Japan 2003

Arriving in Tokyo
MijaJima and Fukuoka
Kobe and Osaka
Kyoto, Inari and Uri
back home

Saturday, 26th July 2003 I finally made it to Japan and even Asia for the first time ever. This was my second attempt, exactly ten years ago in summer 1993 I had to scrap plans to go because of financial reasons. I had just finished college and was going on six months trip to the USA, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. At the time I had just finished my mail-order business 'Mind The Gap', I had a dozen personal customers and also three record-shops I did business with by selling them European indiepop releases. But the flights to/from Japan from either the US or Australia would have doubled my flight costs for the whole trip and Japan itself also seemed to expensive for someone on a student budget. Traffic Map
An electronic traffic map of the Tokyo area
at Narita airport. Avoid the red areas.

So when my old friend Oliver Goetzl, head of Marsh Marigold Records in Hamburg told me about his band 'Knabenkraut' touring in Japan in the summer and inviting me along, I didn't have to thing long to accept the invitation. This was a great opportunity to get around in Japan with some old friends and meet Japanese pop-kids.


I was a bit surprised about the Knabenkraut Japan tour. Japan was always a very important market for Marsh Marigold bands but again that was 10 years ago and apparently the indiepop market in Japan had collapsed since. That something had changes became obvious in the fact that the band had to pay for their flight and train ticket themselves and had to arrange private accommodation. In the olden days when bands like 'The Field Mice' or 'The Hit Parade' went to Japan all these was paid for and the bands stayed in hotels.

The band arrived two days before me to play to gigs, up north in Sendai and in Shizuoka, an hour west of Tokyo. I arrived at Narita International airport at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning after an 11 hour flight from Frankfurt on a Lufthansa jumbo jet. Three films plus dinner and breakfast made the flight bearable, as usually I couldn't sleep on the plane. The most fascinating thing on the flight was the lack of darkness, there was a very slow sunset on the left of the plane lasting for hours and somehow just when the sun was gone it re-appeared on the right side of the plane.

Immigration at the airport was easy but I had to wait for an hour for a late flight from Zurich with Nicole on board. Nicole was another friend (Marek) of the band and she was coming along to film a video-documentary of the tour. I had never met her before but we arranged a meeting at the airport via email to travel to Tokyo together. Narita airport is 66 km from Tokyo and there are several options to get into the city. We choose the cheapest one, the Keisei line, this is a commuter train stopping about 10 times on the way to Tokyo making it 25 minutes slower than the non-stop express trains, however with ¥1000 it costs only one third of the express trains. The ride to Ueno station in the north-east of Tokyo took about 80 minutes and gave us the first impressions of urban Japan.

There were brief stretches of rural countryside but soon the suburbs of Tokyo took over and the buildings became taller and denser. This was it, the special Japanese architecture that you only find here. The first day or even hours in a new country are always the most interesting, I still remember my first days in London, Paris, New York and Los Angeles and I will always remember this first day in Tokyo.

J-Rail Pass A must for a traveller who wants to see more than just Tokyo, the J-Rail pass.

When we arrived in Ueno we had to transfer over to the Yamanote line to get to Shinjuku on the other side of town. The Yamanote line is probably the most important public transport line in all of Tokyo because it runs in a huge circle around town connecting all the mini-cities that make up Tokyo, most areas I went to could be reached by the Yamanote line. They are two great things about it, it runs completely over ground allowing you a view of the view and it is part of JR West so one could use the JRail pass to ride on it.

The J-Rail pass is similar to the Inter-Rail/Eurail pass in Europe as it allows you unlimited rides on most trains of the Japan Rail system. We had the 7 seven day pass which costs ¥28300. BTW at the time of my trip ¥1000 was about 5 pounds, 7 Euros or 8 US Dollars.

Because of our itinerary our pass was only valid from Sunday and we had to pay for the trip to Shinjuku. Tickets are bought at vendor machine, above them are huge maps showing all destinations in central Tokyo with prices next to them, then you get a ticket for that price from the machine. In most stations there is at least one map with names in western characters for visitors. In some smaller stations further outside I had to guess where my destination was on the map. Even if you have the name of the place you are looking for written down in Japanese it may be hard to find because the string of characters often doesn't match at all.

