Bob Dylan Tour Japan Spring 2014.


Japan tour.
3/31/14

Tokyo, Japan - Zepp DiverCity
4/1/14

Tokyo, Japan - Zepp DiverCity
4/3/14

Tokyo, Japan - Zepp DiverCity
4/4/14

Tokyo, Japan - Zepp DiverCity
4/5/14

Tokyo, Japan - Zepp DiverCity
4/7/14

Tokyo, Japan - Zepp DiverCity
4/8/14

Tokyo, Japan - Zepp DiverCity
4/9/14

Tokyo, Japan - Zepp DiverCity
4/10/14

Tokyo, Japan - Zepp DiverCity
4/13/14

Sapporo, Japan - Zepp Sapporo
4/14/14

Sapporo, Japan - Zepp Sapporo
4/17/14

Nagoya, Japan - Zepp Nagoya
4/18/14

Nagoya, Japan - Zepp Nagoya
4/19/14

Fukouka, Japan - Zepp Fukuoka
4/21/14

Osaka, Japan - Zepp Namba
4/22/14

Osaka, Japan - Zepp Namba
4/23/14

Osaka, Japan - Zepp Namba

April 1st.

In Charles De Gaulle Airport now waiting for my flight to Tokyo, Japan.
I didn’t sleep well last night, in fact I didn’t sleep well for a week now.
I worry about the trip. I also have a mission ; filming my travel and experience in Japan, as much as possible the ‘atmosphere’ of the country and the Dylan crowd.
I’m sorry that I missed the 2 first shows but the plane ticket was less expensive at this date. Sorry Bobby!
I chat on FB as much as possible to find some contacts in Tokyo and Japan in general.
Some Fans promised to meet at the Zepp.
As my budget is limited I decided to use the system of Couch Surfing for any accommodation.
I found a nice host in Tokyo, CS. He’s from New Delhi India but lives and works in Tokyo.
In Sapporo I didn’t have any positive answer so I booked a bed in a Youth Hostel.
In Nagoya I received two positive answers, one from a Japanese and one from an American Lady. I will have to make a choice.
In Fukuoka, a nice Japanese Lady answered me positively.
In Osaka I found a private room (a Futon on a floor) for only 6$ a night).
It sounds good for the accommodations all the way.

I’m planning to visit Tokyo. Tokyo (the largest agglomeration in the world with a total population of 32 millions persons) is divided in many different areas each one with a specific atmosphere.
If I feel well I will choose one area a day to go to in the morning, by metro and by foot.
The public transportation in Tokyo is excellent, metro, train, buses are efficient , clean and quiet.
I will do some filming.
Also filming the BD crowd at the venues and if it’s possible try to film the crew or even ultimate dream the Band. Though I don’t not how much they’re allowed to be on film or express anything about their work.
I will meet again Jules and Jason and of course Barron will be there ; the incorruptible guard, the ‘last of the Samurai’.
As for the shows…I didn’t buy any tickets in advance, as usual.
The Set list seems to be the same as the European Tour. I don’t feel like paying big money for the same show, over and over again.
I decided not to spend any dime on a ticket, at least until Osaka. Maybe I’ll make an effort for the last show.
My sign is ready “I need a FREE ticket, please”.
We’ll see.

Japan Yen is the currency. 1 euro equal 140Y. I will count 1 euro = 150Y, to make it more simple.
The language might be a problem. I don’t even read any Japanese.
I will make an effort to learn some words :
Kudasai = please
Arigato = thank you
Konishiwa = hello
No kissing and hugging in public. Many bows.

I heard D. might be doing the Japan Tour. We’re not supposed to talk to each other anymore.
As much as possible I will focus on the Bob Dylan Tour and on the logistics.

2nd of April TOKYO

I left home at 9:45 a.m. heading for the train station.
The train is on time at 10:43 a.m. rolling towards C.D.G. strait.
Arriving at 1:11 p.m. I wait until 6 p.m. to check in my luggage, then wait until 9 p.m. to board the plane. 9:30 p.m. we finally take off.
The company is ANA (Nippon Airline).
The flight will be 12 hours strait. The changing time will be plus seven hours.
The flight is smooth, absolutely no problem.
We touch the Japanese ground at 3:42 p.m. (Japanese time). I had watched no less than 3 movies on my personal plane T.V.

