Editor’s note: In January, SF’s Grandma’s Boyfriend toured Japan for the second time, playing six shows in Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto and Osaka. When they returned, the guys sent us this recap and collection of photos from their trip.
Most surprising thing: Finding a niche of people in Japan that are extremely interested in Bay Area music. There’s even a record store in Tokyo which stocks a surprising amount of independent Bay Area music. We scored a ton of Japanese editions of old 45s and were laced with music (CDs, tapes, records) by almost every band we played with.
Scariest moment: Either stumbling upon a street in Osaka’s red light district flanked with young 20-something prostitutes being pimped out by grandmas or smoking “fake weed” for the first time and tripping pretty hard.
Cuttiest moment: After our first show, our new friends took us out to an all-you-can-drink spot. We all got black out drunk and somehow lost our entire stock of merch (records, tapes, shirts). Luckily Jin, of No People, found it and got it back to us the next day.
The food situation: We ate mostly out of convenience stores. 7-11 food in Japan is ten times better than that in America. Even so, it’s still 7-11 food and not really all that good for you. There’s an abundance of fried food everywhere (grocery stores, street vendors, restaurants). It’s pretty difficult if you’re a vegetarian on a limited budget. We tried to branch out a bit and ate at some really good noodle shops and other cutty Japanese restaurants. We also tried to take multi-vitamins daily.
The drink situation: Far from home and obvious outsiders, we found ourselves drinking more heavily than we usually do in the states. Whisky is pretty cheap and of slightly better quality than Ancient Age (bottom shelf Suntory’s, Nikka). Suntory’s is kinda the Coca-Cola of Japan and seems to own almost everything.
The money situation: It’s very easy to spend lots of money in Japan. The US dollar is only worth something like 88 Yen. Japan uses mostly coin denominations of money so it’s kind of hard to keep track of how much you’re spending as everything seems to cost only one or two coins.
The style situation: The sweater game is a lot tougher out in Japan. We saw some of the sickest sweaters we’ve ever seen. Almost everyone seems to pay a lot more attention to fashion/clothing choices in Japan. We were definitely some of the bummiest lookin dudes in Japan.
The sleep situation: With the exception of the first three or four nights, we crashed on people’s floors for the duration of the trip. Our friends Fumi and his brother (Sato Army) were kind enough to put us up for about a week in their dojo turned apartment in Tokyo. They gave us the locals-only treatment and are some of the best people we’ve ever met. In Kyoto we stayed with an ex-pat, Lucky, in his tiny apartment. We took turns sharing the top bunk and floor and blankets as there wasn’t much space. In Osaka we crashed in a music venue that exists in the subway(!). It reminded us of Burnt Ramen or Thrillhouse. They party pretty hard almost every night. One of the owners’ band, Red Sneakers, introduced us to members of Shonen Knife on the last night of our tour.
We met so many awesome people that we are forever indebted to. Extremely special thank-yous to: Recess Japan, Underground Government, Todd, Jin, Fumi, The Legend, No People, The Steadys, V/ACATION, FFEECO WOMAN, ???, The Nowheres, Hiromi, Lucky, Yosei, Red Sneakers, Sengoku Daitouryo, Nishiogikubo Flat, Tono, Hime, Maneki Neko, Ryotaro, Masa, and everyone we met and played with on the way.