Tokyo’s most relaxed man?

Tokyo isn’t perfect. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But it is undeniably still a decent place to live.

That said, if more of the city’s citizens were even half as relaxed and ready with a smile as this man, then without a doubt it would be a truly wonderful location to call home.

relaxed Japanese man

An abandoned Japanese recording studio complex

There are lots of well equipped recording studios in Japan that can be rented out for relatively small fees. Studio/hotel complexes, on the other hand, are understandably less common. And it’s a number that was reduced still further when the Karaway closed its doors and became a haikyo.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Situated in the vicinity of Mount Fuji, the Karaway (a converted ryokan) offered accommodation, plenty of studio space, and a good sized performance/stage area. The perfect spot really for a band to get away, practice and possibly record a few songs. A scene and setting that back in 1983, Random Star clearly made the most of.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

The university formed band’s repertoire, among other numbers, included some Loudness cover versions — a heavy metal outfit that also visited the Karaway during its heyday. And, for a bit of a feel for their sound, Crazy Nights, a 1985 single, can be heard here:

Loudness Crazy Nights (mp3)

Nowadays, however, the Karaway is a very different place. There are no more bands, and definitely no more crazy nights. Not even mildly interesting ones — just reminders of them. Meaning the phone no longer rings.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

And the small office merely shows signs of what once went on there.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

The slightly unconventional desk perhaps suggesting it wasn’t quite your regular, run-of-the-mill receptionist position.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Condition wise, the building is still in surprisingly good shape — except where wooden parts of the structure have been exposed to the weather — although its age and half empty state do give it a slightly bleak vibe.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Also, vandalism is pretty much restricted to some rock ‘n’ roll damage to a not especially rock ‘n’ roll coffee dispenser.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

But what was more noticeable than anything was the silence.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Of course this is something that’s an integral part of all haikyo, as they were once buildings that people lived, stayed or worked in. But just like the abandoned and yet perfectly preserved school, the complete lack of sound was even more of a factor than usual. This time due to the constant reminders of music.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

And the instruments that songs were composed on.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Or simply played.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

But now sit utterly silent and unused. Making the Karaway a fascinating, yet ultimately quite sad place to walk around.

abandoned Japanese studio hotel

Clearly and comically the wrong compact disc

Music snobbery means that anything other than something by the most obscure of artists can result in one’s choice of new music being subjected to condescending comments — even downright criticism if it’s seen as especially dubious.

Utterly disdainful looks from the disc itself, however, arguably takes things to a new and rather disturbing level.

Japanese woman

John Lennon glasses still selling in Tokyo?

It’s thirty-one years ago today that John Lennon died, but his face is still very visible in Japan. In fact, not just his face, but his distinctive facial wear too.

Now how many pairs they actually sell is anybody’s guess, but this shop appears to stock nothing but those instantly recognisable round glasses.

Imagine that.

John Lennon glasses in Japan

Sights and sounds from Tokyo’s underground music scene

In Tokyo it’s always possible to see huge pop stars playing in equally massive surroundings, or well known artists doing good-sized gigs — all of whom are here to promote material that can be bought on iTunes, or found on a torrent site for free.

Yet equally thriving, albeit on a far smaller scale, is the city’s underground scene. It’s just hard to know it’s there that’s all, and even if you do, it’s not always easy to find out about venues and events.

Nights out like this one — held in a nondescript building that in normal circumstances would have been passed by unnoticed.

Tokyo underground music scene

But three floors down, in a space that’s primarily a workshop, it was a world that shifted from distorted beats by a DJ.

Tokyo underground music scene

To some almost excruciating sounds from a far more appealing piece of kit.

Tokyo underground music scene

Plus tunes hammered out on an oil drum.

Tokyo underground music scene

Or even more brutally forced from an angle grinder.

Tokyo underground music scene

Along with other performers whose output was in many ways as disturbing as their appearance.

Tokyo underground music scene

Tokyo underground (mp3)

Tokyo underground music scene

And yet it was all capped off with a semi-conventional ‘group’ that, considering what had gone before them, could almost have been described as pop.

Tokyo underground music scene

(A.E.S)

A double bass player in a Tokyo park

It’s not at all uncommon to see people publicly perfecting songs in Tokyo’s parks and open spaces, with the likes of violins, flutes and even keyboards regularly visible.

Somewhat rarer, on the other hand, is someone so dedicated to their art that they are prepared to do the same with a far from portable double bass. The sight of which was not only surprisingly, but really quite surreal.

Japanese double bass