Monday, January 21, 2008
12/31/07: Before the dawn of the rat
New years eve day has never been so much fun. With no real agenda for the day we had just set out to do some exploring, some getting lost, and making some tourist mistakes. We walked around the Sensō-ji shrine next to our hostel. New Years in Japan is a pretty major holiday for them so there was a lot of people just hanging around and eating street-meat at the big fairs going on.
Just hanging with the big man Buddha, no biggie.
We went to Ueno Park which was pretty close to where we were staying. Craig picked up his now infamous pouch here. We walked all around the park and saw lots of pretty cool stuff here.
Just hanging with Willy.
Carms with some friendly feral cat.
Read the tag. Probably the coolest cat I've ever seen, Wallabees are expensive in Japan.
Running out of ideas for the day we decided to head over to the Shinjuku area which is where the Burning Spirits gig was later on. Shinjuku is somewhat of a business district and hosts the some of the largest buildings in Tokyo, including the infamous Park Hyatt from Lost In Translation. Being tourists we figured we would check that out and possibly get some drinks (Suntory Whiskey for me) at the bar. Looking at the map of Shinjuku we found "the hyatt" on there and proceeded to make our way over. Inside the lobby we were kind of skeptical of it being the same Hyatt, but we assured ourselves by saying "it just looks different on film". We went to the bar on the second floor and sat down. After ordering 9 dollar espressos we came to the conclusion that this was the wrong Hyatt and the map proved us right when we saw that theres a Park Hyatt right down the street.
most expensive espresso I've ever had, but worth it for the funny story.
We walked down to the proper Hyatt, it was worth all the trouble. Beautiful hotel, and the view from the 49th floor was truly amazing. Unfortunately I only have shots of that on film and haven't had a chance to develop them yet. Also the bar from Lost In Translation was closed at the time, but we walked around and took pictures.
Next on the agenda was making our way over to try and find where the Burning Spirits New Years Eve gig was at, luckily it was also in Shinjuku. After finding the general vicinity of where Earthdom (venue) was at we decided to have a New Years Feast of Kaiten Sushi. Eel, Fatty Tuna, Octopus and others were eaten and enjoyed thoroughly. We found where the venue was at, barely, it was marked by almost no signs other than a small chalk board in front of a staircase leading to a basement in front of a building. I have to admit that this was the first time since I was 15 that I was sketched out about going to a hardcore show. The dudes hanging in front of the venue all rolled up on motorcycles and had some pretty gnarly gear on, I would best compare them to characters out of Mad Max. Also being foreigners we weren't quite sure how the local punks would take to us.
Crossface, first time I heard them but I thought they were pretty sick.
The Slowmotions, I hadn't heard this band until tonight but damn was I floored. Definitely one of my favorite bands that I've seen in a while.
Warhead played at the dawn of 2008, nothing like bringing in the New Years with insanely loud blistering Japanese Hardcore.
Possibly the most epic picture of all time. The guy in the back with long hair played drums in Bastard and the other guy plays guitar in Forward, and the dude in the front was the coolest guy I've ever met. We were just hanging out taking it all in and that dude was walking around with a giant bottle of Sake in his hand. He came up to us and ask us if we were from America, we said yes. He then asked us if we liked Bastard, "YOU LIKE BASTARD!?", we replied with an enthusiastic yes. He then introduced us to the drummer of Bastard, and also proceeded to try and find out people for us to meet. He also introduced us to the singer of Forward who was also in Deathside, Ishiya, who dropped some real wisdom on us... it was awesome. When I first got into hardcore it was by way of Japanese Hardcore that was shown to me by some of my elders, so this was pretty epic for me. A real "burning spirits" night. The gig was an all night gig but we decided to bounce after Warhead and pray to find a way home, luckily since it was New Years the JR Line was running late and we were able to get back to Asakusa. At 1 in the morning there was tons of people out in the streets, the latest we've seen any action. A lot of drunk Japanese folks celebrating the forthcoming of the rat. I have to make a note that the first thing we ate in 2008 was McDonalds, second time on the trip. All in all a pretty amazing New Years, one that was spent in the company of good friends and where some new ones were made.