Shinjuku The Studio Alta building on the east side of Shinjuku station.
However you can always ask a local and even if they don't speak English which was the norm, they can point you to the station even based on a name written in Latin characters. So we got our ¥180 tickets, went through the ticket gates and onto the train. Under the curious eyes of some Japanese school-girls who enquired about our trip we rode northern part of the Yamanote line over to Shinyuku. We were supposed to meet the band at the venue for the days gig at 11 and it was already half past 12. Shinjuku JR station and it attached underground shopping mall has over 70 exits. We roughly knew which one to take and it lead us out to the main station square with the surrounding buildings covered in billboards and huge TV screens. We got our first set of freebies, small packets of paper handkerchiefs and plastic fans advertising all kinds of products. You get these all around the bigger stations. Nicole also picked up a middle-age Japanese guy with an American accent. He offered to guide us to the venue which we tried to find based on some instructions we received beforehand. He was a big talker and became a bit scary over time because he we seem to be stuck with him. But worst of all he led us into a wrong area of Shinjuku, I noticed this on my map and he saw his error, pointed us into the right direction and finally went off.

On the way to the venue we say the first 'Hello Kitty' toilet paper in a corner shop, Nicole seemed to be another one of those 20 something Hello Kitty fans.
We were suppose to be at the venue at 11 am, but got their half past twelve, but nevertheless no one else was there. We waited and tried to call people and with no success. After 1 the first Knaberkräter showed up. There was a big hello and we settled all in at the small backstage room of the downstairs bar that makes up 'Studio Jam'. I knew Oliver, Gerrit, Thomas, Bjorn and Carsten from the early to mid ninetees when the played in several other bands from Hamburg. A new addition to the band was the lovely Melanie and it was great to have her around. I also met Edgar Franz (Edugar) who lives in Japan and fronts the band 'Mini skirt'. Edgar did organized the tour and would play with Knabenkraut every night. His brother Markus also just arrived from Germany for holiday and he would join us, so the group of 10 Germans was complete.

Shinjuku Shops Stepping out of the vast underground complex that is Shinjuku station, you see the typical building front of East Shinjuku and other shopping areas.
The bands had played south of Tokyo the night before and to get the last train back they had to run through heavy rain for minutes, everything in suitcases and backpacks was totally soaked.
While people were trying to dry their stuff and getting ready for the soundcheck, I left to check into my hotel. It was a ten minute walk south to the City Hotel Lonestar. The two young guys at the reception spoke very little English but understood my request. I had booked over the internet for only this, my first night in Japan. But there couldn't find my reservation and they were fully booked...
After about twenty minutes and several phone calls they had found my reservation which somehow was filed under a different name. Hmmm, not very organised as I expected it from the Japanese. Anyway I went upstairs to my room and had a shower.
Even though I was tired and had planned at least a short nap, I was too excited and had to get back out on the street. I wanted to check out Vinyl Japan which I knew is in Nishi (West) Shinjuku, the two parts of the Shinjuku are separated by the train tracks with the station at the center of the whole. So I knew I had to get on the other side of the tracks but that was all I knew. I had to walk along Shinjuki-Dori, one of the main streets in Shinjuku and a big parade was going on. I couldn't figure out what it was all about but there were loads of different groups in colourful costumes. Every second group also played some music mostly using huge drums. It took a while before I got to the station. I passed through the south side catacombs of the station to reach another huge shopping area on the other site. I tried to find a local map but couldn't, so I walk north towards the huge skyscapers area. I tried to look lost to attract the attentions of some people to help me but with no success. I found a map and knew that Vinyl Japan was in Nishi Shinjuku 7-4-9, and I knew that those three numbers are the area, the block and then the building. I found area 7 on the map and so walked for another 10 minutes to get there. I was looking around and after a while I found a street with loads on record shops on it. Every ten meters was another one, usually up the first or second floor. I checked the first few out, but none of them were really 'indie' stores. After another 20 minutes I found the first Vinyl Japan store, there are four of them. They had a map that pointed me to store number 2 which is Indiepop heaven. I wrote a separate article about record shopping, so I wont mention too many shops here.
Shinjuku High-rise buildings High rise buildings in Nishi-Shinjuku, seen from Tokyo Tower.
I walked backed towards the venue and choose to use my back streets, I went through a red-light district with loads of bars and disreputable shops. I had my first Japanese food at some fast-food noodle bar, not that great but I didn't really know what the things on the menu were and because I don't eat fish I had to play safe. I got back to the Jam bar just in time for the first band. The bar with a small stage was downstairs and hold about 50 people, besides Knabenkraut and Mini Skirt two other Tokyo bands played. Pervenche fronted by the lovely Masako Kato and the more professional Swinging Popsicle. I had a nice chat with some of the band members backstage. Without any sleep the night before and all of the excitement of the day, I got pretty tired, so when Knabenkraut finished I went back to my hotel for a good night of sleep.