The passport control is easy (a lot easier than the American one).
I retrieve my luggage.
It took me half an hour to be WELCOME to Japan. Efficient and polite staff.

CS gave me the instruction to take the Monorail. I found it easily but I got lost among  the buildings looking all the same with no obvious number.
Though the neighbors don’t speak English we understand each other, I need number 8.
Patrick(who is CS roommate) is in the apartment. He welcomes me. He speaks a perfect English for he had lived in Santa Cruz part of his life.
I arrange my couch with sheets and blankets. I will be comfortable for 10 days and nights.
I feel home.
We chat with Patrick since CJ is out at a party.
I sleep well but shortly.

The 3rd of April Tokyo.

7:00 a.m. CJ is up to be ready for work.
Patrick has a day off and accept to take me to the Metro Station to show me how it works.
He gives me a MetroCard to be refilled with money, to be used in any transportations in Tokyo.
I’m on my way to Tokyo City.
I’ve chosen Hakihabara , the Manga quarter.
Alright it’s raining but that will not stop me.
I walk among the Manga Folly, I film and take some photos. I got lost I find a quite and splendid Temple square (Shito or Buddhist).I spend one hour in Peace, away from the crowd and agitation. I can hear the birds singing.
Around 2 p.m. the streets start filling up and it’s no fun anymore, so I move back home.
I eat some noodles and rest for a while.
It’s now time to reach the Zepp and to see Bob for the first time this year and in Japan.
A metro takes me there, it takes only half an hour.
At the station Masato(a Fan) is waiting for me and we walk side by side to the Zepp.
The venue is located inside a commercial center. A small ‘box’ of 2000/3000.
This is General Admission but it has nothing to do with what I’ve seen else where around the world.
No need to queue here, your position in the line is defined by the number on your ticket.
The hundreds will be called first with the use of a loud speaker. The two hundreds, then the three hundreds…until everyone is placed in order and peace inside the venue. All standing up.

I have my sign out and I have no idea how the Japanese will react to a beggar.
One hour later a nice man from Switzerland hands me an extra ticket he can’t sale.
I’m in. We chat and we take position in the far back. The stage is almost invisible but I’m in and happy.
Stu will strum his guitar and Bob appears ; dressed in cream new suit, long vest, striped pants in black on cream, cream color hat.
He will be a lot more on center stage than in Europe.
“Scarlet town” will be done center stage. Bob doesn’t really know what to do with himself when the Band plays solo.
“Love sick” talks to me at this period of my life. [Finally D. will not do the Japan Tour. I’m at the same time sad and relief.]
“Beyond here lies nothing”. This will stay my favorite of the Rock songs for that set list.
“spirit on the water” and “Soon after midnight” my favorites of the soft songs.
“Pay in blood” is lovely done.
“What good am I” Alright so far but will disappear later from that set list.
The second part is average. The public will react to “All along the watch tower”.
That Japanese audience is reserved and polite (maybe less in front). People will hardly move out during the intermission, afraid to lose their spot(?).

I was happy to be in but not over thrilled.
Nothing that will move me deep inside.

The 4th of April Tokyo.

Today I will visit the Imperial Palace.
April in Japan is a special season. This is the Cherry trees blossom.
At this period the garden of the Imperial Palace is open to the tourists, so they can appreciate the beauty of the trees in bloom.
I join a line of thousands tourists, mostly Japanese. That will take more than one hour to pass the security control and walk inside. The Palace is not visible just the tees.
The weather is warm and dry. I spend a nice afternoon despite the fact that I get lost getting out the garden and walk more than one hour to reach the metro.

In the late afternoon I go to the venue.
I find the same Bobcats, some with tickets, some looking for tickets. I need a free one.
I’ll get one. I’m in.
The show is good with a new song I don’t recognize.
“Huck’s Tune”. Played for the first time on stage.

After the show I go strait back home. No Pub, no Party.
The Bobcats from Europe are not friendly with me.
I’m not sure what I did or didn’t do, I just not feel part of it!

The 5th of April Tokyo.

This is Sunday, a day off for the hard working Japanese.
The day of The Picnic.
The blooming of the cherry trees is well celebrated all around Japan at different dates.
But I’m lucky for here, in Tokyo, this is today.
Thousands of Tokyo people will assemble in the Parks for a gigantic Picnic with family and friends.
CJ invites me to join his friends in the afternoon.
We all bring food and drinks and this is a wonderful afternoon in a mild climate.
I enjoy myself so much that I forgot Bob Dylan added a show precisely on the 5th.
I will miss the concert and …don’t even regret it.
Patrick(in blue) and friends.

