On this crisp Saturday morning, November 12th, at 8:46 am, I find myself nestled in the third row of our van, surrounded by a small mountain of luggage and instruments. My mind wanders through the tapestry of yesterday's experiences and anticipates the unfolding of today. Our journey from Nagoya to Hiroshima was a seamless glide on the Shinkansen, Japan's bullet train—a marvel of modern transit that many in America might never experience.
As we sped across the Japanese countryside, the rhythmic clatter of the train provided a soothing backdrop to our bento box lunches and fleeting moments of rest. Upon arrival in Hiroshima, we were swiftly greeted by our driver and ascended the mountain to our venue—a place that exudes the warmth of family from the moment you step inside. It's a unique fusion of home, coffee shop, and jazz club, where the owners live with their two dogs just one floor above the lively hub below.
The entrance welcomed us with an open-air kitchen, radiating a homeliness that suggested it served purposes beyond the business. The owner's wife, with her gracious hospitality, offered us coffee and a selection of fine chocolates, a sweet prelude to the soundcheck and performance that awaited us.
The show was a symphony of connection; the music resonated, and we were in sync, each note a testament to our collective focus. Nearing the end, jet lag tugged at my consciousness, but the band's energy carried me through to a magnetic and appreciative audience.
Post-show, we indulged in a celebratory beer before venturing to a Michelin-starred Okonomiyaki restaurant—a place I had the pleasure of visiting six years ago on my second trip to Japan. Now, on my sixth journey, the love for this land remains undiminished. Over dinner, the club owner shared his harrowing tale of survival during the Second World War—a narrative that left us in silent awe. His home, his life, everything he knew, was obliterated by a bomb. Yet, there he sat, devoid of bitterness, sharing his story not from a place of anger, but from a wellspring of joy and understanding.
His recount of being buried beneath the rubble of his home, the wounds, burns, and bruises he endured, was delivered with a life-affirming joy and an undercurrent of profound understanding. It was a lesson in humanity—a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. I'm not sure I could embody such forgiveness if our roles were reversed.
Traveling offers the unparalleled gift of meeting people, of sharing in their lives, and of hearing their stories. It's in these shared narratives that we find our common humanity, the universal desires that bind us. If we could all navigate life with the grace and forgiveness of this club owner, the world would indeed be a more harmonious place.
This conversation, this trip, feels like a message from the universe—a reminder of the power of empathy and unity.