Roppongi, May , 2013

Roppongi 2013
Reds during a day of video shooting in Roppongi, Tokyo May 2013.

So…. I mentioned before, that my first encounter with
Japan was spring 2011.
I was actually in grad school in the USA at that time.
The semester had just finished.
The year before I had been to Vanuatu.
The trip to Vanuatu inspired me a lot.
Fascinated me on a very deep level, because it was
so immensely different to anything I had ever
experienced before.
It drove me to do more linguistic research, as well as
interdisciplinary linguistic anthropology.
Did you know that Vanuatu has over 100 languages
but a population of just about 200000?
One of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world
when you factor in the tiny population!

And as you could see in the video below, they look and behave
very differently from any society (I have ever lived in).
However, on a daily basis, they eat, sleep, have sex, argue,
converse, greet each other….much like I do… WE do,
we humans.
However, being there, immersed in their society, I was aware
pretty much from the get go, that their society is different.
They look different.
Their surroundings and living quarters are very different.
Their social rules are different.
I wont go any further into this topic here, but let’s just
face it:
They look different, they have no cell phones, no gadgets,
and there are no stores (outside of Port Vila, and on the majority of islands),
there is not even electricity on most islands…
so we think, we believe, we assume that
they are different
and they certainly therefore must be more difficult
to communicate with.
In the past Vanuatu was colonized by UK and France in a shared colony.
Unique and interesting in itself, and I could probably write a whole
book just about that…
but
My book is about my life and experiences in Japan.

Japan is surrounded by stereotypes.
We all know them.
We know a lot about Japan in the west,
we really do, don’t we?
They are different in Japan.
They bow, they don’t shake hands.
The food is amazing.
They eat sushi in Japan.
They eat rice in Japan.
They eat with chop sticks.
Japan has a loooong history.
They have temples.
The country in itself is gorgeous with mountains and
they have Mount Fuji.
They also have Tokyo,
and subways that are so crowded one cannot breathe.

We know a lot, don’t we?
I also thought, they must be more similar to me,
more similar than the tribal people in Vanuatu.
Right?
I mean Japan is so high tech, isn’t it?
They make robots and stuff.

When I first arrived in Japan, that was pretty much all
of what I knew … the above…
I also knew some about their music.
X-Japan, hide, Luna Sea, Yellow Magic Orchestra,
L’Arc~en~Ciel, Nightmare, Kuroyume, Gazette….
That was it…
When I travelled around in Japan, in the spring of 2011,
I was also confirming it,
I shot photos of temples,
I went to concerts,
I saw exactly what my stereotypes have told me.

Then… suddenly I decided….
to change my life….
and
My life changed
A LOT!!
because after my first trip to Japan,
the trip when “the sky called me”,
I decided to move to Japan.
I wanted to go deeper, discover more, hear more music…

I met Shingo, a Japanese friend, whom I taught English.
We met every day… yes, every day for many months.
I met Yuka from Hachioji (Tokyo suburb).
Then I met Vagu*Project, a Japanese band,
and Vorchaos, and Dazzle! and…
many other bands followed.
We had meetings, talks, discussions
I started the Pink Spider Web.
I was in love with the country and its people.
I still am.
I still love Japan.

A few years later after I came back to Japan,
(I had been in the US to treat a colon cancer)
I met this man in the photo above: Reds.
He is the vocalist in AURA. A Japanese band that started in the
90s and was one of the front bands, and pioneers, for the Japanese
Visual Kei.
We met at one of my favorite spots in Japan:
The Club Sensation in Yokohama.
How we met, and the miracles I felt will be another story.
It was certainly though a very special encounter
and on a very deep level.
Deeper than rational brain can go,
and more amazing than I thought possible.
We truly connected!

He was delighted to see my work on the internet.
How I could reach so many people across the globe.
Because sadly, I had discovered by now,
Japan isn’t all like I perceived it to be during my trips.
Hanging with Japanese bands like Vagu*Project,
I had noticed that they somehow were out of synch.
Out of synch with how technologically ahead Japan must be,
but was not….
Because certainly a country with high tech industries must
have every single citizen on top of the game?
It seemed to me the more I got to know people like
Reds, that Japan is somehow,
Out of synch with the world!

I had, already during my first trip to Japan,
felt that some thing was ‘off’.
Buying tickets for example. –  not possible, at least not the way
I think of
Finding band info online another example –  web pages ill-maintained
and in Japanese only.
Adding Japanese friends on Facebook… was often met with a
stare:  “Facebook???”
This was 2013.. Where were the Japanese online?
They showed me ameoba.
They showed me their web sites…in Japanese.
I was like, but eh…. globally people don’t speak Japanese.
How do you reach your fans abroad?
How do you reach new fans?

