With Yonago being such a short drive today Yoshi takes us for a bit of sightseeing. We’re visiting one of the prettiest and top shrines in the country, Izumo Taisha Shrine. Up here in this part of Japan where Izumo is located, there are lots of myths about their Gods or Kami that originated from this area. Needless to say there’s many sacred and revered places to see. The Taisha Shrine had just had its once-every-60-years-cleaning done so the place had an extra shine and sparkle to it.
Around Japan, there aren’t too many significant structures that are still the original. Most were either destroyed by an accidental fire, civil wars and earthquakes or from the bombings in WWII. They were of course rebuilt as close to the original as possible and to my beginner’s eyes all the ‘redux’ have been spectacular. This shrine is the original. It’s around 1,500 years old. For once I also have a bit of spare change in my pocket as an offering to the Kami for my prayers. The place is beautiful.
That being done we get on the road to Yonago. We get to the club and it’s the usual. People waiting to receive us and many to help us load in our equipment. We prepare the stage and then we’re told they’ve prepared a little lunch for us. We eat and head over to a local radio station to do an interview that is to be broadcast the first two Sundays in January. (January 3rd & 10th – Daraz.fm79.8- link will be posted) it’s fun doing the interview and listening to the back and forth of the main DJ and his assistant. I do the interview in English and only sometimes do I speak in Japanese. I still have pretty bad pronunciation. If Yoshi is with me and I attempt to speak to someone or jump into the conversation, most people will be polite and let me finish with my woefully bad syntax and grammar then they’ll look over at Yoshi with wide eyes and raised eyebrows in an obvious unspoken attempt to ask Yoshi – “What the hell did he just say!?” Oh well, no pain; no gain. Gotta’ keep at it. It’ll come eventually.
We get back to the gig for our show and tonight it’s two opening bands on the bill. Both have been around this area for a while and have good followings. One band features a pair of brothers and the next is the DJ Hamasaki fronting his band. It was funny to see how he really changed from being this mild mannered regular guy then on stage with his leather pants and jacket and rock star gestures while the band played…music is so moving sometimes. Tonight is our biggest crowd of the tour. Over a hundred people have come to see this event and the room is full and sold out. SRO only, and here we are in Yonago. This is pretty exciting. We hit the stage but I notice when I’m setting up my pedals the people sitting right in front of me start telling me ‘My Way Down’ and another tells me he saw me a long time ago here in Japan and to have a good show. Still – people out here in the middle of nowhere in a town that sees so few foreigners in it but they know me and my music from over 20 years ago and here I am. Amazing.
After the show the promoter had arranged a dinner in our honor, like all the others had done but this was the most elaborate. When we arrived at the restaurant and I was shown to the room I walked into this big area with the sunken tables and a long table on one side with three smaller on the other side and everybody broke into applause upon seeing me. It was a bit overwhelming to me. Everybody from the opening bands were there and some of their friends and the staff from the club. We then did the pictures with everyone and all the girls that were there said ‘Chris goes in the middle and let’s put all the girls around him. ‘Jo se maru ni’ – ‘a circle of girls’- I had no objections to this arrangement. With the photos done we all did ‘Kanppai’ then the eating commenced.
They had printed up special seating placemats for this dinner with our names on them and the menu for tonight’s meal with each course listed. There was to be 8 in total and the main culinary feature is the Yonago specialty – Snow Crab. The crab was prepared four different ways and each one was ravenously consumed by me because it was just too delicious. From steamed to ‘Nabe’, (a soup/stew), to raw, yes raw. All delicious. There I was again, having a grand time talking in both English and Japanese and making new friends and memories. The hour was getting late and so I said I needed to get back to the hotel to rest up for tomorrow. The hotel was a short 5 minute walk but the promoter insisted upon getting me a taxi and I acquiesced. The promoter said ‘Nobody walks in this town, they take a taxi’, when in Rome I guess….sure enough the streets were dead quiet of pedestrians and I attempted small talk with the driver for our short trip to my hotel. Another memorable evening here in Japan.