Hiroshima to Haneda to Home

ImageLeaving Japan is always tough. It’s such a welcoming country and culture that you really don’t ever want to leave, and for a while I wasn’t sure I was ever actually going to make it home. The flight from Hiroshima to Narita (Tokyo) was canceled, so they had to put me on a different airline to Tokyo’s other airport, Haneda, from where a taxi driver they had contacted would be waiting to take me across Tokyo, in rush hour, to supposedly make my flight back home. How this one cab driver at a big airport in a big city was somehow going to be right outside the one exit door I happen to walk out of and recognize me was never discussed. But I wasn’t too concerned because, hey, if I didn’t make my flight they would have to put me up in a Tokyo hotel and I could visit Atsushi, Chihana, Masaki, The Poor Cow, and all my great Tokyo friends! Party at the Narita Hilton! But alas, my cab driver was right outside that random door, knew the score, and was much too savvy for mere Tokyo rush hour traffic. Like a wizard he weaved and wound his way ’round buses and cars, through tunnels and toll stops, all the while happy to carry on a conversation where we understood about 15% of what each other was saying. I think I told him I used to drive a cab too, but I may have told him I had soiled shoes. No matter, we had a nice chat and made it to Narita in record time. But even record time wasn’t going to be sufficient to get me and my bag on my flight, so I nicely asked the enormous line at Customs/Immigration to please allow me to cut in front of them because my plane was leaving. My fellow travelers were kind and I flew through. After a slight delay at TSA (well, their version of TSA) to do a more extensive check of all the dangerous veg food items I carry on board, you know, like seaweed-flavored cashews, I ran to my gate. Made it. Got on. Crashed, er, slept for a few hours, and half a day later arrived at Newark to catch the 37-minute flight to Hartford to catch the 4-minute shuttle to my car to drive the 50 minutes to my home to walk up the 3 steps to my back porch. Somehow I arrived before I left. I think it has to do with the earth’s wobble, but I could be wrong about that.

My last day in Japan was filled with great food, some hair chopping (he took a bit too much off–good thing it’s winter and I’ll be locked away in the studio so no one will notice by the time Spring comes), and yet more yummy food. Did I ever tell you that before I was a cab driver, my first job ever (if you don’t count the Kool-Aid stand) was at Baskin-Robbins? ImageThe one in Berkeley next to Bing Wong Cleaners was never as nice as the one in the “You Me” mall in Hiroshima. Did I ever tell you I got fired from my first job? Oh well, I fired Baskin-Robbins too. Although I do miss those little birthday postcards they used to send. Anyway, let’s put all that ugliness behind us and get back to why you’re really here–food fotos, like this one from yet another fine meal at the Vegan Cafe:ImageAnd naturally one cannot NOT visit the incredibly misnamed macrobiotic Maison de Croissant, where I’m not sure a croissant has ever existed, yet the food is simply spectacular. ImageAnd what do I do while waiting for this delicious food to come my way? ImageI really hope more Americans make an effort to visit Hiroshima, and the Peace Museum and Peace Park. The city is also a great place for shopping and eating (duh). And when you go, be sure to stay at the fabulous Hotel Granvia, Imageand tell ’em I sent you. Sure they’ll have no idea what you’re referring to, but still, they’ll smile and nod and you’ll think I’m really famous, so it’s a win-win-win. Wait, check that, I think that makes it a win-lose-win.

Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible, and to those who took trains, taxis, bicycles, and strollers to make it out to my show. I can’t wait to return to your beautiful city in your beautiful country.

Mata aimashou, Japan!Image

Hiroshima, Dec. 1, 2012

Yesterday featured great food, a great moon, a great 100yen Shop, and an even greater audience at a great venue. It was a pretty great day. When your day begins with this: Imagethe odds are good that things will be going well. Recharged and ready to go, I made my way over to the big 100yen shop and went crazy. I really can’t decide which I like better, the fully automated Toto toilets or the 100yen shops. They are continually fighting for my love. After working up an appetite, it was off to consume this:ImageI was on a roll. Note the small portions of many things, rather than gigantic portions of few things. There’s a lesson in there for us. I may need to rethink my Massachusetts lunches of a slice of bread with peanut butter and an apple. My good friend and Hiroshima guitarist, Tsutomu KubotaImage met me in the lobby for our long walk over to the venue. The club is right across the street from the baseball stadium where the Hiroshima Carp play. They are a beloved team and the stadium rivals the size of our largest ones in the U.S. They sell out most games. They take their baseball very seriously over here. ImageImageAlthough I’m not sure I liked being called a fool and being told to shoo. What’s up with that?ImageThe venue, Okie Dokie, was a rarity in clubs. I’ve played trillions of clubs around the planet, and I think I can count on 2 hands the ones that really have it together. It helps when the owner is a 30-something year-old musician. Everything was taken care of–picks on the mic stand, all guitars in tune, including the 12-string (I had my choice from about 20 guitars!), a gorgeous Yamaha upright, reverb in my freaking monitor (asking for this “luxury” in U.S. clubs can get you banned for life), killer lighting, on and on. The sound couldn’t have been better. ImageImageThe fans were out in force and with me for the entire set. ImageImageImage

