Our Japan tour kicked off with the usual blend of excitement and exhaustion. The day began with a smooth flight from Kitakyushu Airport, a place where the calm efficiency of travel starkly contrasts with the frenetic energy of American airports. There's a sense of tranquility here, a collective commitment to serenity that makes flying within Japan a joy.
We caught the first flight to Tokyo, where the night's performance awaited us. Travel days, devoid of glamour, are a test of our resilience. Landing in Tokyo, we had just enough time for a quick bowl of ramen before boarding a bus that felt like a luxury version of a Greyhound—clean, quiet, and considerate. Tokyo's traffic was a polite dance of vehicles, a gentle ebb and flow that led us to our destination: a posh hotel with the venue nestled on its third floor.
Upon arrival, the staff greeted us with the ubiquitous smiles and 'konnichiwas' that I've come to adore about Japan. Soundcheck took longer than expected, which meant no time to freshen up back at the hotel. Instead, we prepped in the green room, fueled by coffee and anticipation.
Our audience doesn't see the behind-the-scenes hustle—the jet lag, the lack of rest. They come for the experience, expecting us to deliver our best, and that's precisely what we aim to do. On stage, my focus was to sync with the band and the universe, to let go and let the music flow. Despite the internal battle that performers often face, I managed to find my groove.
Post-performance, we collected our merchandise sales and taxied back to the hotel. Barry and I didn't waste a moment; we were out the door to meet Shen, a Japanese bassist with New York City roots, who had tipped us off about a local bar. The spot was a gem, dimly lit with handcrafted woodwork and a DJ spinning an eclectic mix of tunes. Before we could settle in, the group was ready to chase the next culinary adventure.
Shen led us to a restaurant that was a jazz haven on the fifth floor of a quirky building, tucked away in one of Tokyo's iconic alleys. The vibe was perfect, with classic jazz records serenading us as we walked in. The place resonated with the sounds of Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chet Baker, and even a hint of Sarah Vaughan. There, what felt like a midnight snack was actually breakfast, as the clock had struck 1 AM.
After a night of laughter and stories, we acknowledged the need for rest. With Nagoya calling, we retreated to our hotel, ready to repeat the rhythm in a new city.