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!)
PART FOUR, BY EILEE CENTENO
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
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
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
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
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
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
PART FIVE BY EVREN CENTENO
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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