Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tokyo Journey Journal Part 5: The End

Day 5:

Finally, my journey written in stone. For the ages. The internet will never die, and these written words will be read by Joel and me's families for generations to come.

So, the day has arrived, and I am....out of money, and so is Joel. I am basically relying on him because, for some bizarre reason, it's really hard to find atm's that will take international bank or credit cards. You have to go to the post office to do it, and it's Saturday which means, I'm out of luck. So, I have to use Joel's funds one more time for the train back to Korea. Joel and I are in pretty low spirits. Just too much of a good thing for too long will do that to a couple of crazy wild dogs.

At the airport train station, I decide that now will be good time to actually take some pictures, which I had neglected to do the entire trip, so here's one:

Unfortunately, Joel lost his body, and only his head survived...just kidding. Not funny. Anyway, here's another one of Joel. This one's for the ladies:

Good times. I hope to do it again soon. Maybe take a nature course next time. Tokyo is too busy.

Tokyo Journey Journal Part 4: Loverman

Day 4:

I think it may have been the booze and the lack of sleep all week, but my spirits were very depleted on day four. At least for most of the day. Anyway, today was shopping day. So, we hit the road (or subway) in the afternoon.

The previous day had been rainy, and it was no longer hot. Today...was overcast, and kinda cold, but no rain until evening. So, Joel took me to this shopping center/flea market type place in, I believe, Koenji? Is that right, Joel? Anyway, wherever it was, it was great. There was a wonderful porn store there....well, maybe "wonderful" is a strong word for it, since some of the girls on the covers looked very much under 18. Welcome to Japan. BUT, there was another store there (actually, there were many stores there), that specialized in bizarre comics and books, and experimental music. Not knowing much about the book/comic department (though it was strange, to say the least) I scooted on over to the cd's. Lots of Japanese stuff, some of which I bought just for the cover. So, 3 cd's, and another cd for Joel. I got a reissue of a 1990 album by the Japanese noise band Hijokaidan (called "Romance", it looks very serene on the cover, but, trust me, I only could get through 10 minutes of it. The thing is, I used to buy noise stuff back in my twenties, but these days my ears just can't handle all those high frequencies...low frequencies are great...lower the better. Bass rules!), and I also picked up a psych n folk compilation called "The Night Gallery 2: 21st Century West Psychedelia", which is pretty great, and I'll probably post that on here one of these days. The other one I bought purely for the cover, and then I gave it to a nice girl that I sat next to on the plane. Don't worry, pretty sure it was not noise. Anyway, the majority of the music was of an experimental/noise/psych type of vein. Well worth checking out if you are ever in Koenji....and if I can find the name.

So, we left and walked and drank sake from a self heating can, but we couldn't figure out how that worked. The can did get very hot, though. And we drank some beer, and we went to some other place in Koenji....I think. And it was time for me to eat the RAW CHICKEN. Hell yeah. And it was good. Served sashimi style at a chicken yakatori bar. So, we ate that and other chicken parts and one dish with a raw egg dumped over the bbq'ed chicken. Everything was great. Plus, Joel's sweet lady (Aya was her name) showed up with a friend. At that point, my spirits were high again, and Joel's was dipping. I won't get into that, but his lady sure is a pretty one. Her friend was kinda cute too, but not really, but I didn't care.

After the chicken place we went....to....another place and ate and drank and talked to some Japanese at a nearby table. The dude tried to kiss me even though his lady was sitting right beside him. It was weird. Anyway, we're in gear, so we head off to the karoke room, which ruled, and had way better stuff than the Korean ones. The Judas Priest songs even had real guitar on it instead of keyboards. Man, that was fun. I did The Smiths, and Joy Division and some other stuff. And then it ended. And I was sad. And the girls left. So Joel n I slept at the Karoke room a few more hours until the train opened and then we dragged ourselves in a gloomy ass way off to his place for a few hours of shut eye before my triumphant departure.

I found this interesting little biography on Hijokaidan translated by Alan Cummings here. Check it out. It's not the most listenable style of music, but their stories are interesting, and actually if you play some of it at a low volume, it kinda works like ambient music. However, if there's too much feedback, that kinda kills the ambient buzz. I also recommend Merzbow and Masonna.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Tokyo Journey Journal Part 3: Japanese Dentonites

Day 3:

Alright, I need to start getting this down a lil faster, cuz my memory is already slipping about events. So, day 3, Joel has this day off (Thursday) so we get up, and don't do much until we hear from Megumi (Meg to you). Meg is a friend from Denton, and she's about as Denton as a Japanese person can get. Which means she's very Denton. In a good way. We are also going to meet her beau (Toshi or Toshiro....I never can remember his name. Good guy, though.) who used to live in S.F. and another ex-Dentonite, the lovely Yasuko, who I vaguely remember from some place in Denton.