The 6th of April Tokyo.

Today is truly a day off.
I will visit Yanaka quarter. The only area in Tokyo that had not be bombed during the war.
The streets and houses are the old Japanese style. Narrow and in wood.
It’s nice to take a walk and imagine the ancient Japanese life style.
I buy myself a cheap Bento box (a lunch box with rice, fish, vegetables).
I treat myself with a little gift, a Maneki Neko, the good luck cat.
In the evening I had planed to go to Tokyo Bob Café. Tokyo Bob is a super fan, playing Bob Dylan songs in a special Café. Unfortunately today the café is closed.
So, the Party that was supposed to take place with the Bobcats will not happen.
I’m disappointed.

The 7th of April Tokyo.

Today the visit is Asakusa : the river, the tourist chopping area, the Temple.
I take tones of photos and do also some filming.
Same routine in the evening.
Same show. A lot of the same Fans. And same solitude after the show.
I feel isolated. It was a time, in the past, I didn’t mind but now seeing the same faces I’ve seen in Europe and the U.S.A. not even talking to me makes me feel ostracized.
I go back home, download my photos and films and go to sleep. In Tokyo I had no difficulty falling asleep. CJ and Patrick were truly my friends (a lot more than the Bobcats).

 

The 8th April in Tokyo.


What happened on the 8th of April? First I explain the organization of
General Admission in Japan. The capacity is 2000 with some seats on a far
away balcony. The floor section is divided in three sections A, B, C.
A section being the closest from the stage. The ticket one buys will be
for example A567. Of course the first ticket should be A001. At 5:45 PM,
an usher with a loud speaker will call the section and numbers by 10 : A10,
A20, ... A610. Then B10...then C40... The line will then be formed section
by section, no need to be in the line at 9:00 am. Then again before the
security control (no camera allowed) a usher will call the ticket number by
number, no cheating. No rush except for the last few meters (the Japanese
are human after all). On that evening of the 8th of April. I find myself
at my usual spot ; right in front of the piano on the rail. For the first
time in Tokyo I can see the stage. The piano is closer to the first row than
before (no more keyboard). There is only one mirror, right in front George's
drums. Still wonder why. On my left a young Japanese fellow. Young Fans
are on the rail. On my right a Fan from California. 7:10 pm Stu takes the
stage with his acoustic guitar : the Stu noodle(some call it). Then one by
one the Band ; Tony, George, Charlie, Donnie...and Bob takes the center
stage for "Things have changed" followed by "She belongs to me". Bobby
is so close. Nice cream color suit, white shirt, black and white boots (but
not the cowboy ones), cream color hat. His face is white, even pale but
smooth (well shave, no more mustache). His hair is dark (probably dyed).
At times he is looking straight at me but...this is the feelings all the Fans
will have in front. He moves to the piano for "Beyond here lies nothing",
one of my favorite songs. In the middle of the song we can hear a loud
noise, for my opinion coming from Charlie's guitar but who knows? Tony
puts his hands on in ears and they disconnect the guitars and stop the
song...shit! Bob doesn't panic and start a little tune on the piano joined by
Donnie on banjo (I believe). Some five minutes before the technicians
come to Bob (to explain it will take a while to find the problem?) and Bob
leaves the stage with the Band. Some minutes later Stu crosses the stage
to pick up an acoustic guitar. We believe he will do a little song! but no,
he comes back to put the guitar on his support. Alright! Stu will come back
on stage, and we hear Stu! Stu! here and there. He's clowning around;
trying the drums then Bob's piano, disappearing again. Charlie will pass by
also. I hear; Charlie! Charlie! He crosses the stage and disappear on the left.
Then...Bob comes on my right accompanied by George. They move to
that white guitar lying right in front George drums. They seam to be in a
heavy discussion about that guitar and both disappear on the left on the
stage. Woa! kind of funny! The only one who is not clowning is Tony. He
seems seriously concerned! We don't see Donnie. Bob's crew and
Japanese technicians are working hard to find the problem. Four of them
crawled underneath the piano, paradoxically a Yamaha! They change some
cables and Jules ask Jason to adjust the volume of the mikes (the center
mic and the piano mic). Some 25 minutes later they take the stage again.
I hope Bob will start again "Beyond here lies nothing". He moves to the
piano, flipped some pages and trots to center stage. He will do "Huck's
tune". As an apology? to please the public? (it is my feelings). He will then
go on with the regular set list. Before the intermission he mentions the
incident and says "Arigato" (thank you in Japanese). The public is thrilled.
The intermission will be shorter than usual. He will move on with the songs
on that static set list. But truly I don't mind for I am right in front the
piano and I enjoy every single minute of the performance. Bobby doesn't
smile (not even with Donnie). He looks more like a Buddha, sage and
resolute : "Nothing in front and nothing behind". One of those shows I
will remember! Thanks Bobby for those memorable moments in my life!

