Tuesday, January 1, 2008

JAPAN 2007

Well my New Years resolution is to start posting the backlog of blogs I've kept notes on for the past few months and to stay up with it a bit better in the future. Running the store and now working at Ottobar again have put me in a tight place for time so I'm going to reach back a bit and get some photos from my most recent trip to Japan up here.

As with my last trip I owe much to the hospitality of both Frank Supiot and Jesse Conway. Both were nice enough to let me stay with them in Tokyo and Osaka respectively and Jesse went out of his way not only to make me feel at home but also to take days off of work and show me around. He also has an amazing blog about his time living in Japan with much better pictures and detail than this, you should check it out here:


Like my previous trips I flew in to Narita airport and took the express into Tokyo Station. From there, the subway to Franks neighborhood Nishi-Ogikubu, some catching up and much needed sleep. Here are some Photos from the Tokyo part of the trip:

Akihabara is the electronic and Anime/Game center of Japan and maybe even the world. On my previous trips I skipped this part of Tokyo but after watching


and falling in love with the show I just had to go to where a good deal of it was filmed and much of the action takes place. The above photo was taken at the Akihabara Station which you can see featured in the closing credits of each Densha episode. Check it out for the sweet ending theme!


Another photo from Akihabara:

I was really lucky to catch some great shows this time around including the out of control


They were great and despite the language barrier were amazingly nice and made me feel really welcome.


The next day I was lucky enough to catch FUCK ON THE BEACH and SPROUTS play an amazing show at 2000V. The Sprouts Pins and Glasses single has been in rotation on my record player for forever now and although they had some technical problems it was great to finally see them! For those not in the know they play a combination of full tilt DRI style thrash mixed with Rock and Roll!


FUCK ON THE BEACH have been keeping the Powerviolence scene alive in Japan and did not disappoint! Their guitar tone sounded like a dental drill going into a tooth! It was amazing and they put on a great show!

fuck on the beach!

I spent the rest of my time in Tokyo split between hanging out with frank and doing some serious record shopping. I went to quite a few toy stores mostly looking for a KERORO GUNSO t-shirt as seen in Densha Otoko, but no luck. I did grab a few toys and a sweet pick of the frog himself here:
Next up was the Shinkansen bullet train to Osaka. I can't really express just how fast this thing goes so I took a quick film from my window. The funny thing is I don't even think my camera was able to capture just how fast we were going.

Osaka was amazing, Jesse was a great host and introduced me to some of the nicest people I have ever met. the previous year I was only able to spend one day there so I was thrilled to be able to explore a bit more. Some photos from Osaka:no caption needed!


Many of my friends love to scold me for my awful eating habits, namely that I only eat like four things, those being Pizza, French Fries, French Fries and Burritos! So I was super excited when we had lunch at BAR BRODY named for the wrestler Bruiser Brody so beloved by the Japanese. In addition to the Lucha masks on the wall and classic posters pictured above, two screens constantly played Mexican wrestling. It was great but both times we tried to return they were closed.

Next up on my list of favorite things was Neko-Cha! This translates to Cat-Tea and is a small cafe where you can....wait for it......drink tea and PET CATS! I was loving it!


I wish someone would open one of those here!




Amazing Pushead art for Astro-Zombies Toy store!

I was told later that the singer from CITY INDIANS runs this place??? I wish I had known!


I also saw a few great shows on this part of my trip as well one of which featured Jesse's band SLUTS. I have to say I was blown away by the speed and power with which they played. A definite early US hardcore influence as well. I'll have demos at the store really soon but until then here are a few pics:


After the show everyone went out to a restaurant and paid a set amount for all you could eat and drink for a few hours, It was great hanging out and making some awesome new friends.

