Scrap and I toured Japan in June; we got together with a band from Tokyo (from Kasukabe, in the suburbs, actually) called Uhnellys; they drove us around the country, playing right before us every night, on bills that would include three or four other Japanese bands. It was pretty hardscrabble; ten day tour, ten shows, no days off. Fatiguing, but wonderful; Kim and Midi, the bass/vocal and drummer duo that make up the Uhnellys, are fantastic people, and a fantastic band, and I felt like I got a view of Japan I wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t toured with a local band.
I don’t even have a record out there–haven’t been to Japan since a two-gig trip in 1997–and yet there were 30 or 50 people at each show (including three shows in Tokyo–!!), and we kept encountering those legendary Japanese fans that are so devoted, and freaked out, giving us small gifts and trembling when they met us. Amazingly, too, outside of Tokyo, most of the audiences were made up entirely of Japanese–usually Americans come crawling out of the woodwork for American bands.
Everywhere I looked, there was something fascinating; I have roughly a billion pictures that I hope to post eventually. Despite this, and despite the wonderfulness of the whole scene, when I got lonely, I got homesick, it was such an alienating environment, everything utterly other for a Westerner. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten homesick on tour.
One of the gigs was at a store in Kumagaya called Mortar Records. It may have been my favorite show of the tour. There was a tiny space with a low ceiling upstairs from the store; people sat Indian-style on the floor.