Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

Jersey City's favorite family band - The Rock N Roll Hi-Fives - are on tour in Japan, along with their good pal (and unofficial chaperone) Jim "Cool Dad" Appio. While dad Joe and mom Gloree enjoy their vacation, drummer Evren and singer/theraminist Eilee will be sharing their adventures with Jersey Beat's readers. Ya, ikoyo! (That's Japanese for hey ho, let's go!)




Hey guys! Hope you've enjoyed reading these journals Evren and I have been writing from our tour in Japan! Evren last left you off when he was sick in Tokyo. Sorry it's been a few days since we've written a journal - we had 3 shows all in a row and a lot of traveling in between. In this journal entry I'm going to talk about our second show in Tokyo at Penguin House and our show at Bar Ripple in Nagoya.

Since Evren was sick on our day off in Tokyo, we made sure we woke up early enough on Friday so that we would have time to explore a little bit of Tokyo. We wanted to go to Harijuku because I wanted to check out the shopping section and the area with lots of lights and bright buildings. Maki wanted to stay home to wait for her husband so the five of us embarked on our journey to Harajuku.

First we had to stop at Lawson on our way to the train station because we needed coffee and some breakfast. I think I was the only one who got breakfast, however, which was a fruit cup. We walked down a few blocks and crossed a really busy road before we made it to the train station. Mom and Jim had done research the night before on what trains to take so we knew the first line we had to take, but still had to figure out how and where we would switch trains. Once we got our tickets we headed to the platform and got on the train. The first train was really fast. Once we made it to the next station we got out and bought tickets for the next leg because the second train was a private line. After the second train we made it to Harajuku! We all hi-fived because we were pretty proud of ourselves for figuring out the switching of the train lines when everything was written in Japanese.

Oh no! There goes Tokyo...

When we got off the train we saw huge glass buildings. It reminded me of New York City. The first thing we noticed when we got off the train in Harajuku was the Meiji Shrine. I had seen this shrine in many Tokyo guides so we decided to make this our first stop of the day. Before you got to the main part of the shrine there was a beautiful path with trees everywhere and big entry ways. On the path there was a wall of barrels filled with sake. Along the way we stopped and took many pictures and then we reached the shrine. It was so beautiful and very big. The detail in the buildings was so amazing. The really cool part of this was that you were in the middle of this huge shrine with old building and trees surrounding you and then you look up and you see huge skyscrapers in the distance. In Japan you see a lot of old culture mixed with new culture which I think Is very interesting. Dad got a poem at the shrine written by the Emperor or his wife which was to have meaning for the receipient. He read it out loud to us and it was funny how spot on it was for Dad.

Mom and dad get weird

After we left the shrine we walked a few blocks and we found a thrift store called Chicago that I really wanted to go to. Most of the thrift stores I had been to in Japan were super overpriced, but this store was awesome! I got the coolest 70's velvet button for 450 yen which is $4.50 in US dollars. While Mom and I were in the store Dad, Evren, and Jim walked around Harajuku and went into Tokyu Plaza Omotesando which has a really cool escalator with crazy mirror architecture. When Mom and I finished shopping we all walked around and went back to the train station to go to Shibuya to the Robot Cafe.

We kind of had the train thing down by now so it didn't take us as long to get our tickets and walk to that platform. When we made it to the area of Shibuya in Japan and walked to the Robot Cafe. This area really reminded me of Times Square because the buildings were huge and there was lots of stores and restaurants as well as bright lights and big lit up build boards. We got to the Robot Cafe we realized it was closed so we took pictures in front with the robots instead. After that we walked around and found a really cool restaurant where Dad and I got beef, rice, and vegetables, Mom and Jim got chicken, rice, and curry, and Evren just got rice because he still wasn't feeling 100%. After lunch we walked around a little longer and Mom and I got frozen bubble tea. With a cold drink in my hand we went back to train station and made our way back to our Airbnb. When we got back we had to get ready for our show in Tokyo at the Penguin House. Our soundcheck was at 4:00 pm and it was about 2:30 so we all cleaned up and put on our show clothes. Maki's husband drove all of us in the van to the venue.

The club was in a really cool area. There was lots of food stands and stores all around. When we got to the club, we met up with Mom and Dad's new friend Atsushi, who they met through the Tweezers, at the bar called Poor Cow. He was really nice and knew Todd Abramson because his band Gorilla toured in the US. He wanted to come to our soundcheck since he couldn't make it to our show because the Tweezers were also playing a show that night.

After our soundcheck we went to a pizza place across the street with Atsushi and got a plain pizza and a vegetable pizza. It was perfect brick oven pizza and hit the spot before our show. We stopped at the candy store so I could pick up cool candies for my friends and teachers. After that we said goodbye to Atsushi and we all took a picture. We went back down to the club and ate some more Pocky before the show which I guess is a ritual we have now.

