The Return Of The Kiichi-Kun I
There's no place on Earth that I strive to be in more than Japan; no where I feel more at home (outside of my own home); no where that when I'm away from it, I miss like one misses loved ones on a trip far away in some remote part of the planet.
I was born in the Yamaguchi prefecture (Iwakuni) January 26, 1986. I consider myself to be half-Japanese (my mother's side), half-Marine (thanks to my military father). My family relocated to the USA when I was about 1, so I have zero recollection of ever being in Japan as a child.
Thankfully - due to the band I am in, I am able to return once every year and a half or so. Lately - and unfortunately - Trivium only comes back for either a brief press run or one show in Tokyo. One show? That's torture! I'd prefer to have a year long tour there than one measly show. Either way, one is better than none. Trivium returned for Loud Park 2013 and we had the greatest Japanese show ever, and one of the greatest shows of our career even. But if you live in Japan, you probably already heard about that show. Let's go behind the scenes of everything else that happened on my visit.
My wife Ashley and I both have a strong love for all things Japan: the people, the art, the food, the architecture, the history, the language, the mythology, the religion, the music, the sub-cultures… basically any and everything Japanese is something we want and need to be fully immersed in. Ashley decided to join us on our one show stint, and we both decided we'd stay an extra 3 and a half days just to do whatever we want: eat, drink, sightsee, learn, and enjoy.
I live a strict life on the road: no food 4 hours before a show, no food 3 hours before bed, no alcohol, no caffeine, rigorous exercise (yoga, weights, Jiu-Jitsu), and I ensure 8-10 hours of a sleep a night. In Japan? All rules are broken, cuz hey! It's Japan! After our long flight, we checked into the Tokyu Excel (one of my favorite hotels due to it's insanely centralized location within Shibuya (one of my favorite cities on the globe)) we all dropped our bags and headed down to go eat (the most important thing for me when in Japan). We then met up with one of our dearest friends in the entire world, Koji from Roadrunner.
Koji is one of the first people I met in Japan, we've shared some of the best meals of our lives with him - Ash and I even invited him to our wedding; I consider Koji a "food soul-mate" of mine. So naturally, we knew he would know what's up for chow tonight. Hell… I even recall a night where he, Corey and I were at a bar till 6 am; me doing headstands, Koji fueling the shots, then CKB and I DJing "In Waves" before it was even out for anyone at the bar. Now that is very rare for ol' Kiichi-kun on the road.
We rallied up our entire band, most of our crew, Ashley, Tommie-san (Trivium Japan president), and headed to Rakuzou, an Izakaya spot. We tore into: the soft-bones of chicken; beautiful Japanese beer (the best in the world!); samma sashimi, karage; sashimi salad; yaki-tori of heart, skin, and other yummy-bits; bacon-wrapped asparagus; ebi-mayo (Koji's fave); a delicious packet of chicken prepared unlike anything I've had; fish fins and mayo; grilled beef; a few deserts (matcha affogato, and a custard); then grilled oni-giri (my mother always made me oni-giri, so while in Japan - I need this). Izakaya is a favorite of mine due to the fact that everyone gets to eat together, tasting the same things your dinner-friends taste; this is my favorite thing to do with loved ones: eat and share and just be.
Calling it early due to the big show the next day, everyone slept quite hard; I managed to get about 11 hours of sleep that night.
The following morning was show-day; I awoke ready to get back to eating. A couple of us suited up to trek in the deserted early morning streets of Shibuya, where breakfast is a rarity. For a city and a country so obsessed with food, finding breakfast is a very daunting task. Lucky for us there was a new small chain, Kamukura.
Ashley is more of a croissant and cafe' au lait kinda gal, so noodles and rice and beef for breakfast is a hard notion for her to swallow. I understand that ramen for breakfast is sort of crazy to a Japanese person, but I say ramen time is any time of the day. I had both a rice and beef bowl with a sunny-side up egg and ramen with pork and gyoza and rice balls. Man! Oiishi!
Afterwords, it was time for yet another tradition of mine, the Starbucks matcha frappucino. We don't have this drink in the US of A; I drink a lot of these when in Japan - and yes, I prefer local buisiness and small local chain to global chains, but this matcha frapp can't be beat. I guzzled it down happily and headed to the hotel to pack up for the upcoming show.