Turning Japanese with Dan Dynotone

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Every year, DJ Dan goes to Japan to visit friends and extended family. This year, I asked him to be our Barflies.net correspondent:

"Everybody always asks me what I do every time I visit Japan. This being my 5th visit, I decided to make an effort to write down as much as I could of the things I did when I was there this time.

Here are some of the highlights of this trip:

December 25th - Exchanging Christmas gifts with my Japanese friends. I never thought this would ever happen, completely blew my mind. Who says you canít have Christmas in Japan?

December 26th - Ratholic at Gabi Gabi in Harajuku. Ratholic is an instrumental Surf band from Yokohama featuring all girls except for the guitar player. The girls wore matching dresses and we gave the guitar player a hard time for not having a matching dress. They played a mix of originals and covers. They had a perfect sound with keyboards, and saxophone to round it all out. This was an all night event and they went on at 12:30pm. The place was a small pub owned by the singer on the Japanese Rockabilly band The Rizlas. The Heineken on tap was good, but it cost 900 yen, which is about 9 dollars per glass! We didnít stay for the other bands; we were told that they werenít very good, so we left early. On the way home it snowed!

December 30th - ìGarage Rockin Crazeî, Shinjuku Loft. This was another all night event that started at 12am. We arrived at 12am and the first band Jet Boys started around 12:30. Jet Boys were a punk rock trio with a 40 year old singer/guitar player who gets completely naked when he performs. Thankfully they only played 4 songs. Then there was Taka who used to play keyboards for the surf band Jackie & the Cedrics. I had no idea he was a DJ as well as an excellent keyboard player. He did an amazing DJ set full of scratching his records, doing hand stands on top of his keyboards, and proceeded to light his keyboards on fire at the end of his set! Next were the 5,6,7,8ís, this show was to feature the original line up from the early 80ís. They just came out with a new CD of material from this line up, so they were only going to do a couple of shows to promote the CD. I was quite surprised when they hit the stage wearing 80ís clothing and whipped cream all over their faces. Their set was about 25 minutes long with them doing a very rocking version of the Go Goís ìWe Got The Beatî. I love this band, check out their performance in Quentin Tarantinoís latest movie ìKill Bill Vol. 1. The best band of the evening was the Young Parisians. A Japanese glam band with every member of the band dressed up in glam garb. They looked absolutely fantastic, and they sounded great! I was a bit disappointed that they only played 7 songs, but ended with ìAll The Young Dudesî. After their set, we decided to leave at 4am. We wanted to see our friends Jackie and Enocky play, but they were scheduled to go around 6:30 and there were 3 other bands scheduled before their set. It was a great show even though we left a few hours early.

January 3 - This was my last day in Japan. I started the day by meeting my friends at Buddyís store at 10:30 am. Our first stop was to do some shopping at Costco which is about an hours drive by car. We took 3 cars, and I got to ride in Enockyís van with him and Jun. I canít tell how weird it was listening to Buck Owens ìLive in Japanî CD while riding in the car. We all took turns being the DJ in the car. Who would have guessed that Van Halenís first album would be the hit of the day! Afterwards we went to a record store that was having a half off sale on used CDís. We all walked out of there with a couple of CDís each, and didnít pay more than a 1,000 yen! Now it was time for dinner, and do my friends like to eat. We decided to go out for Korean BBQ were you can cook your food right on the table. While we ate were talking about music, and then we started asking what was the first concert we ever saw. The responses were seeing Miles Davis in a small auditorium, Ted Nugent at Budokan, and the Ramones at a kabuki theatre! Do you see why I keep coming back? It just gets better and better every time I visit.

Here is what an average day is like:

AM - Usually wake up between 5 and 7, depends on the jetlag. I could not get over it the whole time I was there during this visit. Iíll go for a walk around 8am. No stores or shops are open, only convenient stores. There are convenient store like 7-ll, AM-PM, Lawson, and others that are on every block! Around 9am I return home and have breakfast. Usually eat some fruit or bread from one of the local markets. Between 10am and 12pm Iíll either go shopping at the big department store located in the train station that is only a few blocks away or go to one of the local game centers and play video games. I got reacquainted Street Fighter Zero with characters I had never seen before. Once the local kids saw a gaijin (tourist) they would watch me play and give me tips on how to use the special moves. The younger kids know English better than the adults. I wish they had pinball machines in their arcades, but they donít in the Kokubunji area.

PM - Most shops and small stores are open for business at 12pm. There are 4 small record stores nearby where I am staying. One record store is right next door! Since I canít read kanji I have to literally go through everything. Most of the stores are categorized by Rock, Jazz, Blues, and Japanese Pops. You wonít find Bob Dylan under ìDî, itís under ìBî. After awhile you catch on as to how they alphabetize. Iíll spend 2 or 3 hours easy looking at records and CDís, afterwards Iíll go home and have lunch or eat out somewhere with the wife and mother-in-law. Maybe Iíll take a nap in the mid afternoon for a couple of hours or go to Rat Motor Beat. Rat Motor Beat is a vintage store my friends Buddy and Misuzu have in Kokubunji; itís on the other side of the train station where Iím staying. Itís only a 5 minute walk to get there. While Iím there we will listen to music and talk in English and Japanese. Buddy plays in a band called Charlie & the Hot Wheels. They sound like the Ramones meet the Beach Boys. I saw them play last year and they really kick ass! He always takes me to shows and gets us on the guest list. He and his wife are the best tour guides ever! Heíll close his shop around 8pm and weíll either go out to dinner or Iíll meet up with him later to go to a concert. If I go home for dinner, weíll usually pick up something from a local shop and eat at home. It can be a lot cheaper this way. Not much to do after dinner except watch t.v.or listen to music. Watching t.v. with the sound off and playing Japanese sixties tunes is one of the things I like to do at home. The weather this trip was perfect, it didnít rain at all the whole time there. Everyday was sunny and the temperatures were around 60 degrees!

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Thanks Dan! Sounds like you had a great holiday in Japan....can I go with next time? hee hee :-)

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