The first band that played was called M.A.Z.E. They were really upbeat and the girl singer was very into the performance. After that Foodie played their set and they were great as usual. They're so fun and unique which makes them a must see band. Flashlights were on third. They were a great rock n roll band with awesome songs. We were on last and rocked as hard as we could for Tokyo.

Dad set up his phone to broadcast the show on Facebook live and turns out, it was recording upside down! People's comments were hilarious - asking for the operator to turn the camera over. Well, no one saw the comments because we were on stage!

All of the crowds in Japan have been so into it. I love how everyone lets loose, gets close to the band, and isn't afraid to jump around. During our set we were playing "Do You Wanna Dance" and somebody in the crowd jumped on the stage and started singing with me. After the show we hung out, signed CD's, took pictures and packed our equipment. After the show the five of us went to 7-11 and got coffee and snacks. When we came back, Maki, her husband, and Happy were all packed up and ready to leave. We pulled up the van and said bye to Happy. Maki's husband had to meet up with somebody from his record label to pick up some records and then Evren and I were dropped off at the Airbnb because we were super tired since it was 1:00 am. They rest of the adults went out for ramen but Dad came back early because he wasn't feeling ramen and was tired himself.

The next morning we woke up around 8 since we had to leave for Nagoya by 11. We packed up all of our stuff and cleaned up the Airbnb. On our way to Nagoya we stopped at 7-11 for some coffee and breakfast. A few hours into the drive we stopped at a rest stop and went to the bathroom and had lunch. Japan is really amazing in this area because the public bathrooms are so great. The toilet seats are heated, they play music, they turn the fan on, and have toilet seat cleaner. There is a board outside of the bathroom that shows which stalls are taken, and the doors to the stalls go all the way down to the floor and up to the ceiling. They also have a room in the ladies bathroom with vanity mirrors and seats so you can freshen up your make up or fix up your hair.

The food section of the rest stop is really amazing too because it's not fast food. Everything is really orderly and all the food is fresh. There are bakeries, udon, gyoza, ramen, rice, noodles, burgers, pretty much anything you can think of but it's not greasy and gross. There's a huge area where you can sit and eat or shop for quick snacks in mini Family marts or convenient stores. After we ate our lunch which consisted of udon, gyoza, white rice, and bakery bread and then piled back into the van and made our way to Nagoya. The drive was so beautiful. Mountains on both sides and occasional views of cities and the ocean.

When we got to Nagoya it was drizzling so we quickly brought all of the equipment inside and started setting up for sound check. We met the owner of Bar Ripple, Nobu and his wife, who were both super nice. The bar was pretty small but the smaller shows are always fun because you're right there with the crowd. After our sound check we went outside and met the girls from Teto Pettenson. The bass player of the band was from Okinawa and brought of some really good spicy rice and peanut snacks from Okinawa. After talking to them for a little bit we wanted some coffee to warm ourselves p and get energized for the show so they pointed us in the direction of Starbucks and we picked up some coffee and snacks.

At the hostel

When we got back to the venue we hung out outside since it wasn't drizzling anymore and it was hot in the bar. Once the doors opened we went back into the bar and hung out with everyone. The owner of the bar was really nice and gave Evren and I orange juice on the house. The show started with Catholic Girlfriends which is Maki's other band. She plays bass and Isseki, who also runs Custard Core, plays guitar and sings. They were really fun and had a very indie rock feel.

The next band was Teto Pettenson. They were all girls and they had a really interesting set up. They incorporated stand up drums, bass, acoustic guitar, xylophones, keyboards, and a melodica. All of the members were super sweet and very excited to be playing with us. Third on the list was Manchester School. Maki's husband plays guitar and sings in this band. They were really high energy and played good rock n roll music. We played last and again we set up Facebook live which we later saw was very bouncy. We played with lots of energy and made the most of the rocking night. After the set we talked to many people who were super sweet. We took pictures with some of the bands and fans and we signed shirts and CDs. After we packed up and hung out with everyone, we had to load up the van because we were headed right to Kobe, which was a 2 and a half hour drive. Maki went home to Osaka and Isseki drove us to bar Alchemy because he lives in Kobe.

Bar Alchemy has a hostile upstairs and they were letting us stay there for free that night because we were playing there the next day. We rolled in at about 2:30 am and we had to quickly get whatever we needed for the night because Isseki had to go home. We were all super tired and it was pouring so we hurried into the bar where we met the owners Jacob and Paul as well as their friend George, who we were playing with the next day. We stayed and talked to them for about half an hour about the show the next day and how our tour was going. They were all super nice and we were really excited our last show was going to be here in Kobe. Jacob took us on a tour of the hostile. The first thing he told us was that the door stayed open 24/7 so you could come in and out whenever which freaked us out, but then we realized it was Japan and we were totally safe. He showed us the shower room, the common room which was really cool because there was a kitchen and a long table where you could eat or do work.

