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

 

hide’s aura

hide  birthday at Miura Reien 2011

now after a night being all happy and wired at Narciss December 12th,
Keep in mind the reason Vagu*Project captured my heart:
The reason was at that the first time I saw Vagu*Project live I felt
hide’s presence…. we ALL felt it!!
My heart almost stopped that evening, and when we left that that night,
I remember asking my friends…
did you feel that? Sense that? See that? hmmm that….
that … … …?

… and the reply came fast… yeah, you mean hide?!

The Vagu guitarist Shinya who just has ”IT”
there is Something about him….the way he moves, acts, moves his eyes.
and YuI who radiates the mentally.. emotions… like wordlessly exhales
hide’s spirit.
NO, Shinya, the guitarist , does not look like hide.
He doesn’t even have crazy Visual Kei make up like the other two,
nor is he sporting some kind of hide wannabe   outfit…
YET he has something like an hide manners and body language,
and
YuI, the vocalist has the hide aura

He too doesn’t look like hide physically…
it is impossible to explain in any other way.
Shinya somehow behaves like hide. the way he treats his pick,
the way he looks at the others while playing,
YuI feels like he has an aura around him which is hide’s.
Shinya also plays in a band called
中国釣具店 (Chinese Fishing Tackle Store)
http://www.chu-tsuri.com
Update:
Shinya no longer does. He is now regular member in Vagu*Project

Anyway the transition is there
HIDE is the transition…
My physical transition from Vagu*Projects live to the cemetery was
however rapid, brutal and unkind ha ha ha
(and later that got some undesired consequences).
I got back home in decent time from Urawa (it’s quite a distance up in
Saitama prefecture, Northern metropolitan area of Tokyo.. suburbs)
but then I just had to rip the Vagu*Projects CDs,  and listen and
enjoy it all over again and share it here on te blog, and with my
beloved friend and all kinds of energizing activities instead of going
to rest and sleep.
Plus I had to research train schedules and maps for a bit of complicated
travel on December 13th
Having no internet on the phone is beyond frustrating ..
OK so bottom line… I got in bed a tad late for getting up at 9-ish..
needed to catch a train from here at 9.50 am
I did get up but not at 9 , but it was at 9-ish at least.

Getting down to Miura Reien was the easy part!
Done this before now.. felt like a pro.. ha ha

Departed around 10.10 am I think..
I don’t recall now if I left at 10 or 10.10 and that really doesn’t matter,
because going down there is no match.
Even the trick that JR has played on me before at Shinjuku Station
didn’t throw me off this time! ha ha ha
I take Odakyu line from home to Shinjuku then there one needs to catch
for example Shonan Shinjuku line to go to Yokohama.

Train leaves at JR Shinjuku Station Track number 1 BUT….
now this is the trick..
nowhere does it say in English that it is run via Tokaido line!!
So you just have to know the characters for Yokohama 横浜
and generally know what you are doing ha ha and look at the time,
and the schedule and the signs for the correct departure.

Yes I have never really told you much, or whined about, the fact
that life in Japan can be rather challenging at times.
This particular day had its fair share of mishaps because of it!
Anyway from home to Shinjuku, Shinjuku to Yokohama,
in Yokohama onto Keio line to go down to Miura Kaigan

NB: I used another way when I explained how to get down there
in the BLOG from this spring way back on this Blog now…
THAT other way is essential if you travel on a JR pass and want to
use it as much as u can, because
the JR Pass is not valid on the Keio line!!

Then the BUS from Miura Kaigan to Miura Reien, which I really
don’t even know the number of anymore…  I just steer to the right when
exiting the station and the bus stop (nr 2 I think it says on the Bus stop ha
but check with this blog on earlier posts before you jump on any bus by chance.
You can use search features for tags here on the PSW blog).

Then the beautiful shore I always have to stop a moment, or a
few minutes before leaving the ocean behind. Even this day even though
the crowd today lines up like a hide and X-inspired snake up the path.
I don’t think I was mentally prepared for that fact either!
The “so-many-people-there-today” deal.
Of course I realized this before leaving for Miura on his birthday,
but didn’t quite get it until I was there.
Personally as much as it is cool and fun to go up there with a friend,
I must recommend going there alone.
To stand looking out at that ocean and listening to hide’s voice
just grabs my heart every time! The boats up on the shoreline.
The fishing nets….

 

 


 

Ninezero & The Outlaws Tour 2011

Ninezero and the Outlaws tour 2011

Ninezero – Vocals
You – Bass
Keisuke – Guitar
Masato – Drums

Unfortunately at this time I have no camera
Only a phone… so sound and image is pretty bad,
so I spared you and cut the vids short.
I see this blog as a TEASER or a TRAILER…
I mean the idea is that
YOU all should go and listen to guys like these
and pay them to do so!
It is soooo worth it!

Thinking of all bands and venues, I have seen here in Japan,
and previously in the US and Europe,
I must recommend this kind of small intimate LIVE house size gigs,
because you get so close to the music and to the REAL DEAL
and that is worth so much!
Tokyo also has TONS of live houses like this.
If you don’t know how to find them
check out The Pink Spider Web’s venue list and map help
in English!
You can either search alphabetically for a live house,
when you know the name of the place, but need help
finding it,
Or you can click on the Tokyo map where you are, or want to go,
and see all the live houses that are in that vicinity.
You will get a google map,
home page link (if there is one) and info.
You will find a drop down menu under ‘venues’
on
http://www.thepinkspiderweb.com/

When the blog is about travel, it’s the same thing…
I’m sharing my adventures so that you can become inspired
and GO OUT on your adventures…
Come to Japan!
Hop on the trains with a JR pass,
See the world!

JUMP when the PINK CLOUDS are calling YOUR name!

 

You Bass

Keisuke Guitar

Masato Drums

Ninezero