Wow, slept till my alarm went off at 7:15am. I'll beat this jetlag just in time to leave for the States. Up early to create this new blog, I like the layout better and it's easier to upload pictures. Hope you like it. Talk to my Mom on IM for awhile, their house seems to be coming along nicely. Att 11 we're of on the bullet train again, this time to Tokyo. We have 2 days off before the show, plan on doing some guitar shopping, and we're going to try and catch a baseball game if we can get tickets. I'm off to email this new blog address to everyone (even though I spelled my user name wrong, as guitaretch, is that a Freudian slip?).

Arrive in Tokyo, buses can't park at the station. We cross the street and wait in the hot sun for 10min. till the bus arrives. Bus takes us to the Tokyo Dome Hotel (right next to the gig), travel time 30min. Immediately head out to go guitar shopping in Ochanomizu. First stop at McD's, must have a quick bite. Short walk to the JR train station. we are only going one stop to Ochanomizu. One problem, the JR map is all in Japanese, usually it is in English too. Anyway, figure out our fare is 130yen and get a ticket from the machine. At least the platform signs are in English.

It's a short ride to our stop and we get off and it looks like 48th Street in NYC, nothing but music stores. I'm looking to score a deal on a Mosrite (Japanese) and I'm disappointed in the stock in most of the stores. We make some new friends at one store by handing out autographed picks. One salesman even has the Gretsch logo shaved in the side of his head. Cool. At the last shop I find a black Mosrite Ventures for a deal. Decide to wait till tomorrow to get it, as I might find something else in my travels. Besides, it's nearby. We walk back from Ochanomizu about 20min. but not bad. Head up to the room to write and check emails.

Out to a noodle shop for dinner. Have Ramen with bell peppers and chicken, also gyoza, and rice. All for under $7. Baseball game is letting out as we're walking back and we're swimming against the tide. Make it into the hotel and there is a queue for the elevators. Luckily the line moves fast. Back to the room for the night. Do some reading and crash.

Nagoya - Gig

Sleep late again (6:30am). No McD's in sight so I drink green tea and surf the 'net till lobby call at 10am. Van to gig, 45min. Gear is already on stage when we arrive. Damn, the Japanese are good. Have my laundry sent out, hope it's not too expensive. Set up, and line check, done by 1pm. Do photo shoot with Japanese guitar magazine. They want to shoot all 20 of my guitars, takes no time, done by 2pm. Doors are at 3pm and show at 5pm. Wow. Show goes well, band throws a few nuggets in for good measure. Load out, back at hotel by 8:30pm. Seems later. Oh well, shower and take my bag down to the lobby to be sent ahead. Time to read. I just started on my last book, think I'll need to trade around with someone before the tour ends.

Atomic Dome, Hiroshima, Japan, originally uploaded by guitartech.

Sleep till 7 this morning, probably due to the late night (for me at least). Go down to the McDonald's in the basement, much shorter walk. See numerous fellow crew members eating. Hang out for a bit, then back to the room to get my stuff together for the trip to Nagoya. Train station is 30min. away of course. We ride the Bullet Train again, takes 2.5hrs. to get to Nagoya.

Arrive in Nagoya. Hotel is only 20min. away this time. Get to my room an there's my bag. Score!! This hotel also has free high speed internet. Score again!! I'll be able to finally publish this blog today.

Head out for some lunch, and it's after 2pm, so everything's closed again. Walk by the Hard Rock Cafe and decide it's hot, and probably we'll do no better foodwise. Meet the other half of the backline crew there. I have Blackened Chicken Pasta, and it is amazing. Or probably mediocre, but after the Cup O' Noodles it's killer. It comes with a price, $16. Wayyyyy too expensive, but what are you going to do. I'm now stuffed, we linger a while watching the lame videos they are playing and looking at the memorabilia on the walls.

Stop by the Lawson's on the way back for a big bottle of water. Head up to the room to do some web surfing and blog writing. After uploading this blog, fighting to stay awake. Decide to go for a walk, dark now and cooled down to 90. Hit the convenience store for ice cream (too full from lunch to eat dinner). Head back to the room to IM my lovely wife and read till I fall asleep.

Hiroshima 'Before' the Atomic Blast

Hiroshima "Before" Model, originally uploaded by guitartech.

Hiroshima "After" Model, originally uploaded by guitartech.

Sleep in till 6am. Must go to McDonald's at 8am, I think it's the law now. Walk the 3 blocks to the arcade and the closest McD's. Today I discover how to Supersize my Orange Juice, this is a major breakthrough. After breakfast, walk around the arcade, go in a few stores that are open (still early). Head back to the hotel to get some more yen.

Decide to go to the Peace Park and the Atomic Bomb Museum (might as well get some culture). Arrive at the Peace Park a few blocks from the hotel. There is a building called the Atomic Dome, which partially survived the nuclear bomb of 1945. We enter the museum and start the tour. This is a somber place, and a sobering tribute to the atrocities of war. The nuclear bomb that ended WWII killed around 200,000 of Hiroshima's citizens. We now have bombs thousands of times as deadly as that one. Wow. Leave the museum a little sullen, but glad that I went.