After we walked up a few floors we made it to the sleeping area. Mom and I had to be separated from the guys so we all took off our shoes in the hallway and situated ourselves in our bunk beds. They were really nice. There was a pillow, towel, blanket, fan, and light inside the bunk beds. Jacob told us that there were two other girls in our room but they weren't back yet which we thought was interesting since it was after 3 in the morning.

Mom, Jim and I went to the common room to brush our teeth, we later found out there was a sink in our rooms but it was too dark to tell, and when we got in the common room there was a guy sleeping on the couch which turned into a bed. He was sprawled over the bed with his clothes on and headphones in and didn't wake up when we came in. I couldn't stop laughing so I tried to stay quiet so I didn't wake him up. We brushed our teeth and went back upstairs and into our bunks. I couldn't fall asleep for a little bit but eventually I fell asleep around 4:30. Around 6:00 am we heard a loud boom that startled Mom and I, and we later found out the boys heard the boom too. It was one of the girls! She came into the hostel and was fumbling around and then when she made it into her bunk she fell from the top onto the floor, which was the boom. She laid on the ground for a little while and then got up and started throwing all of the shoes that were in the cubbies all over the floor. Somehow she managed to get back into the bed and we didn't hear her for the rest of the morning.

We feel asleep again and woke up around 9 to get ready to for breakfast. We found out Dad also had a pretty rough night because a guy came in after the girl fell and he was reaching into Dad's bunk when he was getting ready for bed. Dad said he smelt really bad and snored pretty loud. Besides the fact that this happened the place was really nice and the owners were really nice. If you're ever on a budget in Kobe and don't have a lot of luggage, this is a great place to stay.

(Thanks to Jim "CoolDad" Appio and Atsushi for the photos.)

The Rock N Roll Hi-Fives and Japanese friends


If you read Eilee’s part of the story, you heard that it was a crazy night at the dorm. I didn’t deal with all the bad parts because I am a really deep sleeper. I didn’t hear the girl fall off of her bunk or anything. I slept very well. No one else did though. We woke up and we went to a diner where I got pancakes. They were pretty good. The diner allowed smoking just like almost every other place in Japan. It was just pretty hilarious to see people eating their breakfast while smoking a cigarette. After we ate our breakfast we walked over to the Ikuta Shrine in Kobe. It was beautiful to see the mix between the modern buildings and the old shrines and buildings. It had woods and praying stations. Many people go to the shrine to pay respects to previous emperors, they don’t follow any religions in Japan. We took a lot of pictures and enjoyed the views of the city. We needed to meet all of our luggage at our Air B&B, so we took in the city as we made our way there.

Someone took a picture of Joe taking pictures

When we arrived at the Airbnb we met with Isseki to take back the luggage we left in the van. Since we barely brought anything to the dorm, we needed tour luggage and equipment. Dad took his cape and he was ready for our last show, along with the rest of us and Papa (Jim). We took a look at our Airbnb and we were extremely pleased because it was spacious and had a bed for everyone. The only downside was that it looked like a hospital. We were very hungry and decided to go out for some burgers. We went to a place called Bo Tambourine in Kobe and we met some nice people. We even got a picture with the cook (owner?) who was very intrigued by our band. We told him about our show, but sadly he couldn’t show up because of work. We ate the burgers and they were DELICIOUS. They might have not been Kobe Beef, but for us New Jerseyans it tasted like a big White Mana burger. So yeah, it was good. I had my normal bacon cheese and avocado. We went back to Bar Alchemy and talked to all the people at the bar. We talked to Jacob and Paul about what to do with our time in Kobe. Jacob suggested to go to the Herb Garden, which is a botanical garden on top of a huge mountain. He said it was a normal hike and that it would be a beautiful one. He said to hike up the mountain and take the cable car down the mountain. We thought it sounded like fun. Little did we know…

Who knew they made great burgers in Japan?

We got back to our Airbnb and prepared for show, resting for an hour and a half. We were ready! We walked again to Bar Alchemy, but this time it was to play. The drum set was one of those foldable ones that are for small places. It looked fine, just that the kick drum pedal is under the floor tom, not the middle of the kit. Seems like something small, but as a drummer it’s a huge difference. Back me up drummers!

The first band, Fashion Keys, were great. They played great Indie rock that sounds like GBV. They even played "Teenage FBI." And they played it awesomely. We were up next. We were warned that we had to play softly. Really hard to do. In our first song, Mom kept telling me to get quieter. Almost every 10 seconds she would turn and go “SHHHH”. The problem with this is I had Dad turning to me saying, “JUST ROCK! COME ON!” I had no idea what to do, so I just rocked. I found out later that the police were outside and Jacob talked with them them telling them that we were playing low and we would be done soon. Everyone knew this was going to happen, so we made the most of it. Dad was funny, as usual, and made a “ballad” to show the cops that we were playing soft. The cops left and we were back to rocking. In the last two songs my stools legs collapsed. You know how there are 3 legs on a drum stool? Yeah, well they all decided to fold in and I almost broke my neck trying to balance on the stool and not fall over.

