For the past ten years, I've had the honor of traveling all over the world performing music. I made the commitment to myself early on that any amount of time not spent sound-checking or rocking out, I would voraciously seek out meeting new people, experiencing different cultures and trying as much local food and drink as possible.
I’ve sipped a “pint-of-proper” in the pubs of Ireland, Liters of ale in the gardens of München, Quadruples in the monasteries of Belgium, Bordeaux in the cafes of Paris, Ginjo-shu in the Izakayas of Japan and now, I'm excited to start sharing some of those stories with you.
The following is an excerpt of an article I wrote for The Growler Magazine about one of my favorite places in the world and one of my most embarrassing dining experiences that happened the first time I was there.
To read it in it's entirety, CLICK HERE.
My buzz has completely worn off.
Throwing back Asahi, Japan’s rice beer equivalent to Budweiser, the entire 12-hour flight over seemed like a good idea at the time, but now, standing in line at Japanese customs, I was beginning to rethink my decision to make friendly with the flight staff.
When you’re flying with a band that’s hauling enough electronic equipment and musical gear to power a small military base, making your way through international customs is enough to sober up even the most comatose of frequent flyers. Not to mention that handing over your passport to a customs agent somehow puts a person in a constant state of feeling like you’re only moments away from being asked to step out of your vehicle to perform a roadside sobriety test.
Just as I’m about to voluntarily extend my arms out to offer up a finger to nose test proving my clear-headedness, my passport is stamped and passed back through what reminds me of the bulletproof glass window at the SuperAmerica three blocks from my home in South Minneapolis. With a wave of a hand and a “Yokoso,” the international state trooper has declared his verdict. The entirety of Japan has pronounced me worthy of entrance.
Soon after leaving Narita International Airport, I check into Shibuya Excel Hotel, a “hoteru” whose charm lies almost entirely in the fact that it’s located in the heart of the city overlooking what someone told me was Tokyo’s version of Times Square, Shibuya Crossing. Having just left New York City’s ‘Great White Way’ performing on one of their many garden variety morning shows broadcasting out of Rockefeller Center, just off Times Square, I was skeptical Shibuya Crossing would be my speed.
But when I surveyed the sweeping expanse of the city from my window on the 20th floor, I was completely surprised by mesmerizing views of rooftop soccer fields and throngs of people filling the enormous intersection. Looking directly below me, I felt like I was looking into the largest aquarium I’d ever seen filled with pedestrians eerily resembling schools of fish swimming their choreographed dance, waiting their turn to join 2,500 of their peers in crossing the intersection in one fluid movement. There was order among the masses. It had a heartbeat, a pulse, a rhythm, an unspoken code amid the chaos that everyone seemed to understand and adhere to. This was not Times Square and the only thing pulling me away from this newfound discovery outside this window was my empty stomach...