I was so excited to catch RAZOR'S EDGE playing a rare hometown show at FANDANGO as well. Anyone who has listened to me blather on about RE knows how highly I think of them but nothing prepared me for seeing them in a small club with so many loyal fans. I was smashed up front against the monitors as they careened through song after song of their 1000 mile per hour RAMONES influenced Thrash/Pop stopping only for front man Kenji to joke with the crowd. It's hard to put into words but being there and seeing them play with such energy made me feel completely renewed with Punk and Hardcore. I cannot imagine how big the smile on my face was but I could feel my heart hammering in my chest and I remember thinking that I never wanted to see another shitty Baltimore Hipster Art/Rock/Metal show again in my life. I was so excited I did not think it could get any better, and then they played KILL YOUR TELEVISION by NEDS ATOMIC DUSTBIN and the crowd went crazy, surely THIS was as good as it was going to be, I felt 15 years younger and more excited then I had been in so long but then they played MOUNTAIN MOUNTAIN and even the Bouncers started stage-diving and I completely lost my proverbial shit. Even now just thinking about that show makes my heart race and helps whatever bullshit I might have to deal with just slide off my shoulders.

I know that sometimes people find out about a band and they want it to be their little secret but if I could make Razor's Edge the biggest band in the world I would. I was too stoked to take any Pictures but check out these clips!


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I can thank Chris X, My former boss at Reptilian Records with introducing me to THEE MICHELLE GUN ELEPHANT one of the greatest Rock and Roll bands I have ever heard. It turns out that my luck was in order as the new band THE BIRTHDAY featuring The vocalist and drummer of TMGE was playing not far from Osaka while I was there. I bought a (expensive!) ticket in advance and that was a good thing as every show on their tour was completely sold out.
They put on an intense show that featured only them (no openers!) and really made me feel that I had gotten my moneys worth. Singer Chiba Yuske has such a passionate and expressive voice that it was chilling to hear it in person and through such an amazing sound system! No cameras were allowed in the show but here are a flier and a clip!

Another highlight was getting to meet Jacky from FRAMTID/CRUST WAR. He invited me and Jesse back to his small apartment, bought us food and let us dig through and listen to his extensive collection of Japanese Punk records. It was painful seeing such amazing records I'm never going to own but it was such a great visit and just cemented my feelings for Osaka!He also let me dig through and grab some amazing fliers he had duplicates of! Before I left I asked to catch a photo as a memento, Jacky agreed but not before putting on a bullet belt! I grabbed his jacket and BAM! Instant Crust cred!


I didn't head back to the Ghibli Museum this time but I could not resist taking a picture of this stray Totoro!
Tommy Lee Jones is the Mother Fucking BOSS Y'all!


I feel like I could post another giant blog on the side trip to Kyoto Jesse was nice enough to take me on. It was beautiful and it was great to have a day outside and away from the neon and Punk rock that permeated most of my trip.

We walked about one mile straight up the side of this mountain behind the Fushimi Inari shrine. There were also smaller shrines on the path towards the top. In addition to this the paths were lined with Tori Gates almost the entire way up.


JESSE AT THE TOP! Master of all he surveys!

"Characterising the site are numerous statues of foxes, messengers of Inari, and guardians of the shrine. A pair of stone fox statues stand on guard at the entry to each of the site's shrines and sub-shrines. Inari's foxes are said to be helpful, but others are said to be dangerous and bewitch people, sometimes even in the guise of beautiful woman. Foxes are also believed to be capable of possessing humans, entering them under their fingernails. A key often seen in the mouth of a fox statue is for the rice granary."

Awesome! Me and the Fox attempting to enter me through my fingernails. I'm listening to COFFINS on the Ipod appropriately!

We also took some time to check out Nijo Castle. Easily my favorite part of this was the excessively loud squeaking when walking on the floorboards said to be the way intruders or assassins would be given away trying to sneak in.

I'm sure I'm missing tons, but it was such a great trip I don't think there would be anyway to capture it all in a post. Heres some more random Photos tho.....

MIGHTY ATOM! in Kyoto.

Adult theater, Osaka