What a hell of a show though. We took pictures, signed CD’s, met new people, talked to people we already knew. We had an amazing time. When we came back to the Airbnb we went right to sleep. Jim and Dad went to eat at a nearby noodle place. They said it was really good.

When we woke up we knew we were either going to Kyoto or to the Herb Garden that Jacob told us about. We decided we didn’t want to travel to Kyoto because we were to meet Maki, Isseki and Shogo for dinner, so we ventured to the herb garden. We got to the cable cars and we asked the lady there how to get to the hiking trail. She said it was behind the train station. So we walked there and then started following signs that said “Herb Garden This Way”. After a while of walking the signs stopped. Then Dad realized, “We are back where we started.” It turns out that the signs just brought us back to the cable cars. So this time we walked behind the station and didn’t look at the signs. We found the trail and got on our way.

Our first stop was this cool waterfall. It was ginormous and beautiful. We took many pictures with the family and Jim. Then we walked up staircases that felt like they went on forever. We got cool views of the city from the mountain. We stopped at a vending machine, got a water and continued our trek. We passed what they call the monkey bridge and made it to a little bathroom area. We were all huffing and puffing and this one lady coming down the mountain said, “Don’t worry it’s worth it when you get up there.” This gave us a spark of hope because we though we were getting close. We were wrong. We weren’t even halfway up the mountain!

Once we passed a lake, we took a “shortcut" to the midway station. By the way, the shortcut was just a huge, never ending, steep staircase in the middle of the forest. We then made it to the HALFWAY STATION. Our plan was to take it up to the main station, but we would have had to pay about 30 extra dollars to ride up. We walked up cursing Jacob’s name. Just kidding, we didn’t do that (sort of). We walked for what felt like hours. My phone said we walked 108 floors. Which is like climbing the Empire State Building. Once we finally got to the top we ate some golden leaf ice cream, which was actually good. We took the cable car down, thankfully, and had a blast looking at the views.

The Hi-Fives and Cool Dad Jim at the waterfall

We made our way to Ajw where Shogo, our friend, works. We had smoothies, coffee, and falafel. Ajw was a really cool and clean place in a really cool vintage part of town. After we had our falafel we went back to our room and rested up before we went out with Isseki, Maki, and Shogo for dinner. We met them at Bar Alchemy so we had time to tell Jacob what he did to us. We went to a place that only served chicken with side dishes. Isseki ordered so many types of chicken including raw chicken. We told them in America we do not eat raw chicken. They insisted that we eat it, but we all said no. Well, everyone but Jim. Jim was a daredevil - drinking his first beer in 6 months and he had a couple pieces of raw chicken.

We had a blast at the place with the Custard Core team. The food was great and we had great fun talking with them. When we left we all said our goodbyes and thanks. On our way home, we drank hot coffee from a vending machine. Yes, it was really hot. I drank the hot coffee between my legs for a Facebook live and Dad made a crazy Go Fund Me for $40,000 dollars and all donators will be put in a raffle to win a trip to Japan with us. Don’t know how when going to do that, but we can dream. Then after our Facebook live we went toe sleep to get ready for our flight the next day to come back home. Now I guess this is where we part ways. Thank you Jim and the Jersey Beat for letting us do this. It has been so much fun and it makes us feel like all our friends and fans could be a part of our tour too.

Thank you and we will see you guys Saturday the 21st at FM in Jersey City!

Thanks to our journalists, Eilee and Evren!


Joe, Gloree, Eilee, CoolDad Jim, and Evren

Evren's Journal, April 15
Continuing our journey in Osaka, we wanted to do some more exploring. We went to the Namba Station to try and catch a train to Kyoto and explore that area, but by the time we got to the information center at the station, we realized that we would not be able to fully explore Kyoto with the time we had left in the day. The woman at the information center told us about a couple of places that we could go to in Osaka. When she brought the anime part of town (Den Den Town,) Mom and Dad were really intrigued. The lady tried to warn us, saying it was "weird and different," but Mom and Dad thought that is why it was cool. The lady definitely tried to sugarcoat it. It was a very weird expierence with a lot of really weird stuff we don't really want to remember! Thanks Mom and Dad.

