Recently the local headband enthusiasts in Starfucker, along with DJ Girlfriends, took a trip to Japan for a single special show entitled "One Night in Portland." (Video evidence is here). Starfucker's Ryan Biornstad was kind enough to share his tour journal from the trip, which included posing for a photo beneath some sort of ad for Portland ("For Your Future"), and lots of polite culture shock.
I hope they got their picture taken next to a burro painted like a zebra... oh wait, that isn't Tokyo, that's Tijuana. I also get those two confused.
Note to self: Tokyo = futuristic vending machines. Tijuana = burro painted like a zebra.
Anyway, Ryan's journal is after the jump:
The lyrics to John Lennon's "Oh, Yoko" would have a huge impact on me and my life right now if he sang, instead, 'Oh, Tokyo.' Being in Tokyo was like being in love. Everything's new, beautiful, exciting, and extremely efficient. Love doesn't mess around when it comes to getting it done, and neither do the Japanese. Someone-I-don't-remember-who told me that being in Japan was the first time they actually felt like they were in a different culture, and that was very true for me. Aside from the population being something like 98% Japanese, the whole cultural landscape is like 1984 with a very colorful fashion palate. Everyone is extremely polite, going to great pains to make sure no one is offended, it's extremely clean, and nobody locks their bikes. But underneath it all, I had this hidden suspicion that something very shady was going down to keep it that way. It's probably just my American skepticism, getting immediately cynical as soon as something seems so good and perfect, but either way, I thought it better to just have fun and be the most annoying tourist possible, so if later I find out there is something fishy going on (other than the food, bu bum kah), it will be well documented for later investigation. Oh, and yes, they do have vending machines on the street with beer and cocktails. (And bidets with a deodorizing button.)
The first night we rolled in pretty haggard. None of us slept on the plane, and I felt like I was on a boat, constantly rocking back and forth. But our spirits were soon lifted into the heavenly kingdom of udon noodles. Ann-Marie from cute-alert and Ryan from the Ace Hotel met us after a long shuttle ride to whisk us off to a place down a narrow, red lantern-lit alley in downtown Tokyo to meet Jeff and Laurie from Travel Portland (our financial and cultural support) for Noodles and, for Japan Shawn and Ingrid, sake. Josh was in the market for some green tea, which proved challenging given that our translator, Jeff, wasn't yet on the scene. When I gave the "host" my shoes to be put in a drawer while we ate he said, very enthusiastically, "oh, stinky!" I was now officially in love with this place. We slept however we could the next couple nights in the apartment provided by LeBaron, the club we were to play at Friday night. The owner of LeBaron, Luli, was extremely sweet and welcoming, and once we saw all the equipment rented for us to play (two drum sets, keyboards, amps, turntable, etc.), I realized how much work everyone had put in to making this show happen. Jeff was the most incredible cultural guide, having lived there for over 10 years (right?), Laurie reminded us to have fun and enjoy the trip, Ann-Marie coordinated with the club and Travel Portland (and came up with the idea in the first place), Ryan made us feel supported and important, Ingrid reminded us that we need to get business cards so we can come back, and Travel Portland provided the cold hard yen to make it all, well, paid for. All that and a traveling DJ Girlfriends to help us represent Portland so our Japanese friends will come visit us soon. We couldn't have been more grateful for this crew of people. I want to go back. Like now.