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Japan Experiences?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by CQBASS, Mar 13, 2005.



    Dec 1, 2004
    Asheville NC
    I just got a possible offer to tour Japan and I'm psyched. I've always wanted to play there. Has anyone here done much playing over there? And if so, let me hear about it. The tour isn't confirmed yet but I want to know everything I can when making this decision. Thanks.
  2. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    I haven't toured Japan as a professional bassist, but I've spent a couple of months working in a coffe shop which included a number of smaller coffe-shop style gigs.

    It was great! All aspects of it: the cultural experience, the people, the bass playing, the food. I want to go back!
  3. I wish that has been my dream for nearly 15 years... Consider yourself lucky if you do.... All I can say is learn the basics of the language.. and you can go far.. it is considered very respectful that you are at least trying to speak the language.. Especially learn about asking about menus,and food, drinks etc especially if you'll be playing in bars,pubs,coffee shops etc,... If you need any help I can do what I can... I've been studing japanese for a while so ;)
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Who's the "possible offer" from, US band or Japanese venue?

    I ask because of the following story:

    Dave Berkman was talking about booking his first tour of Japan as a leader and he was feeling great because pretty much everybody he called was all "we'd love to have you play", and "that sounds great" and all of these, what seemed to him, positive responses (and booking commitments). Well as he got closer to the time to start getting signed contracts and/or committment letters, all of these "bookings" started getting a lot more tenuous. And as he went back over the actual wording he had gotten, he realized that NOBODY really committed to booking him.

    So he found out the hard way, even though he was involved with a Japanese woman and spoke the language and had some familiarty with the culture, that the Japanese don't like to say NO. Even when they know it ain't gonna happen. It's very impolite.
    He ended up getting the tour together and found, through working with someone there, that there is a "hierarchy" of sorts with the various clubs around the country and that politeness dictates that so -and- so at Club Such and Such be contacted first and if you work at these clubs, you won't look for booking at those clubs. And vice versa.

    My buddy Steve lived in Japan for a bunch of years and goes back every year to play. He plays with his network of musicians who still live there and there are 3 or 4 different clubs that he plays. But he's going to visit friends, not really trying to put a tour together or anything.

    Anyway, hope it all works out. Hope you can sleep on planes , it's a ****ing bear of a trip. If they buy the ticket, see if you can upgrade to business class, at least the seats fully recline...


    Dec 1, 2004
    Asheville NC
    Thanks for the replies. Ed, we were actually approached by a Japanese promoter so it wasn't like I was trying to sell it to people. It's not confirmed yet. I'm just doing preliminary research before I get my hopes up too much. I realize that these things can be tenuous at best, so I'm definitely taking it slow and careful. The last thing I need is to get over there and have things fall through. It's bad enough when it happens in this country, never mind an ocean away. All my friends who've toured over there seem to have one thing to say in common; people over there give alot more respect to musicians than they do here. Kinda like europe. I hope this turns out to be the case and I really hope this all works out. But like I said, I'm not going to rush into anything. I'll believe it for sure only when I'm eating sushi in Osaka. Thanks for your thoughts. I'll post an update when I know more.
  6. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    A Friend of mine's band did a 6 month stint playing bars & clubs in and around Tokyo/Nagoya. They were happy to get home. They ended up losing money, and some of their gear got stolen in transit.

  7. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    On tour. We hit Tokyo, Osaka, and Fukuoka (the Blue Note clubs).

    I don't eat fish, so for me, the eating there kinda sucks. Everything sorta smells like fish. It smells like fish in the streets (kinda smells like pee too). The milk tastes like fish (perhaps they feed fish meal to the cows). Ick.

    Don't bother to buy a Playboy, they pay little old ladies with razor blades to scratch out the pubic hair in all the pictures (really). It's funny; the sexuality there is actually kinda twisted, yet you can't see pubes. Weird.

    Everything is super expensive. Even a meal at Mickey D's will run you upwards of $20. Steak? Fuggettaboutit. Get a mortgage. Remember where you are. It's an island. Like fish? You're all set.

    ...BUT, if you're like me and you DON'T like fish, there's still a way to eat something somewhat resembling meat on a budget over there. They have these little restuarants called "Rice Bowls", where they serve, uh, bowls of rice. You can get them topped with beef (at least they say it's beef ;) ). Not a whole lot of it, but it's beef, and it's cheap eatin'. Basically, it's a few pieces of sliced roast beef kinda like you might get at a deli, on top of the a bowl of rice with onions. Pour on a bit of soy sauce, and you're stylin'. Don't ask for a fork. These aren't tourist places, you'll need to know how to use chopsticks.

    Saturday nights in Tokyo are hilarious. The normally reserved businessmen, in their suits, line the sidewalks, drunk, puking their guts out. Really a bit of a dichotomy, given how reserved a society they typically are as a whole - and as for their reserved nature: Don't assume they think you suck if they're really quiet during the performance. They can be quiet as mice (out of respect) during your set, and then absolutely blow you away with applause at the end.