We ditched that area and decided to go to a much more family-friendly area. We took the subway for the first time by ourselves. Not trying to brag or anything, but I was a major reason why we made it there, along with Jim. We were very proud of ourselves as we now knew we were capable of navigating around the subway system ourselves. We went to the Floating Garden in downtown Osaka. It's a 40 story building with a really cool lookout at top. The view was amazing you could see almost everything in the city. The 70 million bridges they have, the Namba River, the downtown, and more. We got some great pictures and great views.

We got back to our little room and waited for an hour or two until we went out to eat with Haru and Maki. We had Korean BBQ that you cooked yourself. I cooked up some steak, okra, and corn. I'm kind of a master chef now. We had a lot of fun with them. We got back to our place and got to sleep early to get ready for a 6 hour drive to Tokyo the next day. We woke up and packed all of our stuff and got in order. The drive was very smooth. No traffic, but a little foggy. We hoped to see Mt. Fuji on the way, but we couldn't see it through the fog. We stopped at a couple rest stops and they were way better than the ones in America. They had some great food, the bathrooms were extremey clean and it was much more organized, spacious and welcoming.

When we pulled into Tokyo you could definitely tell the difference from American big cities. It was cleaner, organized, and just all in all very nice. We got to our new Airbnb and quickly left to do our soundcheck at the venue, THREE. We ate at a place called Rock&Roll, pretty fitting title. They had some good curry chicken, except that wasn't the dish I ordered. I got roast beef and rice. It was good, but it had some sort of sauce on it I did not like. The area was filled with cool vintage clothing shops and stores. There were very cool shoe stores with a lot of rare shoes, that were unfourtunatley expensive.

Later I ate two pieces of fried chicken from 7-11. It was really good, but the second one looked a little pink... we watched the 3 bands. The Hum Hums were great along with Tweezers. We had a great set and everyone we met was very nice and seemed to really enjoy our set. Mom, Dad, and Jim were invited to a Rock n Roll themed bar with Tweezers, so me and Eilee stayed home and went to sleep. When I woke up I felt a little sick in my stomach, I tried to ignore it and just laid there for a few minutes. Then I REALLY felt sick. I ran down to the bathroom and threw up in the toilet. Fun. I got back into bed and slept for a bit longer. When we were going to breakfeast, just as I left the door, I threw up again. I ended up staying home while everyone else ate breakfast. I had rice for my breakfeast when they got home. I threw that up as well. They went out to get pizza for lunch. I had rice, again. I slept for a while. Then they came back and later went out for Udan, a japenese traditional noodle soup. I had rice and fell asleep. A boring day for me and the rest of the family as they didn't want to do much without me. I didn't understand that. I was starting to feel better, but my day off in Tokyo was ruined by a raw piece of chicken.

Eilee's Journal, April 12
This week has been going by so fast! We've met so many nice people, been to so many cool places, and have eaten some crazy things! As I can recall, Evren left you off at the end of our third day on the trip. Now it's my turn to fill you guys in on our first two shows and a trip to the Osaka castle!

Saturday morning started off like most mornings, a Facebook live session and a trip to Starbucks (don't worry, we haven't gone to Starbucks since). Mom, Dad, and I woke up bright and early around 7:00 am. We got ready quietly to let Evren and Jim sleep and were out of the house by 7:45. The Starbucks was about 1 mile away so we started a Facebook live video knowing it was almost 8 at night in NJ. Mom had to take a call for work so Dad and I engaged with the people of the Internet as we walked through the city of Osaka. Since we were up so early we saw all of the restaurants getting ready for their day (cooking, cleaning, getting deliveries). When we made it to Starbucks, we ended the live feed and ordered everyone coffee and breakfast. With 5 coffees in hand and Dad dancing in Starbucks, we were officially ready to start our day. We made our way back to our Airbnb near Dontounbori Street. Across the street from where we were staying there was a mural on the side of the building with Psy so of course I had to stop and take a picture of him! When we got back to the Airbnb Jim was up and very glad there was a cup of coffee waiting for him. We woke Evren up and all ate our breakfast family style at our little table in the kitchen area. Since we were all still pretty jet lagged we relaxed for most of the day, since we had a show that day and we needed to have enough energy to rock out.

Breakfast! Eilee, Evren, Gloree, and CoolDad Jim

A few hours later we got dressed, packed Dad's cape, took our instruments and headed to the Nipponbashi subway station. On our way we stopped in Jams Music Store because Dad wanted to see if they had t-shirts. He wanted to give one away as a prize in our trivia. When we walked in the store the worker who was in the store with us the last time said, "Hi Papa" to Jim and we all laughed, even Jim. Sadly Jams didn't have a shirt and we couldn't stay and hang out because we had to meet Maki at the subway. We walked a few blocks and saw Maki on the corner at Family Mart. We walked down the stairs to the subway and all I can say is I'm really glad Maki was with us because the train routes were very confusing. We got our tickets and headed to the subway platform. Like most who live in NJ/NY we are used to Metro cards but here you buy a ticket and put it through the machine and walk through and your ticket comes out with a hole punched in it. On your way back, you put the ticket with the hole punched in it and the machine keeps it.

