We drove to Osaka for our day off in a small attempt to cut down on expenses. Yoshi could go home and stay at his house and John and I stayed down near the Namba Hatch station and the other few areas in Osaka that I know so well. The Soemon cho and Dontonburi areas. Lots of people out and shopping and sightseeing seemed to be the main endeavors here tonight. I’m just snapping pictures cuz’ the lights are just too hard to keep from gawking at. I venture out to my fave ramen place and eat and then go get a couple of donuts from Mister Donut’s shop, which is in the subterranean shopping mall. You forget that there’s all these shops in this area but then there’s this whole other area below your feet. It’s almost as expansive below as it is above. I was using my phone’s map apps to look for it and I couldn’t see it, couldn’t see it, couldn’t find it then it came to me; OH! It’s below me! Really beautiful here above and below ground. It’s amazing. I wanted to go out late at night and see the goings on that happen at that time because it changes when all the families go home from shopping and the ‘evening entertainment’ business begins. Great time to people watch and soak in the vibe. Love it here. But it started raining and I resigned to stay inside my room.
The hotel was a bit strict with their check out policy, 10 am check out, and we got on the road. Not too far of a drive, about 3 hours, and soon we were off the express toll highways and on to the regular ‘free’ roads heading in Okayama. The leaves here have changed color and many are still attached to the trees giving the hills and surrounding mountains in the southern Honshu area a mainly yellow or golden appearance with spinkles of red, green and brown from the other trees in the mix. Pretty stunning. It’s still not too cold down here but up north above Sendai they’ve already received a lot of snow. That is the snow country after all.
Arriving at the club we load in and it’s got this nice layout to it and it’s small but cozy. Just a tiny area that’s elevated to the right of the stage where you can only sit and not stand and with a metal grated fence that goes about 3 feet high so you’re able to lean on your elbows and watch the stage. It’s an industrial/Thunder Dome look to it and I like clubs that look like this. The stage is ample and the system is nice. Should be good tonight. This is my first time here and this is Yoshi’s first time in this club. It’s a first all around.
We get back to listen to some of the songs by the opening band. I’ve played with this guitarist before but not with this band. They’re called Y’sT, (wise tea?) and Frankie, who heads the band, has hired a female horn section to fill out the sound and they’re sounding pretty strong. John and I were in the dressing room off on the side of the stage and we were digging the horn kicks they were doing on the last song. Real strong sounding. Frankie was playing good too. We had fun listening to them and I told them so after their show was completed as we were all changing the stage over. We put our gear back up and soon were counting off the first song. Nice crowd and all the tables and chairs are filled and a few against the wall. Couldn’t make out if anyone was in the Thunder Dome section but I don’t think so. I was happy to see this many people last night and for my first time in. Yoshi told me the next day that Okayama is notoriously hard to get a crowd to come out for a local rock band and even harder for a blues based band. We have fun tonight and the crowd shows its approval with loud yelling and the shouting of our names between some songs. I speak just a little bit of Japanese from the stage, with Yoshi fixing my mangling of the phrase should silence befall the crowd after I’ve said something and then the crowd roars with a mixture of laughter and agreement.
The after party was fun too because I was able to talk a lot with the opening band and their friends and at the end when I got up to return to the hotel I went around to each person and said how happy I was to meet them and to hang out and talk. I hope we come back here next year.