeded to drive us 30 minutes into the mountains. The roads were very small and Narrow. It reminded me of driving to Sandia Peak the back way fom Placitas. When we arrived it was around 4pm, and we were on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. The air was fresh with pine trees birds were singing.

We parked around back and then when we went to the front Eri and I discovered that Makoto lives in an actual Temple. Apparently the temple is 400 years old and is visited 5 times a year by a monk. Makoto takes care of it and pays less than 100 dollars a month in rent. In the meantime he plays and records the various Acid Mothers Temple projects and has drinking parties in the temple.

The interview lasted about 3 hours and Makoto was most gracious. I can't tell you how blown away I am by this man. He spends about 3 months in Japan. He is constantly touring and putting out music. He and Hiroshi Higashi run the Acid Mothers Temple Label. Ironically he is known better internationally and almost unknown in Japan.

The walls of his room are aligned with records. He has more records than any of my friends. There are tons of exotic instruments and recording equipment too. Also he has an fondness for the 70's exploitation actress Reiko Ike which I share. He showed me his collection of movie posters which feature Reiko(my Friend Matt will be releasing some of these on DVD).
I am still pretty amped from my meeting with Makoto, so I will reveal more later. I thought he would be quiet and dark. But he is very war,m intense and sincere. His dedication to his lifestyle is inspiring to say the least, and his spirit struck me to the core.

Eri was a big help. She acted as my interpreter and did a bang up job. After Makoto dropped us off at the Station, Eri was speechless. She said maybe I'll see you soon in S.F. or Chicago. I bet I will.

Yesterday I arrived in Tokyo and ran around with my friend Yoshi. He has a new job and hadn't`t really ever experienced Tokyo. We went to Shinjuku and then met up with our friend Yukiko. I hadn't seen Yukiko in almost a year. It was good to hang out. We hung out in Roppongi. Definitely my least favorite place in Japan, but Yoshi misses America and wanted to be somewhere with western flare. So he treated Yukiko and I to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. I must say it was the Hardest of the Hard Rock Cafe's I've ever been to. I saw videos by; Ratt, Winger,Danger Danger, Poison, Lita Ford with Ozzy, and a couple of Bare Naked Ladies vids. I also hadn't seen AC/DC's "You Shook Me" video in almost 20 years. Funny how time flies.


Blogger tifanie said...

Good god, you're having fun! And Octopus balls, to boot? No way, man.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Gabe,
This is John Taylor, the one at Le Video, Duncan/jeff friend. Its great hearing about your trip.
Quick question is, do you know of any place over here that lets you make your own okonomiyaki at your table like in Japan? When i visited my father in tokyo 2 years ago, we got to do it at our table. it was really fun that way, and less greasy then the place in japan town that cooks em in the kitchen.

thats cool you know the guy from panik house. i'm excited about those releases. i haven't seen much of those films, but hope to become more aquainted.


6:21 PM  

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