We meet up with them at around 3 or so, and Meg takes us into these little back alley joints (in Shinjuku, which we were just in the previous night). Small dirty little venues for eating and drinking. Oh, and it's raining, which kinda makes this area seem even more cooler. Japan is like Korea in that they both eat when they're drinking, and drink when they're eating. Good combination, I think. So, we get some draft beer (served by a robotic beer dispenser, don't know what else to say about it), and some yakatori, and a bowl of soup filled with intestines and shit I like, and Joel hates. It's all great fun, chit-chattin' and catchin' up. Next, Meg and gang takes us into the Golden Gai area where we find a place that let's us stay there without paying an extra fee (they charge you for just sitting down in those lil bars, like $20 or more) and we continue eating yakatori and drinking. Meg and I got hooked on the deep fried cheese balls, but it was all good. After that, Yasuko had to leave us cuz of work the next day (ㅠㅠㅠ) so we decide to go back to Meg's and smoke some MOTHER FUCKIN' WEED, DOG. Shit, that was good. We watched some Pulp Fiction too, and some other stuff. It was all good confusing. Anyway, Joel n I left at some point, and headed back to the homestead. We stopped at McDonald's on the way back and fuckin' chewed on that and passed out and dreamed of angels.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tokyo Journey Journal Part 2: Folk

Day 2:

Joel had to work on this day (Wednesday), so I lounged around a bit, and then decided to go for a run by the river near his home (River Ara? I think that's the name). It was hot that day, but the heat would end after that. After a shower, I went out, and walked around looking for Yellow Pop Records (which was mentioned in an earlier post). In the meantime, I ate at blessed 102 again. Usually, I like to try different things when I travel, but that shit is too good. In the restaurant, I asked a couple of handsome young men where a good record store was. They told me, and it wasn't there, BUT I walked in another direction and found Yellow Pop! Good place, and I already mentioned what I bought in a previous post. Then I headed back.

When Joel got off work, we decided to skip dinner for the moment and see some folk music down in Tokyo. It was at this bar (I believe), and the night was called "Chihana presents: Basement Tapes - Deluxe Edition". Now, there was nothing original about the music, but it was fun, and they are all great players. We got there at the tail end of Chihana's folk set. Chihana is a 22 year old female virtuoso around those parts. And she obviously has a deep seated love for pure Americana folk n country. Good for her.

Next was Suemarr, a banjo playin', Band lovin, and overall nice guy. He was accompanied by a lady (Joel help with the name, please) that also played guitar, and had just a really peaceful, almost levitational quality about her. Marriage material. Good set of mostly covers.

Lastly, was The Basement Tapes. Featuring Chihana on guitar along with 3 other guitar players, one of which was a dead ringer for a 70's era Waylon Jennings. This was definitely some rockin' country roll. Fun stuff. On the way out, Chihana stopped us, and talked to us for a bit. Joel neglected to get her phone number.

After leaving, one thing led to another, and....we decided to stick around Tokyo all night. First thing, we headed for an Izakaya in Shinjuku. We drank more, ate some delicious raw horse meat, and other goodies. Slept. Talked about talking to some girls another table. Slept. Ate some ice cream with a brownie in it, and finally made it out the door to hit up the Golden Gai area at around 4 am.

We went into a place called....something, but it had The Who on the door, so that was enough. It was pretty cool. Closed in, very little space, but comfortable. The bar owner was happy to see us, and talked a while with us. I don't remember if he used english or japanese. Joel knows some of their language. He's smart. Anyway, no ladies for the night, we went home and slept, excited about what was in store for us the following day.

I really shoulda taken some pics. The picture of Chihana above was taken off the internet.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tokyo Journey Journal, Part 1: The Beginning

Day One:

Early start, semi-early flight. 10 a.m. Took only a little over an hour to get from Suwon to Incheon airport. Left my home at a little before 6. I'm glad I had gotten there early cuz I stood in line waiting to check in for an hour. The check-in lady was nice. Get her phone number next time. After that, it was pretty smooth, all the way to Tokyo. Once in Tokyo it was like clockwork. It took at least 2 hours and maybe more to get to Joel's, but they were good directions.

Laid around on his floor, and thought about putting porn on his computer. Watched Team America instead. Drank some delicious Yebisu while waiting. That shit blows away any Korean beer. Once Joel arrived from work, I neatly tea-bagged him, and then we were off to eat at (I think) Joel's favorite style of Ramen called Tsukemen at a place in Kawaguchi called 102. That shit blew my mind. Here's how it works: They (the Japanese) give you two bowls - one for the soup and another with the cold noodles (you can also get an optional side dish with goodies on it, which we did). You take the noodles and dip it in the rich, creamy broth, and then shove it down your throat. Here's what makes it so good: the pork in the soup (and in the side dish) is this big chunk of super tender meat. So good, reminds me of the pork chops at Smitty's BBQ in Lockhart, Tejas. Even the fat was yum. On the side dish was a boiled egg, but not just any, cuz when you took a bite of that shit, the yolk just came pouring out like an over medium fried egg. Next, they had this big black rock that they would drop in your soup and it would make your soup boil! Can you believe that? A hot rock to boil your soup. Anyway, best meal I had. Thanks, Joel.

Next, we went to his friend's bar in....somewhere. It was a cool little dive bar, and the owner really likes folk music. He played some old Ry Cooder, The Band and Flying Burrito Bros., and some other stuff that made no impression on me. We drank a great little Japanese beer that I had never heard of before.....and now I can't remember the name. Really good. Joel, you gotta fill in the blanks for me in the comments. We also drank some great shochu. And then we went home, filled with overwhelming joy for humanity.