February 16, 2017 (Tosh's Diary) Japan
The lack of sleep makes Tokyo into a city of your mind. To this day, I'm not sure if it actually exists. With little sleep, I met two American friends who are visiting the dream capital of desire. There is something superb about facing the cold air, when utterly exhausted. The good thing is my fellow countryman are feeling the same thing. There is a bar next to their businessmen's hotel that has an extensive vinyl selection as well as free drinks. Why the drinks are free is a question that is not examined too thoroughly. All three of us are heavily into vinyl. The other two have never been to Tokyo before, so it was my responsibility to take them to the right spot.
Our first stop was RecoFan. It's very similar to Amoeba Music in Hollywood in many ways, but smaller in size. Still, it takes up the entire fourth floor of the building. Austin is into punk and Ray is into hip-hop and jazz. I like instrumental bands from the 1960s and have been looking for "The Shadows In Tokyo" LP for the last five or so years. The thing is, when you expect to find something, you're not going to find it. But when the unexpected happens that is the 'gotcha" moment. The Enka selection at RecoFan is pretty impressive. For those who don't know, Enka is a post-war form of music that is very much like a version of Japanese blues but with beautiful orchestration and voice. There is also at times, a killer electric guitar solo that appears out of nowhere. It sounds like the guitar is crying. That type of music hits the spot when you're dead tired, and all you are feeling is emotion.
I couldn't find shit for me, but my fellow companions found stuff that made their eyes pop out of their skulls. Me, I'm more of the cool type. I try not to show emotion while shopping. We then went down the block to the Disk Union. This is a record store in Shibuya (also a few stores in Shinjuku) where each floor caters to the specific type of music. Again, I wanted the Sixties vinyl, and that is on the third floor, and Ray wanted hip-hop which is in the fourth, and Austin for his punk taste is the fifth. The basement is jazz, and we decided to meet there in one hour. "The Shadows in Tokyo" is a very tough LP to find, and lady luck was not smiling down at me. Meanwhile, Austin came to the basement with five or six 7" singles of various punk bands from his neighborhood back home, and I couldn't see Ray's face due to the various packages he was holding.
At this moment all three of us were confronted with a spiritual feeling of loss and abandonment. Apparently, we needed to take the Ginza line to Asakusa to the Sensō-ji to renew our faith in chance. Sensō-ji is Japan's oldest Buddhist temple, and the peaceful aspect is the marketplace leading up to the temple's steps. This is also the location to get postcards to send back home, as well as various swords. Since the others had two or three bags of vinyl, it was my responsibility to hold on to the swords. I put one down my pants, which of course, I have to be very comfortable not to trip, and I carried the other two with both hands. It's very difficult to walk down the marketplace with the swords because the physical space is very tight due to the large crowd that takes place here. I did find one postcard here, that had a very nice colorful image of the temple surrounded by cherry blossom trees. I addressed the card to Stephen Bannon in the care of the White House, Washington DC, telling him "wish you were here."
The three of us ended up in a beer hall, that has been in business since 1926. All the waiters here are in their 90s, which gives it an old school charm. As we drank beer, and eat sashimi, we still feel that time is not on our side. I feel that once I close my eyes, and then reopen them, everything will be gone like it didn't exist. That is the beauty of Japan.