The first in a series of occasional writings from Fucked Up drummer Jonah Falco.
With the utmost respect, support, and solidarity to the Japanese people.
Flashback 2009, Japan:
No matter how many trips east you have under your belt, certain things about that land on the other side of the planet will always seem fascinating. The first moment you stare at a map and really notice how far from home you are, or the whole realization that you're really just a face in a crowd, incongruent with any of the life, language, or flow of the population. The latter triplet of 'lost' manifests itself in more than one way. As simple as listening to announcements on a subway train, eavesdropping on a conversation, or the unavoidable insipid giggling at awkward signage in English (which I am apparently endlessly fascinated by). Your tongue doesn't matter, your manner is useless, intuition is skewed. Well that's the ideal anyways.
Tokyo is all buzzing. Pretty happy as far as anyone can tell with no real indication of widespread penury. Mostly the compounds of zero after zero in an electricity bill, civil ingenuity, Dopplered clucking - and if there's a word for it - smells that bend in the same way with all the corners in that endless labyrinth. Tokyo is a city of cracks I imagine. Once the mania lets up it feels like you've been exiled into an empty orbit until you can re-enter a new theatre. The mega centre broken down village to village. Station to station. There are not many other people in orbit, everyone is on the inside, in the street clustered like magnetic human dust, soon evanescences between creases, primely moved by little gusts.
Most westerners are pretty prepared for it, us included. But in case we weren't, we had a good purpose to frame our visit. Musical tourism. What can I say, sometimes it's wonderful to have a reason to be somewhere. Takes the edge off of being a stranger, and still allows for the blissful anonymity of travel. We were led to our own private crack on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floor of a hotel in a trendy neighbourhood called Shibuya where blue and white kimonos were folded neatly at the edge of our beds, with a pair of slippers accompanying them on the floor. Japanese hospitality. Broad daylight, exhaustion was battered into submission in the interest of taking Tokyo.
Budokan, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Koenji, Shibuya, Ginza, shrines, temples, parks, scrambles; we had them all over the few days we were there. *We* bow to the economic miracle, but we all do. What's worth talking about is our time spent outside of weaving between shoe stores.
The first moments are orientative. Their wake manifests confidence first visually, then spatially, and the last and most permanent mapping for me is always from the mouth and what goes in it. The Japanese people are often associated with perfection. So obsessed that they might pursue it to the point of self destruction. Aside from leaps one makes towards a new culture, one of the first things one starts to notice is that the population itself achieves a kind of perfection...proportionally formed to the Nth degree....For the heavy eyelid of the world eater, only some horror goes along with the thoughts of what literally "goes into" making Japan's stackable population so divinely proportioned. Degrees of latitude and longitude end up chicken bowels under the overground rail, whale sausage in the Asakusa pedestrian market, and the consolation of familiar hot soup at home base in Shibuya. We continue on. Unrelenting in our shamelessness, comfortable with our confidence, having the time of our lives.