 9th, 10th April in Tokyo.

For the last 2days in Tokyo I will visit the UENO Park, visit the Art Museum, go back to Akihabara for Fun, take the metro all around the Bay … enjoy my stay.
The shows start to be a routine. I will miss one show as it will be impossible to find a ticket. I find myself outside with Che (who didn’t get a ticket neither). So far I considered Che as a friend but the conversation is limited. I don’t feel comfortable.

Conclusion :
I enjoy myself in Tokyo more as a Tourist than a Bob Dylan Fan.
The morning and early afternoon are enjoyable, the evening full of tension and stress for I never know if I could get in the venue.
The Japanese Fans are discreet and not ‘partying’ (not even Masato who says he has to go back home early to go to work in the morning).
The European Fans are ‘ignoring’ me for some reasons.
The shows are routinely the same.
As I’m never in front, on the rail, I don’t appreciate the ‘intimacy’ of a front row.
Bobby is just Bob Dylan and the Band.

I want to thanks CJ and Patrick who were and still are my dear Friends.
They made my stay in Tokyo so enjoyable and Fun.

I feel sad when I pack up my bags. I know what I leave behind I don’t know what I will find next.

As a way of transportation in Japan the train is the best. The Bullet Train called Shinkansen is extremely fast and comfortable.
For the Tourists the best is to buy a Pass for a week, two weeks or more.
I bought a two weeks pass just enough for the travel to Sapporo, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Osaka and back to Tokyo.

So, next stop Sapporo, up to Hokkaido Island.

The 13th of April Sapporo.

The first train is a Shinkansen but the two last just regular slow trains.
It takes a while to reach Sapporo.
Following the sea coast is wonderful. I still have the images in my mind ; the blue/green sea, the little fishermen houses, the fishermen boats, the deep blue sky…the sea gulls crying.
I wish the train will never stop. I wish I could move forever. I feel Peace. But Peace is temporary.
As soon as the train stops I have to find my way out to the Youth Hostel.
I got lost but two young Japanese (who look more like Mafia boys than Hippies) help me with the kindest attitude. They call the youth Hostel and bring my luggage and I all the way to the door.
I learned not to judge according to the look.
“Sometimes Satan comes as a Man of Peace”.
 And the Angels don’t wear wings (or long hair).

The Hostel is comfortable. I have a Futon on the floor.
Of course as everywhere in Japan you quit your shoes in the entrance. I find it an excellent idea since you never know where you put your shoes in outside.
The communal kitchen is huge and spot less.
I take a walk in the city. The wind is blowing cold, there is snow pilling up on the side of the side walks. Sapporo is a ski resort in the winter but this is spring. The streets are empty. I’m the only one running the Big Wheel. I will treat myself in a Restaurant which is pretty rare considering my low budget.

The Zepp Sapporo is 30 minutes walk from the Hostel.
I go there in the early afternoon but nothing is happening. A trailer is parked on the parking lot by the back stage door. I believe this is Bobby’s dressing room.

The two shows there will be without surprise.
Good but nothing thrilling.
Sapporo is too cold for me.
I was happy to be there and happy to move away.

 

The 15th of April Nagoya.

The Shinkansen takes me to Nagoya through Tokyo.
I have decided to choose the American Couch surfing Host in Nagoya.
She’s waiting for me at the train station with her boyfriend. He’s originally from Brazil but he has been living in Nagoya for a while now.
We take a walk to a Park then to a Temple (Shinto or Buddhist).
I have my own room but I don’t feel extremely comfortable with a couple. I feel like intruding into privacy. It’s obvious that the Lady is the dominator and the man submissive. He’s sweet, she’s harsh.
We have dinner in a ..kebab. Not to my test but as a guest I have to be easy going and I learned to be.
Nagoya is famous for his Castle. I spend a whole day walking around and inside this splendor.
I treat myself with an ice cream. I feel in Peace.

