Ridiculous architecture, superfriendly people, great food, land of the blow fish, brilliant street markets and of course the best old school neon I have ever seen. Did I mention that I love Osaka? Photos taken in the Dotonbori area and in apparently one of Japanese most dangerous areas – Shin Sekai (beware of the dodgy folk in their equally dodgy fur jackets.)
It’s the last song we attempted to record but it turned out too difficult and impossible to get the sound we wanted for certain parts and I also got very frustrated with it and almost threw my laptop out the window. It’s here sitting on my hard drive gathering dust so I thought I would share it anyways (on our myspace player). The end is a bit silly, I am aware of that.
The cool photo above is from our ridiculously messy last gig at Tokyo Gig Gig Farm Party #1 back in January. Tokyo Gig Guide Farm Party #2 take place on the April 17th. Here is the facebook event page.
Out of all the amazing and mind boggling Japanese architecture, traditional Japanese castles really do come out on top of the rest. Yes, even above the 1000’s of temples and shrines. It’s hard to describe how monstrously big they are especially Osaka-jo and they are usually surrounded by brilliant parks. Here are some castles I visited while I was in Japan (I somehow managed to forget to check out the castle in Kyoto on my 2 visits!.. next time!). Oh some castle etiquette below too…… no scribbles.
Himeji-jo/ White Heron
(only original castle le /bombed twice in WW2 but survived)
Odawara-jo / Crow Castle
Some castle etiquette… very important!
I could go on about how nice and relaxing Hiroshima is and how nice the people are but there is one thing that overshadows it all – The Atomic Bomb. The first city to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon [1945, August 16th, 8.15am]. I spent my first day wandering around the peace memorial park which was scattered with lots of monuments and the spooky remnants of the A-bomb Dome. I took all my photos in black and white. It was raining, cloudy, my feet were soggy, my umbrella was broke and I was standing at the hypocenter of the atomic bomb. It seemed rather fitting. I finished my day off with a trip to the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Museum. Incredibly disturbing and numbing stuff but glad I went. It was the first museum where I heard people gagging and seeing people trying to hold back their tears…
I have been home exactly a week now and to be honest I am surprised how much I am liking it and how easy it was to get back into the swing of things. It was like I had gone no where. I have already adjusted to my new surroundings, overweight people, massive food portions and a chronic drinking culture. These are some things that I noticed as soon as I landed outside Asia. We eat and drink a lot. The same people are here doing the same things. It’s a lot different to Tokyo where people move around a lot and sometimes people seem to just disappear without notice! The weathers picked up, the snowdrops are out, it’s really peaceful and everything seems a lot cheaper. Ireland really is a brilliant place to get some peace and quiet and I can see why my siblings like coming home from London now. I think after living in the hustle bubble of Tokyo you really do begin to appreciate simple things like grass, trees, birds and even wild animals. It’s just great to see it all again. I went for a walk earlier and within five minutes I had passed a river, a lake (with ducks!) and an abandoned railway from the 50s. There is so much even at my doorstep and I have been completely oblivious to it for the past 25 or so years! I guess moving away to a big concrete city in Asia for a year really does open your eyes.
So what’s next? Well, I am going to take some well deserved time off which I am currently liking a lot. Not sure how long it will take. One or two months maybe. I hope to learn how to drive, help Dad out with various jobs he has on the go and I am going to whip all my instruments out and try and get some songs recorded and finished and maybe even try to get some sort of album together. It’s something I never really get a chance to do as I am always moving around but now I have some time so it’s a good opportunity to do something I think. Looking for job is not my priority right now.
As for this blog, I have quite a few more posts to do but I can’t do anything until I find a Japanese to European plug adapter for my external hard drive!
Also, check out this brilliant mess/art installation in my back garden that my dad some how managed to make. I call it “mutilated bike on blue mesh”. I can almost picture how frustrated my Dad was that day!
Well, I have arrived back in Tokyo from my two week trip around Japan. I had an absolute blast and met some of the nicest people I have ever met. I went to Nagano, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, Hiroshima and Miyajima. I slept in capsules, internet cafes, hostels, a park, a coffee shop, business hotels and some night buses. It might seem like I was roughing it but it’s what a lot of fun really. I really have too many things to mention about the trip so I will give them their own blog posts in the coming weeks when I get home – from a 6am monk ceremony in temple in Nagano, to monk training in Kyoto under a waterfall to making my own cup noodle in a noodle museum in Osaka to the overwhelming Hiroshima peace memorial museum which left me numb. All the cities were incredibly different and each had their own food culture and interesting customs and dialect. Osaka and Hiroshima were extra special but, for completely different reasons.
I am currently sitting in a mates house in Koenji (2.05am) and I am heading to Narita airport in a few hours. How am I feeling? Excited, nervous, tired, delirious, a little drunk, empty. I’m really not giving it much thought as I know I will just get upset if I think about it too much. It was pretty depressing saying goodbye to to people at the train station. My year here has been an incredible experience and I am incredibly lucky to have spent the year here considering I had no job or place to stay when I got here. I even squeezed in two trips to Thailand which were brilliant. My first month in Tokyo was pretty strange, adjusting to culture which has pretty much no similarities to Irish culture (small rooms, thin walls, small people, skinny jeans, shoes that don`t fit, hitting my head of everything, banging my knees into restaurant tables, strange looking food, dogs in coats, cats in coats, bowing, octopus, shouting on streets/dead atmosphere on trains, humid weather, earthquakes, not having a towel when washing hands in the bathroom, electric toilets, no English, train suicides, noise, queuing, queuing for queues, talking about queuing for queues, gargling, talking about food, eating food, strange food programs on TV, infomercials, packed trains, Manga, insane fashion trends…… an endless list) and I was doubtful about finding teaching work and even considered heading home after 3 months. Everything eventually fell into place which was a relief and I settled in after about a month. It takes time and it can be incredibly frustrating when starting up.
Some fond memories – Kyudo (Japanese archery) through Japanese, cherry blossom parties, karaoke, Walkie Talkie in the Cornfield rehearsals and concerts, the many Japanese crazy bands I saw over here in really amazing venues, doing a voice over for the Washington Post, reading Shakespeare at the top of a building in Koenji, walking around Koenji in the snow, getting off trains randomly during my first month and getting lost, my first trip to Osaka, scuba diving in Koh Tao and getting certified (Thailand), Universal Studios Japan, learning Japanese, Awa Odori festival in Koenji, ChiChibu night festival, the recent Mochi lifting contest in Kyoto… I could go on and on!
Thanks to the following people for really helping me out in my first few months and making my stay that little bit more interesting, comfortable and fun! I will see you all again I am sure – Craig, Teffrey + Shige, Tomo, Taka, Hatsumi, Rob, Caron.
Mam and Dad – I am coming to get you! See some of you soon!