Land of the Rising Sun - August 10
The rising sun
Steps to the shinto shrine
Steve and Amanda, Club Citta soundcheck
Roger, Club Citta soundcheck
I visited Japan at the end of a long work cycle of gigs, but I felt renewed and energised rather than drained by it. Of course the flight and time difference always creates inevitable jet lag, but somehow we all felt the magic of Japan buoy us up.
From afar, the sense of Japan is grasped as if looking through a silk screen at a distant planet. Close up you experience their exquisite sense of beauty and attention to detail. The Japanese crew photographed everything. If your Marshall amp happens to be cranked up to 10 2/3 they take a picture so that at the next gig the changeover goes like clockwork.
The two gigs in Tokyo went exceptionally well - both to fantastic crowds. The first, Club Citta, was indoors whilst the second was the Progressive Rock Festival at the Hibiya Open Air Theatre. The gig there even excited the local cicadas, one of which attached itself to Rob's trousers - some bugs have all the luck... At both gigs there was an amazingly strong energy that seemed to build as it went on. Lee Pomeroy joined us as Nick Beggs couldn't make it to Japan - great to play with another extraordinary bass player! We played alongside Renaissance at the festival. It was good to see them again.
The weather was as hot as the gigs and it was fun to wander in our free moments. I visited one or two Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines replete with incense and intoning monks. Ancestor worship and nature gods seem to coexist in ancient holistic forms of religion. Ascend the steps, follow the ritual and you're on your way to becoming a supplicant on the threshold of Heaven. These places are a wonderful celebration of colour, as well as holding a deeply peaceful atmosphere.
We went to a couple of authentic Japanese restaurants - exotic environments overlooked by vibrant fabrics and theatrical masks, or surrounded by miniature water gardens with lanterns and bamboo. There's an amazing contrast between the old world of shrines and kimonos and the high tech ultra modern Japan, but both worlds are bound together by a welcoming spirit.
A very big thank you to all the team who took care of us and made our stay so enjoyable, including Nobu and Miyuki, and also Mikari for all her kindness and everyone we met for their warmth and generosity. My thanks too to Wayne Forte for making the trip possible. We all came away with a sense of joy - looking forward to the next time we get a chance to visit the extraordinary Land of the Rising Sun.
The festival gig
Steve outside the shinto shrine
Rob, Gary and Lee backstage, festival site
The band have a laugh!