Archiv für November 2010

„we‘re big in Japan – 我々は日本で大きい“

. . . we had to say that at least once --

another new tallbike was welded into creation last weekend!


the project in Japanese at Irregular Rhythm Asylum

The Holy Banana

The 30-day race through China from Erlian to Tianjin ended with us nearly missing the ship to Japan. We unpacked our bikes in front of the check-in counter, and while we waited for them to open, two went off to a little Chinese cafe to fill our fire-blackened pot with fresh noodle soup. In that time, the baggage check-in and customs office opened . . . and wanted to close again, telling us that if we didn‘t pass now, we would have to stay in China another week until the next ship departs. What about our expiring visas? Just go to the embassy, they said. But we imployed the „Bubamara Strategy“ to keep them open for an hour. Playing that song always makes officials like us more — just like hitchhiking across the Mongolian-Chinese border one month ago, when we were refused passage by bike or foot. Play Bubamara and they start clapping . . . at least until higher authorities arrive and quiet us . . .

The ship planned to leave at 3am, so when we woke up at 8am, still in the harbor, we wondered why they made such a fuss about checking in 12 hours earlier, We finally pulled out of the dock at 1pm, and after dropping anchor in the sea the following night, we had a total of a 24-hour delay . . . but we used the time to rehearse and discover ALL the hidden corridors of the ship.

Well, almost . . . the hurricane on the southern coast of China gave us quite high waves. When we weren‘t throwing up, we blew the trumpet and clarinet on the upper deck in the night wind. Jakob wrote an anthem for the broken monkeys — his first song playing accordion and singing at the same time. We performed for the passengers in the ship’s lobby and made our first 1000 Yen and two Cup-O-Noodle soups.

Kobe was fun —
after a night on a beautiful mountain, we left our bikes and stuff at a student dorm and went backpacking 2 nights in the city center with our music instruments. Jamming on a street corner in front of one of the millions of 7-11 Mini Marts with several drunken businessmen was a delightful way to spend half a night. Then we took a vacation in France . . .

Japan is expensive --
although we are developing a distinct monkey style and hitting all the right notes together, somehow the many Japanese rushing through the streets of Kobe, Kyoto and Nagoya aren‘t very interested in our show. Maybe we‘re just used to the throngs of people crowding us in Mongolia and China. Here, they don‘t look at you if you have a skeleton mask on, or squeeling on the trumpet, or doing a clown sketch. To get attention, you have to put on a pink mini-underwear and do push-ups in front of the fashion shopping mall . . . but they don‘t put money in the box, even if you ask.

Some foriegners living in Japan like us and support us financially or with food and drinks. However, most tourists seem almost annoyed with us. We guess they don‘t want to see European musicians on their exotic excursion to Japan . . .
What we found out, to our surprise, is that asking older people to put up the tent in their garden, seems to work wonders . . . fruits, dinner and all the neighbors pushing bills in our pockets.

We made visiting cards in Japanese and are working on a bars in Tokyo. If we could at least earn enough for our food — 10 Euros per day per person is crazy, plus chain oil and some bike parts, etc. . . We four spend around 50 Euros per day. For instance, it took 30 minutes to upload these photos and copy this text from an SD-card, which makes this blog entry worth 3 Euros.

But it’s not all warped and drowning in plastic packaging --
* Bruno and tyle are learning the slide trumpet,
* Ballak and Jakob are learning the accordion,
* Bruno and Ballak are also learning the clarinet, and
* we traded our quiet half-sized guitar for a louder steel-string guitar.

The contrasts in Japan are astounding: small roads pour into trucking lanes with little notice, and larger pedestrian ways end in a jumble of overhead signs. Everything is so clean — we even saw someone vacuum-cleaning the sidewalk. The super-stores and ear-wracking pachinko-parlors abound, but the traditional archetecture prevails . . .

We also stayed three nights near Kyoto at Shoji’s amazing „CS-House“, which is open exclusively to couch surfers. Traditional sliding doors and tatami mats mixed with the tags and greetings of all the guests on the walls gave us a good feeling of arriving in a free travelers‘ hostel.

Now we‘re keeping a look out in the hundreds of second-hand-mega-stores for a small battery-powered 12-volt amplifier (like from VOX) to replace our broken snare — Bruno wants to become a beatbox-drummer, and with the amp, we could also use the mouth harp in the show.

With the prospects of a tallbike workshop on Nov. 20 and the possibility of getting jobs or playing in bars in Tokyo, we‘re cycling onward and trying Mt. Fuji along the way — see you in the capitol, the next holy banana!