I woke up pretty early and after a quick breakfast in the hotel I made my way over to the station through the now empty streets of east Shinjuku. I needed to get to Tokyo's main railway station to catch a train Nagoya. Once again I took the Yamanote line but this time on the south-west part of the ring. This part of the city has many more high-rise buildings that the east. We passed through several business districts before we reached the main station which is in the heart of Tokyo.

Shinkansen train The head of a Shinkansen at Tokyo's main station. These 'bullet trains' were our main means of transportation between the cities. 1179 Km from Tokyo to Fukuoka in 4h 53min.
The Shinkansen trains always have their own section in a station, separate from the 'normal' trains. You usually have to pass through electronic gates get into these sections but because the J-Rail pass is a non-electronic ticket we always had to show it to the friendly J-Rail staff on the side. Shinkansen trains have two classes, the standard one and first class which for some obscure reason is called green cars. Along the platforms are a number of pairs of while lines painted on the ground. People to board the trains a queuing in two lines on the outer sides of these lines. When a train arrives, it stops so that its doors are exactly between the two lines. People can then leave the train through the clear space in the middle. And because most travellers are Japanese this actually works very well. The first thing one notices in the train is how wide it is. There are three very spacey seats on one side and two on the other and the aisle in the middle is also much wider than in Western trains. It feels much more like a wide-body aircraft than a train. Also the leg room is huge which is even more surprising considering the average height of Japanese people. When the Shinkansen was build in the early sixties it was decided to use much wider tracks to make travelling at high speeds more safe. Because only the Shinkansen are using these newly build wide tracks, they are not slowed down by local or freight trains. Nagoya is a 100 minute ride from Tokyo on the Shinkansen but even on this fast train it took about 35 minutes before I could see some open land. In Yokohama, the only stop before Nagoya a business man joint me in my row and has happy to be able to practice his English. In general most Japanese seem a bit reluctant to talk to westerners, but to me that's because they don't think their English is good enough and in most cases it probably isn't. However if you find a Japanese people who speaks English well, they are usually happy or even eager to talk to you. As the train followed the coast line along south Honshu, my neighbour pointed to the right and explained that that's were the famous Mount Fuji is, he told me that there are only a few clear days in the winter when one could actually see it from the train or Tokyo. So I guess I missed that one.

After arriving in Nagoya I started walking towards the city centre, but soon realised that the city was too big for walking. So with the help of a friendly couple I got myself a beautiful day-pass for local transport. I never found out why some Japanese dates were 15-7-27 rather than 04-7-27. So was it July 27th in the year 15? The next thing that was a big confusing were the local maps. While on western maps north is pretty much always at the top of the map, in Japan it could be at the bottom, on the left of on the right.

Modern Nagoya Modern Nagoya as viewed from the top of the castle.
After a few stops and getting out of another huge underground mall, I walked over to Arch Records, the Nagoya indiepop shop. Small but with a great selection on 90s and current stuff. After that I went to the local castle within a big garden surrounded by high walls. The main castle building had an interesting museum on six flours and nice views from the top. After that is was time to find a hotel. I went back to the station and asked at the tourist information. They gave me a map with hotels in the area along with their prices. I choose a hotel five minutes from the station. Nothing too fancy but clean and quiet and the guy at the reception just understand enough English to sign me in. It was a hot July day so I took a long cold shower and relaxed a little.