Walk around some more and decide to shop for gifts and spend $100 easy. It sure goes fast around here. My legs are starting to hurt from all the walking, plus these bags are getting heavy. Quick stop at McD's for lunch, don't feel like trying to find anything else. Back to the room and oops another nap. Wake up around 7:30pm. Not too hungry, but walk out the side door of the hotel and see food signs. there seems to be 5 floors of restaurants right next to the hotel. Why did I not see this before. Scope them out, but most are closing. I do see that there is a McD's in the basement, right under the hotel. Doh!! Make note for tomorrow morning.

Oh well, back to the Lawson's for Cup O' Noodle. Take my bag down about 10pm and before I can even get out of the elevator the bellman is taking my bag from me. I ask him to put it with the other crew bags. I get a blank stare. I follow him and he finds another bellman, after many hand gestures, we seem to agree that my bag will go with the others. I pray it is at the hotel when I get there. I don't want to lose it again. Read till 1:30am.

Bullet Train - Osaka

Bullet Train, originally uploaded by guitartech.

Down to Mickey D's for breakfast again. I'm starting to really like hotcakes ;) Walk over to a see if I can find a guitar store that I want to check out on the return trip. Find it and make a mental note of the location. At 10am we depart the hotel for Hiroshima. Today we take the Bullet Train, which averages about 150mph, doesn't seem that fast, but it gets you there in a hurry. On the way we are informed that the show in Hiroshima has been cancelled, due to the singer's fall on the previous night's gig. Great, more days off, more $$ to spend.

Arrive in Hiroshima, it is boiling hot, of course. My bag is already in my room. Now that is service. Head out to shopping district in search of food. Walk around for an hour shopping and still looking for food. It is around 2pm, so some places are already closed for lunch. End up in a conveyor belt sushi place again. This one is a little more low rent and I soon realize, especially by the waitresses uniforms, that we are in the "Waffle House" of sushi restaurants. Food isn't bad, but since it's so late, no new sushi is being added. We just watch the same stuff go around and around. Finally we decide to leave and my bill is under $4. Cool.

Shop some more for gifts, mostly just scope out stores for tomorrow. Find a cool guitar store and spend 45min. looking at guitars, too expensive to buy anything here. Back to the room and a break from the heat. Fall asleep for an hour or so, it's dark when I get up. Not too hungry, so head out to the Lawson's for another Cup O' Noodle dinner (280yen). This one is very spicy, but good. Watch some Japanese baseball on TV. Then due to my nap, I read till about 12am before falling asleep.

Osaka - Gig Day

Awake at 5am. Toss and turn till 6. Wait till 8 to venture out to Lawson's (convenience store) for provisions. It's boiling hot already, stop annd get McDonald's hotcakes on the way back to the room. 10am lobby call for gig, get in van, ride 30min. to gig. It's another gigantic baseball dome. They've decided to not turn on the A/C till we get there, I feel like a turtle in a small terrarium, throw in some lettuce please. Set up gear, eat lunch in catering, surf internet, wait for band, etc. Band arrives, no soundcheck, cool. Head to catering for dinner, they are serving tiny little baked potatoes, about the size of a red potatoe. Each in their own aluminum foil. Delicious.

Show is at 6pm, gets off to a good start. During the last song before the encore, singer falls off stage (which has been raised to 7-8 feet). Security guy breaks his fall and he seems OK. Most of the band didn't even see it happen. Finish show, load out, return to hotel by 9:30pm. Shower and take my luggage downstairs (it goes by truck to the next hotel). In the lobby are numerous Japanese fans and they pounce on certain members of the crew looking for picks, etc. They don't bother me and I head back up to the room and stay up till 11pm.


Get a call and go to McDonald's around 8am for breakfast, I decide to buck fashion and wear shorts, as it is unbearably hot. Order hotcakes and eat outside next to street café-style. While eating, assorted crew members show up with tales of falling asleep last evening and awaking in the middle of the night. Well, at least I'm not the only one.

Hang out at Mickey D's for awhile. Then venture off with my usual day off partner in crime Jerry. We head for the arcades with Electronics Town (ET) the ultimate destination. This place is like some whacked out SOHO and Canal Street rolled into one. Shops of every description and small restaurants (I use the term loosely, as some are just stands) are every few feet. It is never ending and a little overwhelming. We find one arcade that is all restaurant supply stuff. Some cool pottery and places that sell the fake plastic food that you find outside the restaurants here to advertise what they sell. The plastic food places are bizarre, everything from plastic sushi to plastic beer. We browse and vow to return and buy gifts on the way back.

On our way to ET, we see a music store. As Musos we go in and check out the new and used guitars, even see a few deals, but pass on buying anything. Hit a few storefronts in ET, see some cool digital cameras that probably won't hit the US for a few months. Deals aren't any better than the States (some worse). But, if you want the latest-greatest this is the place. I want a new digital camera, but I've been looking at them for a year now and have still not decided to pull the trigger on one. Check out a cool Hobby store with 5 floors of models and such. Search for a Ducati GP bike model, but no go. They have plenty of Honda ones though, even a Biaggi one. May go back for it.

