Stepping into Tokyo was like landing on Jupiter – it’s foreign in every way – and I was completely spellbound.
It’s a gorgeous, clean, crime-free city of such striking contrast; where ancient history meets Bladerunner modernity. They pray in gorgeous 2,000-year-old Samurai shrines and eat with chopsticks, and yet the futuristic robotized public toilets massage your butt and spray cologne on your dick.
Scott Russo (from Unwritten Law), Davin Dell’osa, and I were invited to host the infamous New Lex nightclub for a week (1am-6am, including one short acoustic performance), and the time passed in a beautiful blur.
Or as I texted my friend back home:
“…a relentless triple tasty rainbow of sleep deprivation, FDA non-regulated reptile dinners with transgender entertainers, club hosting with Japanese pop stars, Russian minors and Yakuza hitmen; flying home with a year’s worth of therapist fodder and at least standing pneumonia: Double happiness neon nausea.”
Our hosts were incredibly cool and unreasonably generous. They indulged all of my outlandish requests, brought us to the wildest places, and enabled us to truly suck the marrow out of the experience – (literally).
On one memorable night, on a street known as “Piss Alley”, we were ushered up a ladder to a tiny, smoke-filled room where we sat next to a rattlesnake fermenting in sake – and were served whole salamanders, pigs’ feet, raw pig testicles, frogs, and raw fish liver. The chain-smoking, pruned-up owner kindly apologized that the snake blood I asked for was “out of season”.
The Kimche (standard side-dish made of cabbage) tasted like crunchy Wetnaps, but everything else was delicious beyond description.
I started each morning with a breakfast of sea urchin sushi, sake and tea, and exploring alone – then would meet up for that afternoon’s scheduled activities. One day, they helped us hunt down the locations from Lost in Translation, then took us shopping in Harajuku (the “punk” area) (where the main street is literally called TAKE-A-SHITA), past a restaurant where robots duel on motorcycles, then on to a pet store that sells black-market monkeys the size of your thumb.
In addition to forging wonderful friendships with our hosts (Taka and Yuji), it was a blast to re-connect with westerners who were passing through on tour – my bandmate and brother, Elias, came by with Ke$ha and the entire crew, Chris Holmes dropped by with the Paul McCartney tour, as did the Avril Lavigne posse, Atoms for Peace, and the Burton Snowboard team.
I’m insanely grateful for the experience, relieved not to have ended up the subject of a Locked Up Abroad episode.
Even now as I write this, I miss my new friends and the city that opened my eyes, and can’t wait to visit again – even were I to possibly expire there next time. :)