Continuing with our journey, we got on the train and had to switch trains three times since we were going to a specific part of Kyoto. In total traveling there took about one hour, but it didn't feel long at all. When we arrived In Kyoto it was drizzling so we made sure to get to the venue, Nega Posi, as fast as we could. The venue was on a side street off a main road down the street from the subway. When we got there the owner of the club was on his way so we hung out outside and took some pictures to document our arrival to our first show in Japan!!! The owner of the club came a few minutes later at about 3:00 pm and let us in. The club was really cool. There was a stage in the back of the room, a bar in the front of the room and a bunch tables with stools, couches, and benches. We started setting up our equipment while Maki set up the merch, Jim set up his cameras and the owner started setting up the bar/kitchen and the sound board.


We did our sound check and then went outside to explore Kyoto. We went to Daiso because Maki needed ear plugs and while we were there we bought a few snacks. As we continued walking we saw a store called Bread's Plus and the food inside looked really good, and they had coffee, so we decided to head inside. In Japanese bakeries you take a tray and tongs and put the food you want on the tray. You bring it to the counter and they make your coffee and heat the food we picked out. We chose a seat and waited for our food. I got a matcha crossaint and coffee. It was really good! We all tried a little but of each other's food and everything was really tasty. After we finished it was about 6:00 pm and doors opened at 6:30 so we walked back to the venue and met some of the members of the bands we were playing with.

Ex Kills

The show started at 7:00 pm and many of Maki's friends we met came to the show which was very exciting. Gem, Agya, and Masseki were all there. We went on last that night and all the bands that played were super talented. The name of the first band we played with was all in Japanese, I think it translated to Kima Curry's to Chichewa Cinema. They had lots of energy and were very fun to watch on stage. The next band was called Fight Club. They were crazy!!! The guitar player picked up a cement cinder block and tried to put it on his head and then he ripped his sweaty shirt off and gave it to Dad (which he kept). The next band was N16, they were really good they sounded a little bit like Hinds in some songs. They were very tight and I really liked their sound. We went on last and played for about 30-40 minutes. The cool thing about shows in Japan is that they start at 7, everyone has a sound check and sets are about 30 minutes long. It's perfect because four bands get to play and you're not out until 1 in the morning. The show was a lot of fun. We stayed and talked to everyone for a while and then we went back to the subway station and headed back to Osaka. This time we only had to switch trains once. When we made it to Nipponbashi and said goodnight to Maki. We stopped in 7-11 and got some late night snacks since it was about 11:30 at night. We went back to our place ate our food and hit the hay because we were all super tired.

Japanese pizza? Evren does not look impressed

The next day we woke up a little later and today it took us a little longer to get up since we were recovering from our show. Sunday we decided to go to 7-11 (or 7& i Holdings) because Maki said their coffee was really good, and it was. The coffee is freshly ground just for your cup of coffee. The only complaint about the coffee in Japan is that a large cup of coffee is like a small from Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. The good thing about convenience stores in Japan is that all of the food is fresh and expired within days. All of the breakfasts we had were really good because the baked goods are fresh. This day we had a show in Osaka so we had to leave to go to the train station by 2:45 pm. The show was at Noon+Cafe and it was in a different section of Osaka than where we were staying. We took the subway again and walked a few blocks to the venue. It was in a really cool area with a lot of thrift shops and restaurants. We did our soundcheck and met the other bands we were playing with. The venue was really nice there was a cafe outside where we had lunch and coffees before the show, a good size stage, lots of standing room, and a cool area for the bands upstairs.

Joe, Eilee, and the Piggies!

After our soundcheck we went outside and went in a few thrift shops and walked around the area to see more of Osaka. Again doors opened at 6:30 so we went back to Noon+cafe and were excited to see so many people. We traded merch with the Piggies who were so nice and super awesome!!! We signed a few CDs and then went inside to the venue because the show was starting. The Ex-Kills were on first and they were really awesome. It was their second show and they all had matching shirts and it was a mix of guys and girls in the band. They played covers and original music and they sounded great. After their set, we went and talked to them and they were super sweet. I didn't bring my tambourine on tour and they gave me theirs as a gift to keep. It was so nice of them.