End up back at the restaurant row and buy a few gifts. It's now time for lunch and we remember passing some good noodle houses in our travels, so we head that way. Now of course we can't find anyplace to eat, there are McDonald's and Wendy's, etc. but we don't want those. After walking around for an hour we finally decide on a conveyor belt sushi place we've passed a dozen times. We go in, it's pretty busy, but we get a seat at the front. These places are great, the sushi comes by on little plates with one or two pieces of sushi on them. You pick what you want and the plates are totaled when you finish. The guy is making sushi right in front of us, so you know it's fresh. Normally sushi is not that great in Japan compared to the US. No California Rolls, etc. just pretty normal nigiri sushi. I must say this was the freshest sushi I have ever had, the tuna had obviously been freshly killed, and seen minimal freezing (if any). The ebi (shrimp) was also outstanding. There were quite a few things we didn't recognize (or eat), so we just let them pass by. We finish and tally up the plates, my total comes to 960yen. I'm stuffed and it's under $10, who says Japan is expensive?

After eating, we realize we have been walking around for 5+ hours. Time to take the purchases back to the room and get a little rest.

Well, after 45 min. of rest I start getting sleepy (it's only 5pm). Not good. I decide to venture back out, Jerry passes, so I'm on my own. I want to check out the Amerika Town (like our china towns), just north of the hotel. Walk through an arcade I have never been through and buy a shirt for myself along the way. Get to Amerika Town and it's a lot of alleys with small vintage clothing, record and shoe stores. There's a bunch of punk rock kids and a few sleazy looking characters around. Feel a little uneasy, but have no problems. Visit a few vintage places, now I know why there's no good vintage in the US anymore, it's all over here!! Some places have 10,000+ items, wow. See a few bargains, but most stuff is overpriced and see nothing I can't live without. Wander back to the arcades and decide to hit the Tower Records near the hotel. Score a Gladhand's Best Of CD in Tower and a Japanese guitar mag. By now it is 7:30pm and I've walked around for almost 8hrs. today. My dogs are barkin'. Go back to the room, email, read and make it to almost 11pm before falling asleep.

Gee, it's 4am again. Watch some crazy Japanese TV, they have strange shows here and seem to be obsessed with food. Even on the news they show what the people they are reporting on, had for dinner. Weird. Raining again. Put on the same clothes for the 4th day in a row. Sigh. Go down for 10:45am lobby call for airport, no bag. Talk to Yoko, she says my bag will be at the check-in counter. Get on bus, ride 30min. to airport.

Arrive at airport. Go to counter with Yoko, and see my bag directly behind the girl checking us in. Ask if I am able to open it before the flight, she says OK and hands me bag. Score!! I immediately get new clothes out and put them in my backpack so I can change ASAP. Reluctantly re-check my bag with ANA Airlines. Hope it makes it to Osaka!!

We are getting a group check-in, so it takes a while. Band and their families arrive (they are on same flight). See my boss and talk motorcycles, etc. until I realize the crew is gone and I'm now hanging with the band and autograph hounds. Walk to the gate with boss and family, he doesn't get hassled too much. Arrive at gate, where there are 100 or so Japanese schoolgirls in uniform, who freak when singer arrives. Try to distance myself from the cacophony.

They board us first, pretty cool, and we (the crew) sit in the upper deck of the 747. BIG plane. I have a window seat, and there is even a compartment under the window that my messenger bag fits in. Cool! Plane is full and Japanese crew member sits next to me (in middle seat). He smells of alcohol and BO. GREAT. I avert my nose and look out the window, we are very high up, compared to the usual jet. On take off, they have a camera mounted on the landing gear, and you can see the runway flying by. VERY COOL. We don't seem to be going very fast, but plane takes off easily. Uneventful flight, do see the strange man-made island airport that is built outside one of the cities (forgot which one). I hear it sinks a few inches every day.

Arrive in Osaka and go to baggage claim. We have our own belt for our group. Watch as regular passengers get their bags and leave. Wait by our special belt, and get our bags slowly come out 10min later. So glad we got the "special" treatment. My bag arrives and I hug it. Head outside, immediate climate change from Sapporo, HOT and HUMID, did I mention HUMID? It's about 96 degrees and I have jeans on. Find the truck and load in bag, then go to bus. Hotel is 45min away, grrrrrrrr.

Get to the Swisshotel and check in. Hotel is above the Namba station in a very busy part of Osaka. Around the hotel is a ton of arcades (covered shopping streets) and an Electronics Town (which is a street full of big and small shops all selling the same gadgets for about the same prices).

Go out with other backline guys across the street to noodle shop. They have gyozas!! We order some, and I order Ramen too. Gyozas are great and only 190yen. Cheap. Walk around arcades a bit, notice that although it is incredibly hot, no one is wearing shorts, except for kids and old people. How fashionable. We head back to hotel around 6pm, promise to meet others around 8pm for dinner.

Start reading in room and decide to take short nap around 7pm. I awake at 9:30pm and feel like I've been drugged. Go back to sleep and awake at 2:30am. Uh oh. Go back to sleep till 4:30am, then get up to read and check email. Sun is not up yet, it waits till 5am to rise.

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