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…….

 

 

 

Opening My Eyes

Why write?
A memoir is a collection of memories.
My memories.
My selected memories.

Crazy_cool_Joe_me


Writing my story based on my memories from a series, or a selection,
of events and experiences in my life.
Certain memories will create a thread and with these memory threads
I will create a web of meaning and understanding.

I’m not writing an auto-biography.
Maybe I will later in life, but for now I’m just trying to make sense
of my life, by examining what I have gone through.
I am examining all my memories, and I’m already in the process of
getting ‘eureka moments’…
enlightenments and insights about myself.

The words of my mentor and friend echo in my head.
Over the past 3 years in particular she has been trying to
explain to me why I should refocus my energy…
stand my ground and
be true to my starting point.
Where was that? How did I begin?
What has changed?

Yui

And not drain myself the way I was doing.
Not giving of my time (and money) and energy
as much as I had been doing,
but focus on my foundation and my mission.
Yes,
Not follow the needs of others,
but stay true to my mission.

Stay true to my call from the sky.
True to my mission.
Keep my integrity.
And all along…..
this has been my responsibility to myself,
I can’t blame anyone else for this.
..and yet….. I wasn’t even aware….

hide

I wasn’t able to see it.
At all….!!
But ..well now seeing all these memories spread out on my time line,
I suddenly became aware!
I could see it!!
Aware of the change that has come into my work
into my life, over time.
And even if a lot of it was amazing, fun, wonderful memories,
I had also little by little changed my path.
I wasn’t even aware
and I was too proud to listen,
to even try to listen and understand.
and way too HAPPY with my life
just the way it was.
After all just recently I came out of surgery
and made it out alive from cancer.
I didn’t want to miss a single moment of the euphoria,
and the love I felt.

Anna Post cancer surgery Oxygen

Now I will just have to take these memories and put them into a story.
A story that will communicate my perspective and truth to others.

Tsuyoshi Smle Oct 2012

How I got from there … for example from  listening to
DAZZLE! and seeing Tsuyoshi’s smile.
….to this moment today!

According to http://writingthroughlife.com/
There are 5 reasons for writing

  1. Writing your memoir helps you to identify the threads and themes in your life and make sense of what you’ve lived.
  2. Writing about your life is a healing and transformative journey.
  3. Your memoir contributes to recorded history and is your legacy
    to family, friends, and the world.
  4. It provides a way to share your experiences, world view, life lessons, and wisdom with others.
  5. It connects you with others who have experienced the same or similar situations, providing encouragement, comfort, and inspiration. It helps others understand they are not alone in their experiences.

So yes this makes sense.
Number 1 I’m already starting to see the effects of.
The somewhat traumatic feelings in the beginning of this year
must have been a result of previous actions.
If I don’t examine those previous events, I won’t ever be able to grow,
to learn
to move forward
without understanding, I won’t be ale to heal
so number 2 is also a given because..
well, because I do want to heal,
I want to amend,
I want to forgive
and to be forgiven.
I want to be understood!

Number 3 Is a hope for me, that through my story readers will gain
a peek into scenes they might be interested in.
Maybe some of you have thought about a similar journey,
Maybe you want to know more on a personal level how I
with my Western background (whatever that is?)
interpreted what I experienced in Japan.
Maybe my Japanese friends, and Japanese people in general,
want to know more about who I am?
What I have done in Japan.
Who I met.
What the outcome was…
well nr 4 then ties in with the above.

Number 5 .. Maybe so… that remains to be seen if there are others
out there who feel they can connect with my journey..
because
yes I long for being understood,
and like all people I want to feel like I belong somewhere,
that I am connected.

So how do I go about this?
Well honestly I have never before written a book.
So I need skills and tools.
According to Stephen King, and many other authors,
reading is essential, as is writing.
So that’s why I started this blogging streak,
to get it going…
For reading I read both non-fiction and fiction.
Non-fiction for picking up skills,
fiction to improve my vocabulary.

Telling True Stories

This was it for today!
Tomorrow I’m thinking of sharing some actual memories with you!

 

 

 

 

Fun and Silly in Miura

FUN and SILLY time at Miura Kaigan

We are not serious, just having FUN at the beach!
A break in life with laughter, joy and goofing around.

The guitar is Keigo’s, and yeah Nathanaël cannot play guitar ha ha ha

….and Keigo usually don’t wear a Burberry trench coat on the beach ha ha ha

Music by Keigo Suzuki – “Untitled”

( to cover up the original sound caught by my simple camera…WIND & waves)
edited by me to fit the little clip!

Thank You hide – Our Pink Spider

Miura Reien – a visit to say THANKS to hide April 15th 2012

For those of you that have followed this blog a while, you know how strongly I feel about Miura Reien. This is the very spot where I felt a strong call from the pink spider and a reassurance that changing my life totally, was possible and in fact doable. All I needed was to JUMP and just BELIEVE that anything was possible, even in my life.
A call to go back to who I am, what I am all about and that daring challenges is OK.

Therefore, I come back here often, each time has been for a different reason in a way.
When I arrived back in Japan this time, April 7th around 11PM/23.00 and entered immigration I had a few days behind me filled with worrying and mental pain.
I had DOUBTs, would they let me back in? Did I have all the papers in order? WOuld I be able to control my feelings in case they would interrogate me and questioning my reasons for being in Japan? What would I do if I couldn’t get back in? Go back to what?
Life as it was before Miura May 30th, 2011…..?
I hardly slept the last days in Sydney, Australia and I felt sorry for being a nervous wreck  kind of guest at my wonderful friend Ru-chan… It was like I couldn’t fully function….

Then when I got off the plane at Haneda and approached the immigration booths I recalled an article I had just read before leaving about the importance of taking a big deep breath, and how such a physical action could really aid in calming ourselves down.
I took that big deep breath, recalled hide’s call to me, and remembered my own words….
… “I BELIEVE!!”…..

Everything went fine, and there was never any questioning, all there was were smiles and comments about my Kawaii (cute) passport photo. I went to get a new Passport in Australia so yeah it has a photo of me with Pink hair and well it’s a color photo.

Next month, May 2nd, is the sad anniversary of hide’s death (1998), and Miura Reien will be crowded with people who want to pay their respect and vent their sadness.
This fact in conjunction with the gratitude I felt for keeping the ‘promise’ to me and the wonderful chance I had this same night (Sunday April 15th) to see DIE-san at Club Sensation again in Yokohama…
Well it all added up to a need to come up here again this day.
Saturday was a painful day physically and the night was filled with pain in every joint. When I woke up this Sunday morning I immediately felt that “NO, there’s is just no way I can make it up there today!”
My illness was back full force. I was dizzy, nauseated, and my spine in so much pain that I cried in my bed when I woke up.
Around 10 am Phoe-Lo knocked at my door, and I was almost about to give up getting out of my bed and walk over to the door about 12 ft away. BUT
I mustered the will-power and did it.
Mostly I think I was disappointed … my illness had been dormant for so long that I was somehow in the delusion that it had disappeared for ever….and here it was… making itself heard again with a violent cry.
Phoe-Lo said she understood that I must stay here… and then it all hit me…

NOOOOOO! I cannot stay here! I HAVE to go! I have the tools to overcome any pain…  Pain is in the mind….

I asked her too please be patient with me today, and to help me push for what must be done…
so we went!
Slowly yes, with pain yes, BUT I did it!!
I couldn’t eat anything, I had to move carefully not to fall or black-out….

to be continued in a moment…