Being with them, and later with Reds,
I learned a lot.
Japan was not what my stereotypes had informed me.
To write all that I discovered in Japan,
will take many chapters…. like ….a Book!!
so yes, I wont write it all here, because this is a blog,
and this is why I’m writing a book!
I will just leave some for the book…. lol

Working with the bands, seeing hundreds of bands,
yes hundreds, I got to spend a lot of time together
with them.
And now comes the tricky part, because I was still
somehow in an illusion, that by now…
I knew the Japanese. I understood them.
Their struggles with learning English,
(which by the way is perfectly understandable at
one level because it’s equally difficult for me to learn Japanese)
Their gender inequality,
their difference in gender perception altogether…
I got it!
What I also rather quickly learned was their power structures.
What I am not capable of though, is adapting 100% to their ways.

I naively thought of it as a bridge…
A bridge where we meet half-way while connecting.
I still believe we can do this (but I will return to this later and
more in detail in my book).
I really believed we could truly work together!

The implications though, run much deeper than
understanding that they have power structures,
or knowing that they are reluctant to the concept
of change.
Let alone to actually change anything.
Reds was a fresh wind.
He was curious.
He wanted to reach out.
He wanted to connect.
I thought it was a real wish,
I believed it was possible.

And I believed him…
in a way I still do.

The bridge however… is another story.
There is a thin line between
understanding and misunderstanding

To be continued…….

 

 

 

I can feel the kiss

I recorded this video clip in Vanuatu 2010.
The true beginning…as every day is a beginning.
I just wasn’t aware of it then, that the trip to Vanuatu
was going to set-off a chain reaction of events,
that lead from this moment in Vanuatu,
to my ‘new life’ in Japan just a year later.

The amount of accumulated special moments since then
until this present moment, is huge!
So what I am doing, is to spread them out on my
enormous time line.
I have divided the time-line spanning from little before this
video in Vanuatu until today, and on it I add photos.
To each photo I add a note with event name,
for example “Live gig at Meguro Live Station with xxx band”.

Under the line I also add notes like departure times for
flights, visits from abroad, and everything else.
Just to keep track of all the places I’ve been…
is a task in itself
During the years I cover (about 6-7 years), besides my life in Japan,
I lived in or visited (not in order and many I visited several times):
USA: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico,  Texas,
Utah, and Washington
UK including London and Wales, Sweden, Germany, Laos, Ukraine,
Azerbaijan, India, Nepal, Thailand, Hong Kong, Taiwan
Vanuatu, Mexico, Canada, Singapore
…. and more
and in Japan, I traveled a total of 6 weeks with Japan Rail Pass.
From northern Tohoku to Kyushu and a lot of it in between.

The program I use for this purpose is called ‘Scapple’
and it’s really invaluable to my book writing project.

In the photo below I combined two screen shots.
In the upper half,
one can see one year (of approximately 7 years total)
In the lower half one can see
how it looks closer up.
I still need to add more notes about each event,
for example names of band members at a live,
or who was with me at a certain bar and so on.

scapple

It is however time-consuming!
Often I find my mind wandering off.
A photo generate an intense feeling of
actually being there.
I can smell the flowers.
I can hear the music.
I can feel the kiss on my lips.
I can hear arguments and conflicts.
I can sense the love
It’s all embedded in this time line.
And the questions arise.
Why?  Why did we meet?
Why did I choose this or that?
It is also time consuming by the whole
metod in itself,
but in the end, I’m sure this is the best way!

Memories, but also a future.
My future.
Our future.
I have no doubt that even if I’m writing my book
about the past, it is not finished.
My story is not finished.
Friendship, and relationships,
continue in to the future.
My book is a snippet of this
continuum!
It really has no true beginning,
nor is it by any means
over yet!

Anna

 

The Matrix

Today I once agan watched a favorite movie: The Matrix.
This time I watched it with eyes of what I am going through right now.

Life has this amazing feature…
We accumulate experiences which changes us.
We meet people who informs us, teaches us, gives us
and they are in our life for different reasons and needs.
We also meet people whom we misunderstand,
who takes from us, who leaves us behind,
who hurts us.

The older we get, the stretch behind us becomes longer,
and the experience bank gets bigger and bigger.
This however, does not necessarily mean we get wiser and wiser.
ha ha ha

Because that’s another feature life has..
we are creatures of habit.
Behavior- and thought patterns for example.
We strive for perfection…
Tomorrow I will be a better person
Tomorrow I will eat healthy
Tomorrow I will be more patient
Tomorrow I will be a better friend
Tomorrow I will learn from what I have been through
Tomorrow I will spend less money
Tomorrow I will be more generous…
We believe we CAN change..learn… grow…. improve…
yet,
we are still the same
We are creatures of habits.

To think outside the box,
to be creative,
to be hopeful,
to be happy,
to be inspiring,
to love unconditionally,
to be kind,
is really not easy, regardless of our age, and days lived in our life.