Nagoya day pass
Day ticket for public transport
in Nagoya
I had ask the guy at Arch Records for directions to the venue and was a bit shocked when he told me it wasn't on my map, but at least I knew it was near the last stop of one of the underground lines. Luckily some parts of the ride out to Fujigaoka were over ground so I could see the western parts of the city from the train. At the station I started asking for directions to the West Darts Clubs but nobody seem to know it. Again it was less a problem of finding someone who knew what I was looking for but more finding someone who was confident enough with his or her English skills. Outside the station two hip looking girls were handing out flyers for a club, so I ask them on one of them spoke some English. She didn't really know where the club was but had an idea and offered to help me finding it. It was only a short walk until we found the place, just enough for me to tell her about the nature of my trip. I invited her to come along to the gig but she never showed. The West Darts Club was on F4, the fourth floor of a typical shopping building in the area. I missed most of the first band also some of the other local bands because I went out with Nicole to get something to eat. We ended up in a good sized supermarket and bought some sushi platters and drinks. Nagoya castle
The castle in Nagoya, like most old castles in
Japan, it was destroyed by fires or wars and
rebuild in the last 60 years.
Edugar did a solo Mini-skirt show and we had top seats at a balcony above the stage. I went to the bar and ordered 'san biru, ni mizu" I learned counting to four in Japanese from a Kraftwerk's 1981 album 'Computer World' and knew Miza meant water because of Hideki Kaji's cover of the Eggstone song of the same name. And biru was just easy enough to remember. However the elderly lady behind the bar just was staring at me clueless. If language doesn't work use your things, and soon I had my three beer and two waters. I had bought a Japanese phrase book before the trip and had tried some common things but except for arigato (thank you), konnichi wa (good day), sayonara (goodbye) and hai (yes) I hardly used any Japanese, and if so only single words rather than sentences. Knabenkraut did a good show and I meet two scary looking but pleasant Japanese guys who really liked them too, so much so that they even came up to Tokyo on the next weekend to see them again.

After the gig we went to a restaurant for a usual late dinner and the other Germans tried to find out where they would stay for the night. By the time we got to the restaurant I had to leave to catch the last train into town. It was past midnight when I missed my station, luckily I noticed before the next one and there was one final train in the opposite direction to get me back to the main railway station. But I wasn't home yet. All the exists I found were already closed and locked. When I finally found an open one, I was on the wrong side of the station. Above Nagoya station are two tall roundish skyscrapers, the JR Central Towers and I had to get onto the other side of the pair. One of the two towers is a hotel so I went in there and asked for directions, they guided me through the building to the other side and soon I was in my own hotel and in my bed.


This was our first day off; the next gig was in Fukuoka on the southern Island of Kyushu. We had arranged to meet at the station at ten and then decide what to do. Six of the other Germans showed up and first we went for breakfast in a station caff. Shinkansen sign
Always look for this sign, it's the
fast way to travel in Japan
Without any Japanese friends it was the usual 'pick something from the selection of plastic meals in the window that looks halfway decent' and tell the waitress about it, or better show it to her. I think I did alright but I am not sure what I was eating. Thomas and Bjorn decided to stay in Nagoya for some hours to see something of the city as they had had to rush to the venue right away the day before. Nicole, Carsten, Gerrit, Melanie and I boarded the eleven-O-three Hikari Shinkansen to Hiroshima. As it was around lunch time nearly all passengers had brought their bento boxes, a wooden container with separate compartments for all kinds of food, but mostly sushi. There are sold all over the place but some also seemed home made. It was fascinating to see hundreds of people in the carriage eating their lunch with their chop-sticks. As the others didn't get much sleep on the trip for far, they decided to go all the way to Fukuoka and get a good night of sleep in a hotel. I for myself wanted to see Hiroshima, so while they moved on westward on another bullet train, I was on my own again. I only had a medium size backpack to carry which was just about half full, but after carrying it around the day before in Nagoya I decided that it was too much and the first thing I would do in a new city is to find a hotel and drop of the bag.

