I visited LA for Christmas and New Years. It was awesome seeing everyone again as it had been over a year since being back. The place hasn't changed much, but it was really strange walking around inside my family's house with shoes on. I just had to take them off. Obviously, Japan is rubbing off on me. Soon my name will be Takashi Furuta or something. I didn't do much in LA other than hang out with friends and gorge myself on massive American portions. That was the point of the trip.
I had a concert in Osaka recently. The show went really well, and I dug the reactions I got from people; however, I didn't sell many CDs. Then after the show, the MC of the show asked me to pay a $220 stage fee. I was expecting a stage fee, but I didn't expect it to be this much. I paid it, but explained that the last time I played I paid nothing. Later that night, he gave me my money back in an envelope. I dunno what that was all about, but I hope I didn't damage any relationships there.
Kayo came with me to Osaka, so we decided to make a weekend out of it. The following day we went to this indoor water park in Osaka called "Spa World." The main floor of the multi-floor building was done-up like a beach complete with plastic palm trees, a lazy river trekking through caverns, waterfalls, and synthetic beach sand composed of artificial grass-like material. I can't express how awesome it was swimming and going on waterslides in the dead of winter.
I then had a concert in Tottori. It went really well, and the enthusiastic reaction from the audience was very encouraging. I went back to the club a few days later to setup another show, and the guy said that I could play the following evening. So I had another concert at the same place less than a week later. Again, the reaction was very positive, and this time I sold more CDs. The staff at the club really seem to like me, so it hasn't been a problem getting shows at that place. The mixing guy even bought my CD.
I Love Japanese Web Shopping
I recently ordered some music equipment from an large online Japanese marketplace known as Rakuten. I love ordering online in Japan cuz it comes sooooo quickly. You can even specify the date/time you want it delivered. I dig that because you can schedule a time when you'll be at home. I guess that's one bonus of living in a small country. They have their logistics down.
CA Boy in the Snow
It started snowing the other day, and it just continued for like 2 days. I felt like I was in the movie "The Day After Tomorrow." I was gonna hole myself up in my apartment and start burning books. There's still a ton of snow everywhere, so I'm trying to figure out a way to snowboard to work. Living with snow sucks, but the local snowboarding resorts are awesome.
I had a mild cold that I have since gotten over. Don't you love it when you have a cold, and everyone gives you advice like their advice is some big scientific breakthrough? I've had a few colds in my life, so I think I know what to do by now. "Drink lots of orange juice." "Get some rest." Wow! I've never heard that one before! Thanks, doctor! And I was just gonna go run naked through the snow in the hopes of improving my condition.
English Play in Tottori?
I watched an all-English stage play recently. It was really odd watching an English play in Tottori. They must've had just about every Westerner in Tottori in it (except me). The play was called "Teechers," and it was some satire about the British education system. The acting was good, but I thought the play was poorly-written. The plot was complicated and didn't really have a point. Also, the actors were all from different English-speaking countries, so when the Scottish girls spoke, I was like, "What are you saying???" I wanted to turn on the subtitles as I do when I watch "Trainspotting." I think most of the Japanese audience had a hard time understanding it. Whenever there was a joke, only the foreigners in the audience laughed.
Many Many Concerts
I've been playing many concerts in Tottori lately, and each gets better than the next. Last time the club was packed--I went up on stage, and I said "konbanwa" (good evening) to start the show. The club erupted in cheers and clapping. Maybe the massive amounts of alcohol being consumed had something to do with that. People even sang and clapped along. It was such a rush.
I even tried my looping pedal on one song, and it came out surprisingly well. I "borrowed" the idea from Joseph Arthur (one of my favorite songwriters), but it seemed like no one has ever seen live looping in Tottori. I played my new song "NHK Guy" about the guy that comes to my house once in a while to collect money for public television. There was recently a huge embezzling scandal at NHK, so the timing was excellent. People really seemed to dig it because the laughter was so loud it was hard to hear my own voice while singing. The manager came up to me and said that I am always welcome to play--especially songs like those. I have an idea for a new song called "You Guys Make Really Good Sauce" about how Japanese sauce is really good.
I occurred to me that a foreigner singing Japanese songs in countryside Japan is not something often seen. Maybe this silly experiment of mine flourishes based on sheer novelty. I don't really care as long as people laugh. Coming from a family with 3 other pay-attention-to-me siblings, I feast on attention as vampires feast on fresh blood.
Listen to my Demo
I stopped by a record store in Tottori and gave them a sample CD to listen to and asked them to contact me if they were interested in it. They never did. :-(
So I went back to the same store a week later, and just asked them if they listened to the CD and if so what they thought. At the very least I could get some helpful feedback. They said they loved the CD and sent it to their other store (they are a chain) for them to hear too. The manager at the store I visited said that everyone loved the CD, and they want 20 of them (10 at each store) to try as a "trial sale." They also want me to do an in-store live show at their larger store (their larger store is inside the big Jusco here in Tottori).
I stopped by again another week later to hopefully set up the show. The manager told me that his friend is a newspaper reporter for Nihon Kai newspaper, and she wants to do a story about me. He asked if it was ok. I said "of course!" As for the show, he said we can wait until after the newspaper article comes out and set it up for sometime in April (cuz the weather is better and more people will be there).
This experience taught me the importance of following-up, and that this store manager is a great person to know!
Newspaper Article II
I met this nice woman Ayako at a cafe for the interview. The whole interview was in Japanese, but she spoke extremely slowly and clearly so I was able to understand her really well. This puts me at ease because it tells me that she has had previous experience communicating with foreigners and thus knows how to communicate clearly. Maybe that's how and why of her being a journalist. Just in case I got confused, I had my handy electronic dictionary close at hand.
She asked mostly questions about my "Mondaiji" music project, and she even took a picture of me holding my CD. I purposely wore this T-shirt my friends had given me as a going away gift that says "Crazy White Man" in Japanese. Now that T-shirt is gonna be in the newspaper. I've also been wearing it to my concerts.
Anyways, the article is supposed to come out Wednesday, but Ayako's gonna call me to tell me exactly when. During the interview my boss Akiko ran into me and gave me a surprised look. She must've thought I was on a date or something cuz I was talking to some random girl at a cafe (Ayako is my age). Luckily, Ayako explained. I had also told Kayo about the interview, so no worries there. Jeez. Small town! I gotta be careful. Anything and everything I do is gonna end up in the newspaper in this town.
Before moving to Tokyo, I taught English in a countryside prefecture known as Tottori. I loved it there. My only complaint was my noisy neighbor that liked to...
April Fools! My bosses Akiko and Maiko played an April Fools joke on me. They pulled me into the interview room and told me that I had to be let go. I kinda b...