Well let’s just face it …
Life is a dang roller coaster
Life has good days and bad days.
Life has good years, and bad years,
Life gives us new relationships
while others break.
Change is inevitable
Always
When life is at its darkest
is also the very moment when it will turn!

Now going back to the Matrix,

The movie is filled with a huge amount of religious symbolism
and is certainly food for thought.
Which reality is real?
Whose reality is real?

When I saw Neo take the red pill,
I wondered about myself.
Am I ready to take a red pill?

Taken from wikipedia:
“As narrated, the blue pill will allow the subject to remain in
the fabricated reality of the Matrix; the red serves as a “location device”
to locate the subject’s body in the real world and to prepare him or her
to be “unplugged” from the Matrix. Once one chooses the red or blue pill,
the choice is irrevocable.
…Neo takes the red pill and awakens in the real world,
where he is forcibly ejected from the liquid-filled chamber in
which he has been lying unconscious…

In a 2012 interview, Lana Wachowski said:

What we were trying to achieve with the story overall was
a shift, the same kind of shift that happens for Neo,
that Neo goes from being in this sort of cocooned
and programmed world, to having to participate
in the construction of meaning to his life. “

Now this is what speaks to me.
Participate in the construction of meaning to my own life.
However, to take the red pill is certainly not a pleasure ride.
To take the red pill ….or not?
….
Tomorrow I will learn from my mistakes.
Tomorrow I will do things differently.
Tomorrow I will calm down.
Tomorrow I will be a better person…

 

 

 

 

Editing

Yesterday I posted a short video with a tunnel.
I’m quite fascinated by tunnels as a metaphor for transformation,
transgression, change, and  …. life

Tunnels can be dark and murky, and we talk about seeing the light
at the end of the tunnel.
Those tunnels can be scary, and we hope, and often believe,
that the coming out of the tunnel we will be free, happy and content.

Sometimes the tunnel is like the one in the blog post below,
It’s not dark at all….
bright and illuminated,
but still a place that takes us from one ‘reality’ to another.
The walking in a tunnel is a walk with an aim,
you don’t want to stay in that place forever.
The goal is really to get out of there.
You just have to get going…
In September 2011 I was in such a  bright kind of tunnel.

I was really happy. I was at Inazuma Rock Fes
On stage were great bands like:
Def Tech, Dragon Ash, Abingdon Boys School, and Gazette
Yet at the end of one of my blog entries from that week end I had written:

… a PURPOSE …
Do I have one?
I believe I do!
I just need to find it.

Eventually later that year I did find my purpose.
My mission met my passion.
The music in Japan and the live scene.
Somehow I was out of the bright tunnel and had found my path.

And once out I met tons of amazing people!
Tetsu great drummer (for ex. mintmints, ex. Ra:IN)  here a night
when we had drinks together at his bar Boogie Stock in Shin-Daita.

Going to live gigs I met some amazing people,
often one contact introduced me to another,
and got to know, and work with, many Japanese musicians up close.
One such band was Vorchaos.
We discussed strategies for bands in general, and for them in particular,
how to make it in this new global world.
I’m so happy they still play together and keep on going!

and time went on .. I wasn’t in a tunnel.
I was on a path! Out and about!
I had direction and purpose.
When you are on a path you don’t contemplate much.
There isn’t the same feeling present, as there is when you are in a tunnel.
You don’t search for the light at the end.
You just enjoy the ride.


With Derinjar at Chelsea Hotel  about 2 years ago.

And I sure enjoyed everything!

Now I am back in a tunnel… but another kind of tunnel.
This one is almost pitch black. Or it has been….
I’m beginning to see the light,
I’m going through change,
and I’m using the contemplative nature of being in a tunnel,
to think about what will be on the other side.
Often we just don’t know what will come…

What has happened … during my time on the path,
is that somewhere along the road,
I started listening to how other people thought I should act.
Where I should put my time.
How I should do things
How I should prioritize my time..

But now ….in the middle of the dark tunnel….
I woke up…
and Im back at a mental place where I am more in charge.
And I’m being creative.
I might not at all know what will come at the other end,
but I know this much..
there is an end also to this tunnel!

“This is my life,
my story,
my book,
and I will no longer let anyone else write it.
nor will I apologize for the edits I make”
Steve Maraboli

 

 

 

It’s a Tunnel

Almost 6 years ago
In a tunnel in Northern Japan (Tohoku)
It’s not the best video quality.
It’s really not much content at all,
but I’m busy working today.
and this video might,
or might not,
speak to you,,,,
as it speaks to me.
I’m fascinated by many things.
Mountains, running water,
social rules, communication,
language, brain chemistry,
religious beliefs,
political ideology,  human nature,
dualism, monism,
Daoism in contrast to Konfucianism,
habits, educational systems
and
tunnels