A-Dome in Hiroshima
The Atomic Dome
This time I wanted to try a Japanese style hotel. The friendly English speaking gentlemen at the tourist information booked a room for me in a Futaba Ryokan. While waiting in line I overheard a Canadian tourist talking about Miyajima Island which I've read about before but didn't know that it was close to Hiroshima, I decided to do Hiroshima in the afternoon and the Island the next morning. The main means of transportation in central Hiroshima are trams, which is great, I love them. Getting into a foreign city and then go around underground is horrible; you see nothing of the town. I boarded streetcar number 6 which took me from the station through the city center to my hotel which is on the Tokaichi Island. You take a ticket from the machine when you board the tram and then pay the driver when you leave it through the front door, kind of the opposite as it is on buses in London. After a short walk I reach my small hotel in a side street. Most of the Ryokans are family run and only have a dozen or less rooms. The lady of the house welcomed me and showed me my room, nobody in the whole place spoke English but luckily I had a booking receipt from the tourist information and only had to pay. I loved the place, you leave your shoes at the door and get into the provided slippers, the whole room is covered with tatami (straw mats) and the only items in it were a futon rolled up in a corner and a remote control for the TV set attached to the wall. A shared toilet and bathroom was just next door. I spend the most of the afternoon in the Peace Memorial Park which is a short walk from my hotel along the Peace Boulevard. The park has various monuments but they two main buildings are the Peace Memorial Museum and the Atomic Bomb dome. The museum and the whole park was very impressive and touching. [Web-Site]

I moved on along the Ota-gawa River to the Hiroshima Castle, quite impressive complex but also a replica from the fifties because it was too close to ground zero on August 6th 1945. The evening I spent in the central shopping districts, each city has its underground malls and at least one roof covered long pedestrian zone. Right next to the shopping area was the night-life district with loads of restaurants, bars and clubs. I didn't feel like going out for dinner on my own, so I picked up some take away chicken and rice and walked back to my hotel.


I woke up early but had had a good night of sleep on the futon. I boarded another tram to Nishi-Hiroshima in the west of the city, we crossed two more rivers but it is actually possible to cross six of them just going straight through town. It was raining for the first time this was actually the only wet day of the trip. It wasn't too bad though and most if the time it was okay to walk without an umbrella. I picked up a delicious chilled milk-coffee drink and some Japanese version of the sausage roll in a 7-11 style shop near the small local station and then boarded the suburban train to Mijajimaguchi. There I embarked a ferry for a short sail over to Miyajima. [http://www3.ocn.ne.jp/~miyajima/]
I arrived on the island just before 9 o'clock and because it was early and wet there were hardly any people about, which was great because as this is one of the major Japanese tourist attractions it is normally very crowded. I spend some hours around the temples and shrines and up into the hills but I didn't have enough time to make it to the top of Mt. Misen. On the way back to the port I passed through the main shopping street with one souvenir shop next too each other. Most of them offered vast selections of wooden rice scoops and Momiji Manju, sweet chocolatey confects not unlike fudge with a exotic taste to it. They are backed right inside the shops and were still warm when I bought mine, hmm delicious. One can easily spend a whole day on Miyajima but I had to move on. Ferry and train took me back to the main station to get on another Shinkansen.

