Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Running Out of Time

To much to do in too little time. Uh. Last time I was in Japan 4 weeks seemed a little long. But two weeks is definitely too short. I am trying to cram every last minute with meeting people. I have a full three days left and I don't think I will get to see everybody I want to. I guess it means I will have to come back soon!

A really cool art house was having a Naomi Tani film festival and I caught the last one. Naomi Tani is probably the best known or prolific actress for Nikkatsu's Roman Porno series in the 70's. While Japanese S&M films aren't usually my cup of tea it was a real treat to catch this movie in a movie theatre. I can't really recommend these films to anybody because they are very extreme for most westerners. Bondage, rape, torture all done in a totally exploitive manner. You definately have to ease yourself in to this genre.
For those of you curious enough the best known of Naomi Tani films and easiest to see is in the U.S. is Wife to be Sacrificed. It was the first Nikkatsu film I ever saw and I would go as far to say I like it. It's playing at a theatre in Tokyo, and I might venture there to see it tomorrow.

After the film I hooked up with my old friend Johnny. He is a drum n' bass DJ and lives in a really cool apartment in Shimokitazawa. We met up around 11pm and kept drinking until 4 or 5 in the am. It was a blast. He took me to a lot or really cool bars. Drinking bad, really, really bad. But fun, really, really fun.

Tonight I am having dinner with Hoppy Kamiyama and then maybe meeting my friend Yusei afterwards. Where does the time go.....

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.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dinner with the Sugita's

I just had the most amazing dinner with my friend Soichiro's parents. His mom prepared Sashimi and Tempura. It was soooooo deliciouso. They kept filling my glass with beer and sake and filling my plate with many good things. Now I am done. I am a bloated pig and I am ready for bed.

The Sugita's are very sweet. Today was Mr. Sugita's 58th birthday. A rare treat indeed. Soichro's 84 year old grandmother was also present at dinner. She was always looking out for me by filing my sake glass or making sure I had enough tempura sauce.

I am going sightseeing with Soichiro tomorrow and then meeting up with my friend Cal. I will be leaving for Kansai on Friday to hopefully interview Makoto Kawabata of the Acid Mothers Temple, and see some old friends.

Even though I just arrived. It feels like I am running out of time. If anyone has any spare money lying around. I sure could use it. You'll receive an executive producer credit on my film! So dig deep like dig dug and don't delay.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Meet The Parents

Yesterday, I met up with my friend Soichiro. We hung out most of the day at coffee shops and drank too much coffee and tons of hope cigarettes. It was fun. I don't smoke usually unless I am really drunk, but here it seemed appropriate.
After a great dinner we went back to Soichiro's house. I met his parents. They are very cute! They were very curious about me and asked me all about why I like Japanese music and film. I replied that I am drawn to the sound of the Japanese language and the pitch of Japanese voices. It appeals to me. Also the blend of western and eastern influence catches my attention more than most things.
Today I am trying to figure out my schedule for the rest of the trip, and hammer down these darn interviews.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Movie Flight

I was on a plane for ten+ hours watching too many movies. It started great. I saw the incredible for the first time. Fantastic! Loved it. Then I moved to Ocean's 12. Having not seen the remake I didn't`t really get it. Bad ass crooks dress sharp and are smarter than the smartest and everybody wins. A real feel good movie.
Moving right along I watched the ever heart wrenching "Finding Neverland". Nevermind. I like Johnny Depp, and he gives a command performance as James Barrie. But I`ll take 21 Jumpstreet over that any day.
I then watched a movie in Japanese about a female lawyerTakako who represents one of her long lost high school classmates. Her old classmate got knocked up by a rising movie star who is on Location in New York. He has hired the other attorney in the firm. It`s a real tear-jerker with a lot of laughs. And yes after the blood and DNA tests true love prevails.
I ended my film fest with National Treasure. What the FUCK! It looks made for T.V. Bad acting, editing,script. But it is good on American history, I suppose. Did someone put money into this. It should be boner city with Nick Cage, Harvey Keitel and Jon"Anaconda not Midnight Cowboy" Voight. Maybe these guys are B-sides now.
I landed in Narita and then took the hour and a half express train to Shinjuku in Tokyo. I sat next to a real nice German lady Annetta, who owns her own travel agency for Orchestra`s. Sounds cool. She travels all the time. She reminded me that the World Expo is going on. I think I am going to have to check that out. The conversation was so nice that I forgot that I was in Japan(no Joke). When we got off the train, all the smells and sounds hit like a ton of bricks. So I grabbed a locker and hit the scene.
Now I'm sitting in my favorite manga place. Tomorrow I am going to stay at my good friend Soichiro's house. But tonight it's capsule all the way!!