I take the subway to the Zepp twice.
I find two free tickets and have a nice time.
Some Bobcats are still following but the one I want to see is not around.
I feel like an emptiness, no sorrow though.
There is something strange in all the Zepp. As the Fans get in with their ticket they have to buy a token for 5 $. That token gives right for a drink at the bar, a beer or a soda.
This is compulsory.
So even if I have a free ticket I spend 5$ each night for a drink I don’t need!.
Weird!

The 19th of April Fukuoka.

Another Shinkansen to Fukuoka. Another Bento Box. It’s a lunch box one can buy at any train station. They can be cheap or expensive but it’s some kind of ‘tradition’ and I nicely obliged.
Though some Fans are going the same way we don’t travel together. There is no Bob Dylan Fans Family. This is an illusion. We are just individuals and most of the time we have nothing in common. I’m on a low budget. I do believe money makes a big difference among people. It’s better to be Rich, Healthy, Young and Sexy as to be ….just a good human being.
The Dylan Fans are not different.
So I reach Fukuoka and find my way to my youth Hostel.
This is not the best one I ever been in but the atmosphere is friendly.
I take the bus to the Zepp. Same kind of venue : an immense ‘garage’.

Things start to be complicated when 5 or 6 Fans are also looking for tickets outside.
This show is sold Out. Even the Press people didn’t get tickets.
The atmosphere is electric. I’m extremely nervous. There is no way to get in so I move back to the Hostel.
I’m disappointed for Fukuoka was not easy to reach and I will stay only one day.

From the  20th to the 24th of April Osaka.

The 3 shows in Osaka should bring more happiness. I’ve decided to buy a ticket for the last one of the three shows.

I have a private room in a ‘funky’ hotel. Homeless Japanese outsiders are staying here.
Yes, there is homeless, poor, wretched, unstable people in Japan.
To my surprise I am in an area not so clean and not so quiet.
Some tenants are even loud and angry.
My room is just big enough for the futon on the floor but if I close the door it is MY room.

I take a walk to the commercial area and to the Park. I buy instant Ramen noodles (just adding hot water for a bowl of soup).

I walk to the venue, another Zepp, another ‘garage’.
I discreetly beg for a ticket, away from the Bobcats (I don’t talk to any of them anymore).
I will have good luck the first day. Someone is living the show before the end and I rushed in when Bob is already on stage, but I’m in.

One day I take the train to Kyoto.
I walk all day from one temple to another. Kyoto is a great city, full of Temples.
I find my Peace of mind. I’m not a believer in a particular God, I don’t follow some particular rituals but one can feel Peace and Harmony inside a Cathedral , a Church, a Temple, a Mosque, a Synagogue.
A monk is singing prayers. It sounds harmonious.

The second show at the Zepp. There is no way to get in. I retrieve to my room with my bowl of Ramen noodles.

The third show. I will buy a ticket. This is the last show in Japan.
Mickey (a Japanese follower I’ve seen in Europe) will sell me a good ticket.
She takes me all the way to the front of the stage (she is one of the few Japanese Fans who will shit on the line).
At last the front.
I enjoy myself. That will be my best show even if there is nothing special about the set list or the sound.
The quality of a show is always subjective.





THE END.

I train to Tokyo. I will spend one more night at CJ’s house before flying back to Paris.

I’m glad I made it to Japan.
This is a country with a special culture.
I was surprised by Tokyo. For me this is the best of all the big cities I visited, more organized and quiet than Paris, New York, L.A., Sao Paulo, Mexico city.
Tokyo succeeded in the harmony of the ancient and the modern, the slow and the fast, the flashy and the sober, the productive and the spiritual.
As for working in Japan, no thanks. The metro is full of ‘burned out’ workers.
They’re dedicated to their firm, submitted to their Boss.
They’re hermetic to the outsiders.

As for the shows…
I zepped from one Zepp to another Zepp.
The shows were all of good quality.
The sound excellent (except one show in Tokyo where they had a technical problem).

Bob was doing is best and was ‘professional’ as was the Band.

I had a great time when ever I was front.
I was just feeling part of the crowd other way.

But thank you Bobby for being with us.


















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