I arrived in Fukuoka in the early afternoon and while booking a hotel at the station, Oliver, Bjorn and Thomas showed up. They had also been in Hiroshima the day before, well these things happen if you don't have a mobile phone. We took the subway into town to find the venue for the night. It was in a place called Vivre, pronounced Bibre as we soon found out. It turned out to be a big department store and after asking a few people we made our way up to the 8th floor where HMV was located, the venue was a good size room with a proper stage and sound system, more professional than any place before or after. My hotel was just a short walk away and after a shower I went on to explore the city or to be more precise its record shops. I had list of shops from my Japanese friend Yoshi who is from Fukuoka but now lives in London. In the first shop I picked up a 'musical map' of the city with dozens of record shops, clubs, music shops and clubs. I went to eight shops and even though I didn't actually buy anything it was really impressive how many CDs and records were on sale here, and I didn't even go to the mega stores. Each of the shops had its own character, watch looking at the walls was very fascinating. The tour flyer
The flyer for the tour.
Surely not enough of them in Fukuoka.
I went back to the venue where all the other Germans had arrived and Knabenkraut has already finished their sound check. Most of us went two floors down to have and early dinner in a small restaurant. Again we took the waitress outside to the window to point to our choices, it actually quite good and even cheap at least compare to London. Back at the venue the first local support band was ready to start, problem was there was no audience, no single person who didn't belong to the venue or was somehow related to any of the bands. It was decided to drop the cover charge of over 2000 Yen. It was then announced on the PA in the whole department store that some bands are playing upstairs for free but still no one showed. This must have been quite frustrating for the bands and the organizer who has a fan of the band and actually had never done this before.
However the band played a fine gig and the dozen of people enjoyed themselves nevertheless. Afterward we went for diner which was great. We went for a small Japanese restaurant and took over one third of it. Shoes off, sitting down at very low tables and learn about life on the southernmost of the main Japanese Island. A wide range of food was served and the beer and Sake also didn't stop flowing. A great night after all.

Wednesday Despite the fact that I haven't seen any of the proper sites in town as well as the supposedly best record shop I soon left Fukuoka. This was another day off and I wanted to get back east. Somehow I always considered Japan a North-South country but at least south of Tokyo were I travelled it is much more an East-West country. I had just missed a train so I had some time to kill at the station. I went into a electronic department store near the station. This was definitely the biggest of such I've ever been two. There were five large floors with any sort of electronic equipment you can think plus all those Japanese gadgets you can't even imagine. Next time I have to stay longer to actually check out some thing, but today I had to rush back to the station to catch a train. I left the Shinkansen in Kobe just south of Osaka. Kobe experienced a major earthquake in the mid-nineties but I didn't notice anything about it. Even the huge two-level freeway that collapsed during the tremors had been rebuilt in the same way. The city is a long but thin stretch between the Rokko mountain range and the Pacific Ocean or to be more precise the Inland Sea between Honshu and Shikoku . Ferris Wheel in Osaka
The huge Ferris Wheel in Osaka
I spend some time in the shopping district and the rest at the waterfront. I liked Kobe but I had to move on because there was much to see in this area of Japan known as Kensai. Rather than getting back to the Shinkansen station uptown I boarded a regional train to Osaka. It was now in the middle of the afternoon rush hour and watching the working population getting home was fascinating. I couldn't find a proper tourist information at the station in Osaka, because there were no Shinkansens at this station. So I walked around for a bit and after a while found a hotel. This whole area of Osaka is overshadowed by a huge red Ferris wheel which itself is situated on top of a four storey building. On my way to the two main indie record shops in Osaka I got lost in the huge underground shopping centre near the station. It's not really a mall because there are no wide open spaces, just many long underground corridors with hundreds of shops. I had to find a certain underground line but there were three different lines coloured in blue and it took me a while and the help of a friendly Osakan lady to find the right one. I had a Japanese map to find the shops but when I got to the street I expected the first one on there was nothing. I figured the owner of a small bookshop would speak some English but didn't. At least the could read my map and pointed me into the right direction. The area I entered now has pretty full of youths hanging out on the streets, they could tell me where to find Syft Records. Nice shop and very friendly staff, at least the one guy who spoke good English. I bought a few things and then moved on to Timebomb, much bigger with loads of great stuff not always cheap though. I spend some hours until they closed at 9. I went back to the area of my hotel which has many restaurants and clubs. I had some food and spend some time in a huge amusement centre watching Japanese kids and adults on video games of all sorts. Did I mention Japanese traffic lights stay green for a minute and then red for three, and hardly anybody ever jaywalks.

Thursday I took the over ground train to the over side of central Osaka passing the huge Castle in the west. At Tennoji station I had breakfast and logged my backpack into lockers and jumped on the train to Nara which is only 35 minutes away.