We met Shogo who designed our t-shirt (he was also in the Ex-Kill) and he had some of his art with him so we bought some cool pins and bottle openers he made. He also gave Dad a hat with one of his popular designs on it (the face he used on Evren on our Japan t-shirt). Next up was Maki's band Foodie. The band is a three piece and their music was a lot of fun. The crowd was super into it. After the set we met Isseki, Maki's partner in Custard Core. He was really nice and we talked about a lot of music with him. Piggies were up next and they rocked!!! I really liked their music. The drummer and bass player were girls and the guitar player was a guy. They were wearing our shirt during their show which was super cool. After their set we got ready for our set and we got to pull a rockstar move because the sound guy said to wait ten minutes so we got to leave the stage and go upstairs to where the bands could hang out. The show rocked and everyone was super into it!!! They knew the lyrics to the songs and were jumping and dancing. It was such an awesome experience. After the show we took pictures with all the bands because they were all super nice and awesome and we wanted to remember how much fun we had with them. We signed some more CDs and took pictures with more people who were at our show and it was so awesome.

We took the subway back to our place and Maki and her husband went to their place. On our way back we stopped at 7-11 (again!) and got coffees, rice, chicken, corn dogs, and anything else we could find. As we were walking to our Airbnb we passed a takoyaki stand which is a little piece of squid with a lot of fried dough around it, mayonnaise, ponsu sauce and dried fish flakes are put on top. It was really good and really fun to try something different that is popular in Osaka. You're supposed to eat a whole ball in your mouth and blow out the hot air because you have to eat it hot, however, I couldn't fit it in my mouth so I split it in half. Dad ordered noodles but they put all of the toppings on it which he didn't like. When we got back to the Airbnb we finished our food because you can't walk and eat in Japan and then we went to sleep.

On Monday we woke up pretty early because we wanted to go get a real breakfast and go to the Osaka Castle. On Dountonbori street we found a breakfast place that had pancakes, coffee, and French toast which sounded great. The breakfast place was elevated and overlooked the river which was a beautiful sight to see in the morning. We went back to our Airbnb to freshen up and get ready for the long day ahead of us. We started our treck to the Osaka Castle which is about 3 miles away on foot. It was very interesting because we would be walking through a big city and then little side streets with lots of food stands, and then it looked a little like Miami. We got to the park and then walked to the entrance where we would see a moat and some smaller buildings inside. We walked through a garden of cherry blossoms which were beautiful and then we lost Dad because he was doing a Facebook live and kept walking towards the castle. We found him near the gates to the castle and we all went inside together.

The Castle was beautiful. There were so many beautiful trees surrounding the Castle and many tourists. We bought tickets to go inside the castle where there were exhibits on each floor that explained the history of the castle. We're learning on tour!!! Eight floors later and we were at the top of the castle where you could go outside and look at the city of Osaka from the top of the Castle. It was very beautiful and a great place to visit if you are in Osaka. When we got down from the castle we started waking back towards our Airbnb which meant about another 3 miles. We were looking for a place to eat for so long and found a Mexican restaurant called El Pancho. We were so hungry and couldn't figure out what else to eat, so we headed up 8 stories and found the restaurant. It was very cool because it was decorated really authentically and it was 8 floors up in a building with multiple businesses. We had a great meal consisting of tacos, avocado salad, chips, refried beans, and fajitas.

The building was near a big shopping mall that was on the river so we walked through it on our way to a store called Excube where our new friend from the Ex-Kills worked. We stopped in a few stores and then walked along the river for a mile until we got to Excube. It was in a really cool area with lots of art exhibits. The store Excube was an art exhibit mixed with a vintage clothing store. Evren and I bought one of the artist's shirts which was a collage of skating pictures. The store was really cool and the people were super nice!!! We had a really great day and to top it off we stopped at a coffee shop on our way home. In total we walked about 11 miles and while we were beat, we had the best time!!!!


Evren, Sunday April 8
We left for JFK at 10:15pm on Tuesday. And of course when you're traveling someone always forgets something, this time Dad forgot his coat. So I guess we really left at 10:30. When we pulled up to the airport we took the monorail to the terminal. We got to the check-in there were probably 100 people in front of us. Even though this seems bad we actually got there at a good time. The people that came in behind us probably had to wait there for 2 hours.

I realized that this was going to be a huge flight when I saw how big the line was . We got to the counter and we got our boarding passes. There was a huge slip-up because we had it so we would sit together on our flights to China and also Japan, but our tickets on the Japan flight had only 2 of us sitting together. We tried to get this fixed, but they told us it was the best they could do. It wasn't too big of a problem but it still sucked.

Now on to security. We get in line and almost everyone in front of us seemed to be Chinese. The lines were so hectic and almost no one in our lines understood what do do. The security guard was just yelling at everyone and it was a headache. I haven't been in an airport in 6 years so of course I was not very used to all of this. We finally got to our gate and it was time to wait, two hours before we were ready to board a 13 hour flight. The most I've ever flown is 4 hours and I was wondering how I would survive a 13 hour flight.

