I know it's been a while since my last posting in spring. Apologies for the long hiatus. A lot has happened since then, way too much to update you on now. Most notably, October 14th marked my 3rd year anniversary in Japan. Can you believe it? The Tokyo Werewolf has been roaming the Land of the Rising Sun for over 3 years!
Now back to some of the good stuff, the real reason you guys read these things...
The other day, I was at Ruby Room talking with one of the bartenders. She is a student at Waseda University and mentioned that their university festival was to be held that weekend. AKB48 and ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION were playing, along with other famous acts. Different clubs and departments throughout the university were setting up booths and a plethora of events were scheduled throughout the weekend. I had the day free on Saturday, so I made plans to meet up with her and her friends.
For some reason or other, the festival website wasn't working, so I wasn't able to see the line-up of events. I stumbled into the university campus around 2PM, figuring I could pick up a schedule and find out what time Asian Kung-Fu Generation was playing. While roaming into campus, I could hear loud music emanating from a concert space. Could it be? I followed the music to the school gymnasium and entered the gates. I glanced around to see if there were any ticket booths or security guards, but there were none that I could reckon. I surreptitiously walked through the open doors right into the gargantuan space, suddenly in the presence of thousands of Japanese youngsters shouting in unison at the stage. Surely enough, up there in the distance was Asian Kung-Fu Generation rocking the stage amidst flashing lights, teleprompters, and a wall of loudspeakers. I tapped a kid's shoulder and asked what time the show began. He said only 20 minutes ago. Having just stumbled into a school gymnasium where one of my all-time favorite Japanese rock bands was playing, it was clear that my timing was nearly perfect.
Ever since getting my hands on a copy of Surf Bungagku Kamakura, an album that lionizes the beautiful small towns of Shonan Beach, Ajikan (the band's nickname) has been one of my favorite Japanese rock bands. They blend elements of hard rock, alternative rock, and emo-punk to create their own breed of music that, thanks to singer Masafumi Goto's wonderful voice, maintains an introspective and emotional quality. Ajikan's best songs are power-pop hits that are driven by heavy guitars, emotive lyrics, and passionate vocals.
Check out the theme song to Solanin, a recent rock 'n' roll film that features one of their singles:
Recently, I've been a bit bummed by the pressures of the working world, and as you can imagine, some of the luster of living abroad wanes after 3 years. But seeing so many Japanese young people rocking out to an incredible band reminded me why I came here in the first place. Not to mention the greater school festival itself, it was definitely a great show and a great day.