    They LOVE artists...of all kinds. The fact is that they have, shall we say, a very homogenious society. Most people are conformists (not nearly the individuality you see in western culture). You gotta remember that pretty much everyone's got the exact same haircut. I won't go so far as to stoop to the old rude generalization that they all look alike (they don't), but they do all ACT alike. They're all very happy just being worker bees. The fact that we do trendy, edgy, out sh*t just impresses the hell out of them. They LOVE glomming onto our "trends" (for instance there's 50's clubs, where everyone dresses up, etc).

    They treat musicians with such high regard. They have more broad tastes, musically, as a whole (most of the planet has a more diversified musical landscape than here). They are some of the best audiences. Last set on Saturday, though, and that once reserved guy (that will likely soon be puking on the sidewalk) could suddenly break from his usual meek demeanor, and might just yell "Freebird!!" from the back of the room.

    They're pretty mellow unless juiced.

    One thing to be careful of: They're not to good at saying NO. You'll ask for stuff, and they'll nod, and say "hi, hi" (yes), but then whatever you asked for isn't there. Make sure everything you need is verified. Don't just ask and not follow up. Use verbiage like "will this request be possible, will you be able to do this?".

    My favorite memory of Japan? The Osaka Grand Hotel. The button for the street level floor was labelled (in brass, no less) "ROBBY".

    No kidding, really.
  8. Good story,.... I really hope things go well for you.. And that everything is solid. Gig times, hotels, transit etc, blah,blah.. Who know's depending on where you are my g/f will be going to Japan next month maybe she can come see you play or something ... Like I said before any language questions, just ask, I study japanese and my g/f teaches so it'll be no problem,.. Ganbare!!! Un ga ii dai yo ne! ;) :bassist:
  9. cetera


    Apr 29, 2004
    Surrey, England
    Endorsing Artist: Spector Basses & Cort Basses
    I was lucky enough to do a major two week tour of Japan a few years back with my KISS Tribute Band. We played Osaka, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Tokyo, Niigata, Sendai & Fukuoka....

    Wow! What an amazing time we had!! :bassist:

    Best things:

    1) Personal roadies for each of the band. He cleaned, tuned & changed strings on my basses ready for each gig. :bassist:

    2) Wardrobe assistant. She took our bloodied/make-up smeared costumes after each show and cleaned them up ready to be presented to us hanging in a wardrobe flight case when we arrived each time at the next venue on the tour... :)

    3) Karaoke. It was the 'honour' of the local Promoter and Venue Manager to perform karaoke for us at the best local restaurant after each show. We just sat there, gorging ourselves on food and saki, while they did their thang for us...!

    4) Early gig starts. The shows start early over there.... 5pm - 9pm is not unusual.... and then some of them go back to work!! :eek: :)

    5) Japanese girls. Very sweet... shy and demure. But get them back to your hotel in their school uniforms (really!) and they are wildcats!! :p :p ;) :smug:

    If it happens... enjoy your tour as much as possible! Try and stay sober so that you take it all in and remember it forever. There is so much to see and experience as their culture is so different... the worse thing you could do is numb your senses. This could be a once in a lifetime opportunity so savour it! :hyper:
  10. lefty


    Sep 25, 2004
    it allways cracks me up whem guy`s say "i`m big in japan"
  11. Japan is just an amazing place. If you're a city boy - look out, because tokyo will humiliate your sorry a##. it makes NY look like a backwater. there is no "nighttime" in Tokyo - it is a true, 24 hour city. When the sun is down, there are so many lights in the streets of Tokyo that you hardly realise it is night. it certainly scared me, being a smalltown boy. very little crime to be seen, but be aware it is always around. do not cross anyone in japan.

    music wise, they have a very unusual scene. their homegrown bands are really strange, playing hair/punk rock with lots of modal chords and atonal tunes, but they absolutely worship international bands.

    be aware that they rarely dance or yell, it impolite. they treat a concert like you would treat a movie - they sit quietly and listen, and then only at the end will they show appreciation by polite clapping.

    we played in a venue where there was a traffic light above the stage. when it was alright for the audience to stand up in their seat and groove along, the green light was on. if too many people were standing up in the aisles - the yellow light flashed and if they were about to bring in the police force for unruly behaviour, the red light flashed. it was bizarre, but fun.

    mate, i would jump at the chance - there are many artists who no longer headline in the US or Europe or UK but can still make a living out of their fan base in Japan. If they like you, Japanese people are loyal as Italian wives.
  12. CQBASS


    Dec 1, 2004
    Asheville NC
    Thanks for all the tales y'all. Hopefully this will all come together. I'll keep you updated. CQ