Todaiji temple
The Todaiji temple in Nara
Nara was the original Japanese capital in the 8th century, it somehow avoided major wars and conflicts since and many old buildings survived here. Today it is pretty much a big collection of temples and shrines and one of Japan's most visited places. The city itself is not too big and I walked around for most of the day. The tourist information at the station was very helpful and supplied me with good maps and tips were to go if I only had one day. They lady I talked to even gave me the option to speak English or German and she was pretty good at both. Most impressive among all the temples was the biggest one Todaiji which hosts the Great Buddha. I also really enjoyed the Taizoin Japanese Gardens and the smaller hidden temples in the hills. After hours and hours of temples and shrines most of them situated at the north side of the city in Nara Park I explored some more residential areas for a change but even here I was running into smaller temples and shrines several times. I really liked Nara but could only really scratch the surface of it. Apparently there are many must-see sights further away from the centre and one would need a car to get there.

Back in Osaka still have some time before the gig started and went to the very centre of town. Dotomburi is a street and area along the Dotomburi river, what a difference to Nara, shops and restaurants of all sorts usually non-chain which made it very interesting to walk around, do window shopping and watch the crowd. After the disappointment in Fukuoka it was good to see a packed venue in south west Osaka. The support bands were quite enjoyable and I liked Knabenkraut and Miniskirt more and more as I knew their songs better every evening. We ended the day with some dinner in the same area I stayed in the previous night and I met Tomohiro the owner of Syft records who also helped me finding a hotel later on.

Friday, August 1st

  • Train to Kyoto
  • Rented a bike, sightseeing in Kyoto
  • Get hotel at the station, bus to hotel
  • By foot/tube to the venue
  • Gig and hanging around afterwards
  • Back to the hotel with Markus


Golden Temple
The golden Temple in Kyoto, everybody's
favourite big city in Japan.
  • Sightseeing in Kyoto by foot and bus
  • By train to Inari
  • By train to Uji
  • By train back to Kyoto
  • Shinkansen to Tokyo station
  • A bit lost at the station
  • Tube to Shinjuku
  • Train to shimokitazawa
  • The gig
  • Dinner and drinks up the road
  • By train to Edgar's flat, sleeping on the balcony
  • To Shibuya
  • Discovering shibuya
  • To shimokitazawa
  • Record shopping
  • Back to shibuya
  • Looking for the venue
  • Check into capsule hotel
  • Gig
  • Karaoke
  • Train to Tokyo and on to Yokohama
  • By bus to the hotel
  • Rent a bike and cycled along the waterfront
  • Relaxing in the hotel and in the park at the waterfront
  • Along the main shopping road
  • In china town
  • Train to Shibuya
  • Train to Harajuku
  • Walked along Omoto Sando
  • Tube to Tokyo station
  • Walked around Ginza
  • Tourist office by train
  • To the imperial palace
  • To Tokyo tower
  • Back to Shibuya
  • To Apple Crumble and Rockshop
  • Heavy rain over shibuya
  • Looking for a hotel but end up in the capsule again
  • Dinner with four Japanese
  • Shopping around Shibuya
  • Met up with the three guys
  • Train to Shinjuku
  • Start shopping at Vinyl and other shops on that road
  • Recofan, Diskunion in Shinjuku
  • Jfastfood in Shinjuku
  • Over to Ikebukuro
  • More shopping
  • back to shibuya, walking around at night, more shopping
  • Tower records / HMV, final buys
  • On to Harajuku again,
  • Kiddyland again
  • Takeshita-dori
  • Hello Kitty shopping
  • Back to shibuya to check into hotel
  • Over to Ebisu
  • Met with Masako
  • Dinner at the top of Tokyo
  • To her house, listening to records
  • Back to shibuya
  • Train to Narita

A capsule to sleep in
My capsule in a capsule hotel in Shibuya.
The smallest hotel room I ever stayed in.

Tokyo by Night
Looking north towards central Tokyo.

More Tokto at night
Looking south-west over the Shiba district. In the back is the rainbow bridge leading to
Odaiba Island in the bay of Tokyo.

The famous high-tech toilets.

capsule ticket
Ticket for the capsule hotel

Have A Nice Summer
Despite this advice, avoid Japan in the

The O-Torii near MiyaJima Island