I always think of “my” particular Tokyo as a place where life is ordered and predictable, clean and sweet. However, sometimes something comes along that reminds me that “my” Tokyo is different from another expat’s Tokyo or especially a Japanese person’s Tokyo – in a wholly great way.
One thing I’ve also learned about Tokyo is that there are segments to it and sometimes they don’t seem to meet up, but then they clash in the most interesting ways, and this night was one of those times.
We invited to go with friends to hear a Cuban band in a small bar in Nishi Azabu, about a fifteen minute walk from our home. Not one to turn down a night of fun, even on a Sunday, my husband and I decided to go. In a place like Tokyo, you just never know what you’re going to find.
In this case, the opening band – or artists, really – were the real find of the night. There we were, sitting at the bar in a place that was smaller than my kitchen, with lowered lights and a prominent, twirling disco ball above us, when out comes a guy in a multi-colored, African-looking hat. He proceeds to sit down at the head of what seems to be a long, dark wooden tube in the middle of the room. This man, it turns out, is a one-man band – a one-man extravaganza, really. The tube was actually an Australian instrument called a didjeridu. The man put his mouth on it, and with a complex series of mouth movements, sucking and blowing, coaxed out of it a long, sonorous tone that varied in depth and length. He played that for a moment, then used his hands for a wooden xylophone. One foot had bells attached to it, while the other foot tapped a piece that hit a drum for added rhythm. The sounds and beats that emanated from this man were nothing short of astounding. A few moments later he allowed a bongo-player to sit next to him and play, but other than that, this guy was his own show.
The combination of the distinctly Japanese bar, the African Music and the swirling disco ball of atmosphere made everyone wonder if they had just gone through a break in the space-time continuum. I felt like my particular Tokyo was turning on its ear for a few moments and I would enjoy the new world until it righted itself once again. Here’s one clip of the evening – enjoy!
My very favorite part of being in Tokyo is that I never know exactly what I’m going to find here.