The Journey Ends
Trip Start Jul 25, 2009
41Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
My pop's Place
What I did
Arrived, settled in, and tried to get a good sleep
The months leading up to my departure went by so fast, were so jam-packed with stuff to do, it amazes me that I can remember anything. First, it was after a decisive meeting with my board of education and my friend and co-planner Hirotaka Nishii that set the course of the following months: we planned to undertake a CD Release and Charity Festival at Toyone Village. Nothing short of over-ambitious, this would claim almost all my free weekends, and would require many, many hours of mixing and familiarizing myself with sound-engineering software such as Cubase and Logic Pro. In time, I would produce some decent demos, and thanks to the hard work and expertise of my pal Yoshi from Rockwest Studios, a CD called 豊根のこころ, or The Heart of Toyone.
It's a great CD, and if you'd like a copy please let me know - all proceeds go back to Japan to help the Tohoku Relief after the disaster that struck there this year.
The festival itself was intense - I had people arrived the night before, and trying to guide them in what was the foggiest night I've ever experienced in Toyone, I didn't get to sleep until VERY late. And, I got up VERY early. I was embarrassed that at MY festival, I was late. I got caught helping some friends arrive well, but the looks I got from the other main organizers was not helpful in relieving me of my guilt.
Much to my surprise, however, help was in abundance and we got set up on time. I had excellent MCs taking care of the whole event, good sound and stage people, excellent performers, a video man to tape the whole event and make a DVD out of it (ask for a copy and I will provide), craftspeople from all walks of life, multiple food-stalls with grandmas making fried squid, pounded-rice fried on sticks covered in miso sauce, hotdogs, fried noodles, etc., and a second stage manned by the ever-restless Jevon Allen. It was a huge success.
To top it off, one of my best birthday parties took my by surprise. I never advertised it, but thanks to my girlfriend Hiromi, I came into an afterparty dinner room full of good friends and lovely people, all cheering me on with a cake at hand. I almost started bawling. And then they threw out "For he's a jolly good fellow," and I really did. It was one of those moments I'll treasure for the rest of my life.
The rest is a blur, to be sure, since giant sake bottles were being thrown about, and my friend and fellow teacher Mr. Mitsuo checked in with about 20 giant bottles of beer to give around. Earlier that week, I had picked up beer for the event - about 13 cases of 24. My k-car almost didn't make it back to the mountains, and it was visibly being loaded down in the back. The things you do for a good time.
Following the event, it was gigs here and there, and packing up. I found storage for my things, and travelled Japan a bit, while making a stop into the Philippines. Check my friend's blog, at this link. It was an adventure I'll never forget, that led us through mountains, typhoons, rice terraces, bustling cities, sandy beaches, and startling revelations.
Then it was a hustle bustle two weeks in Japan, that went by faster that I could imagine. I visited friends in Kyoto, a couple visits back to Toyone to say goodbye, and then had a couple final gigs. The Farewell party was really something. Hiromi made the flier for the event, and single-handedly invited about 20 different performers. I had friends even send videos in do be played on the projecture, including the video Pat Hickey did up for me on the Anjyanai-sai event. Almost reduced to a puddle of goo again, I treasure the moments at this and the final gig at House of Crazy.
I'll never forget the kindness both foreigners and Japanese people have showed me in their country. Japan is truly the most welcoming and fruitful experience I've ever had. I've made friends to last a lifetime, experiences I'll never forget, and I believe I've forged an understanding of myself that will only inspire others to seek out their own adventures.
Here's to you, Japan. You'll always have a place in my heart.