We boarded the plane, got settled quickly, taxied around, and all of a sudden we were in the air. They provided all of us with a tiny pillow and blanket. That pillow made all the difference on the entire flight! It was extremely comfortable. The only reason I actually slept is because of that pillow. When I woke up we were literally on top of the world, as our flight map showed us flying right over the North Pole. We still had 5 hours until landing. So basically the rest of the flight we were flying over Russia. I watched 2 movies on the plane. I only finshed half of the movie Tammy. WARNING! Do not watch that movie, its actually awful. Sorry if anyone likes that movie, but I had to shut it off. I played some NBA on my phone and next thing I knew, we were in Beijing.

JFK was a very nice airport. It was clean and and very organized, but it did not even compare to the Beijing airport. This airport was absoultely ginormous, very clean and beautiful. We were able to find coffee, which is all that really mattered. We fueled up while sitting next to a Chinese "Temple" with coy fish. Dad taught the woman who was checking him at security how to say "hat", and we were off to JAPAN. This flight was WAY shorter, less than 3 hours total. We even got breakfeast on the flight! I enjoyed it for airplane food. It was fried eggs, sausage, hashbrowns, and fruit. Dad ended up getting a seat next to the three of us as we explained our seat mix-up situation to the flight attendant. The women sitting next to mom was flying solo and was able to get a better seat, so it was really a win-win. As we started to land, the plane got under the clouds and we could see Japan. We were fasciated. Little dots of cherry blossoms on mountains were so pretty and soon we were overlooking the huge city of Osaka.

When we landed, we knew we were in Japan. 1,000 people were lined up for customs. The biggest line I've seen in my life. When we got through customs we exchanged some of our money for yen. The coins are pretty cool. I was given 180 yen. Since it was so hot in the aiport, I made my first transaction in yen to buy a water bottle for the four of us. We made it to the third floor of the airport and got some Japanese food. I got a Japanese sirloin steak, Dad and Mom got curry dishes, and Eilee got shrimp and noodles.

As we were getting ready to leave the airport we got a text from CoolDad (oh yeah, CoolDad came on our adventure to prove that we were really here!) saying that he was in the airport and through customs. As we got down the escalator I was wondering how we would find Jim in this sea of people. But just as we were coming down the escalator, we spotted CoolDad. We got on a bus and made our way to our Airbnb. We had trouble finding our building, but we were able to find a local and asked her for help. We took the elevator up to the fourth floor and found our place. The door is solid metal and only maybe 6 feet tall. It was like going into a room in a submarine. We opened the door and the place is tiny! There are multiple lights that are hanging from the ceiling that are so low. It's tight, but it has 3 beds and that is what we really need.

Photo by James Appio

Pretty much as soon as we got in the day, half of Custard Core came. Custard Core is the name of a Osaka-based record label that found our music and brought us over here to Japan. The label is made of two people, Maki and Iseki. Maki came to apartment early in the day. We gave her custom New York Knicks Custard Core jerseys as a gift for hosting us in Japan.

CoolDad really wanted to go to a baseball game in Osaka, so we went to the Kyocera Dome to watch the Orix Buffaloes. The baseball game was wild and each team had a huge fanbase. The stadium was packed with crazy fans yelling and screaming. We stayed until the seventh inning stretch because we were all so tired from a whole day of traveling. At the seventh inning stretch many people in the stadium released balloons that traveled across the entire stadium. It was a sight to see. We took two separate cabs home as no cabs take 5 people in Japan. Maki and Iseki came to the Airbnb at about 11:30, but unfortunely both Eilee and I were asleep.

We woke up on Friday morning and trekked to Starbucks to get some coffee. The Starbucks was right on the very popular Namba River Walk so we got to see one of the most popular parts of town and some cool sights. When we got home it started to rain so we were locked inside for an hour or two. Maki asked us to join her and her friends for dinner. We met them at the Nipponbashi Station. It was the five of us plus Maki, Jimmy, Agyh, Haruro, and Masaki. We went to the Namba Walk and got some Japanes pancakes, or as they call them Okonomiyaki. Jim (CoolDad), Mom and I had trouble trying to get more time to order. It was a struggle with the language difference, but Maki helped us out. I ordered pork and noodles. Mom got bacon and cheese. Jim got pork, kimchi, mayonnaise, and dry fish skin. He went all in! I don't know what the rest of the crew got because there wasn't enough room for all of us to sit together. After we ate, we went to Spo-cha arcade to take picture at the photo booth. There we met Gem who drew the picture of us that brought us to Japan. We played some games at the arcade. There were a lot of dance games and DJ games that the people at the arcade were amazing at. They would never miss a combo or anything. Eilee and I played Mom and Dad in air hockey. We tied 3 games before they won. The game didn't count a goal Eilee scored and we lost. Also, in an earlier game there were 10 seconds on the clock and I told Eilee to drain the clock, but Dad said that was cheating and we had to shoot. They scored and we tied (we should've won!).

We walked back to our Airbnb and said bye to all the new friends we met. We were finally in Japan!


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