Taipei March 11, 2011 3:10 pm
“Japan just got hit with a giant tsunami and it’s headed to Taipei in one hour , get your ass to high ground son”
This was the first moment I heard the news that Japan had been decimated by a 9.0 quake.
My heart sank and my mind flashed to the faces of all my new friends in a country that welcomed me with loving arms just a few months before.
Tokyo December 5th 2010
It was the Christmas season when I arrived in Tokyo December 5th for one of the most long awaited experiences of my life.
As my white-gloved taxi driver drove me to my hotel, I gazed upon the Tokyo Tower and I whispered to myself “I finally made it.”
Tokyo is a city unlike any I’ve ever experienced before.
I began to discover the energy, complexity, order, kindness and beauty of which I’ve only dreamed of in my most fantastic Blade Runner fantasies.
Since it was the Christmas time, the city was electrified with lights. I was amazed by the depth of Xmas spirit especially from a culture that has only adopted Christianity less then 70 years ago.
In true Japanese spirit it seemed as if they had invented it all along and exported it to the rest of the world.
Baby Jesus would be very proud.
My first night in Tokyo began with a W Event where I DJed for the local hipsters and fashionistas. I had invited an old friend and was hoping he would show up. Minoru San soon arrived with a warm smile to welcome me to Tokyo.
The event was a blast but the night was just beginning when Minoru San took my W crew out at 1am for Korean BBQ.
I don’t remember the food but I do remember the countless soju bombs I was forced to consume. Once we reach our limit we headed to the Park Hyatt’s “New York Bar” in Shinjuku.
In my Soju haze I suggested we order a few bottles of champagne to accompany our lost in translation view.
Tokyo seemed to go on forever as I gazed out upon countless flashing light from my vantage point 52 stories high. Blame it on the So so so so so Soju could have been my theme song that night but I choose Vangelis instead.
Inspired by the moment someone suggested we fill our hearts with song and our bellies with sake bombs at the nearest karaoke bar. It just seemed the right thing to do at 6am.
Tokyo had me at hello.
From that point on Minuro San didn’t leave my side 12 hours a day for the next 5 days. He was my friend, my teacher, my restaurant guide, my nightclub concierge and my cultural ambassador.
I later found out March 12th that Minuro San had rushed up north to help as a translator and serve his people in any way he could. Minuro San is also a man of honor. I will never forget the kindness he showed me.
I am obsessed with food culture and to my surprise Minuro San was more then happy to stop every 2 hours and hook a bother up with his fix! I discovered the Japanese “Gyoza.” Holy Sh*@*t!! I screamed after my first bite. I was a gyoza junky.
Minuro stared at me with a look like “what the hell is this guy going on about.” The amalgamations and complexity of ingredients offered blew my mind and I couldn’t stop talking about them after each bite.
I’m sure after a few days of me rambling over much sake and gyoza, Minuro San wanted to give me a smack but he just smiled and entertained my delusions of gyoza like a child discovering how to ride a bike for the first time.
He told me that it is considered a culinary art form in Japan and that there is a city Utsunomiya or “Gyoza Town” that is know for only gyoza. They even have a national gyoza competition held there each year.
My second night out I met 3 of Minuro San’s amazing young friends at a Nylon event. William, Julie and Eiko.
William hands down is one of the most fun people I’ve ever met with a love for life that is insanely obvious in everything he does.
Julia is a timeless beauty pulled from a Godard film who speaks 4 languages all at the same time in one sentence
and Eiko is a stunning songstress and killer DJ who was rockin the ones and twos upon our arrival.
After the event they invited us out on the town with them and we ended up in Shibuya drinking sake and eating Japanese bbq at one of the many tiny little bars hidden away in some office building.
With in a few hours I felt as if I had known everyone for years.
As we walked through Shibuya afterwards we found ourselves at the Shibuya cross walk.
Before I knew what was happening William and his college buddy were doing head stands in the middle of traffic. I couldn’t stop laughing as young office workers inspired by their antics soon joined in and a full on aerobic class ensued in the middle of Tokyo’s busiest intersections.
Eventually we dragged their asses out of traffic only though temptations of more cocktail.
We finally jumped into cabs and sped off to our next destination.
We were headed Le Baron for a few night caps and to dance to Tokyo’s best DJs until they kick us out.
I had been to the one in Paris several times but I was really looking forward to seeing the one in Tokyo.
A few weeks before I headed out on my trip my boy Gogy Esparza ,who’s an incredible visual artists and the creative director of New York’s famed Blind Bar Crew (we’ll get into that in more detail another time), just debuted is his solo photography show, “LIGHTTIME” at Le Baron de Paris, in Tokyo on October 7th, 2010.
Here is a little video of his debut.
The next morning I realized that I couldn’t keep up this pace and that I needed some R&R from my trip. Minuro San suggested we take a trek to the seaside town of Kamakura in order to experience The Big Buddha.
Kamakura hasn’t changed since 1200AD when the Shogan ruled the area from this city. We jumped off of our train and into a rickshaw to begin our journey to the Buddha and the Hasedera Temple.
Words do little to describe the serenity and beautify of Kamakura’s Buddha.
Hasedera Temple is perched a hillside over looking the ocean.
Everywhere on the Temples property is filled with the most amazing variations of Buddha statues.
The view from the Temple gardens is inspiring.
Day #4 & #5
My last 2 days in Tokyo we filled with an endless stream of conversations with Minuro San and even more laughs.
Some moments can’t be described but rather have to be seen to believe.
Like the strange Tennis Racket Dance I experienced in Yoyogi Park
or the Poppin Lockin music video I crashed
or the Black Crows that were the size of Pembroke Welsh Corgis
or the bar that only had 8 seats and played the dopest 80′s music videos.
I was fascinated with Japan. II don’t believe that I truly understood the definition of that word until this trip.
On my last train ride back to my hotel and I starred out the window fading in and out of consciousness while memories of what I had just experienced flashed through my head.
Since I left Taipei March 12th I have watched in horror the pain and suffering of the Japanese people all the while humbled by the humanity that this culture shows for one another.
I hope the world will learn a lesson more importantly then natural disaster preparation or nuclear waste containment security but rather that the world is changing before our eyes like never before and we can only survive if we evolve from our instinctual state to a higher form.