Set LIst:

A Night Like This/Wasn’t Supposed To Happen/Where You Are/The King & The Queen/Arianne/Wake Me Up/The World Is Upside Down/The Last Hawk/I Should Understand/Sierra/Tomorrow We’ll Try Again/Whenever The Rain Falls/Karaoke Kyle: A Rock In My Shoe+The First Thing On My Mind/Superstar/Let Me Let Go/You Will Dance Again/Petals of Peace/Encore–Power Pop Trilogy in E: I Wanna Be With You+I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend+Whatever Happened To Fun/Saturday Night (BCR)

Famished, we went to have a dish Hiroshima is known for, Okonomiyaki, the preparation of which you really must witness to appreciate. The place we go to has a “KV Special” since I’ve been there so many times and I’m the only person ever to request a vegan version…and lived to blog about it. It was delicious as always.

After absorbing a spectacular moon rise, (and loving the zoom on my camera),ImageI said good night to this lovely city.

More tomorrow, or today, depending where you are.

Mata ne (see you later)


Hello Hiroshima…FINALLY!

I left my home in Massachusetts at 4AM on Wed. Drove one hour to the airport. Flew to Newark. Waited 3 hours, then 4, then 5…flight delayed. Good thing the United Club had lots of bananas and hot water for the oatmeal I always carry in my pocket! Finally we took off. I slept a lot on the 14-hour flight, but had a long, epic dream of the plane losing an engine. Not that big a deal, I always have airplane dreams, and besides, the triple 7 carries 2 engines. At the northern arc of our flight path, we touched over the arctic circle. I took a nice shot, although the photo really doesn’t capture all the majesty. ImageThe airline special “Strict Vegetarian” meal I had requested was actually quite good. I’m impressed, United. ImageSo we arrived 90 minutes late into Narita. Customs/Immigration took literally 30 seconds, a new record for me. I think by now they just open my passport, see a zillion stamps from past trips to Japan, and figure I can’t be too much of a freak..if only they knew.

I went to claim my bag, and a big box with my name on it was going around and around on the luggage carousel telling me to see a representative. Uh-oh. I figured this meant my luggage had flown out of the plane somewhere over the arctic, probably while I was having my bad dream. But no, they needed to let me know that I wasn’t going to make my connection to Hiroshima, but no biggie, they’d pay for me to take a bus to the other Tokyo airport, Haneda, from where I would catch a different flight, as all the Narita-Hiroshima flights were over-booked. Hey, what’s another 2-hour delay? OK, grabbed my luggage and hopped on the bus. 75 minutes later we were at Haneda. ImageI checked in and was told they could get me on the earlier Haneda-Hiroshima flight, which just happened to be on the new, ultra-cool 787! Boarded a shuttle bus that takes you out to the plane (no jet bridge for the 787). ImageAn elderly lady was in my seat, but somehow through my broken Japanese and her 100% Japanese, we were able to negotiate that I’d find a different seat and that she could just stay there. I’d like to think this was because of what a nice guy I am, but the size of the cane she had hooked onto her seat may have entered my mind. The 787 is a pretty sweet plane. Nice blue lighting, huge luggage bins tucked way up high, so there’s loads of headroom. It’s also quieter and smoother than most other air rides. So I finally arrive at Hiroshima, bag too, ride to hotel is an hour, take-out dinner in a box, but just look at how niceImage, and finally at midnight, also known as 10AM Massachusetts time, or 32 hours after I had woken up to get to the airport, I was drifting off to sleep.

This morning I woke up and headed down to enjoy what I truly believe to be the world’s finest hotel buffet breakfast,Image featuring my fave fruit, the lychee. One thing about Japanese meals, they have little portions of so many different colored foods. It’s such a wide spectrum of taste, look, and texture, I’m sure it makes for a much healthier body nourishing. Then again, I’d be happy with just 20 lychees for breakfast. They really are the perfect fruit, or are they a nut? Kinda like a vanilla flavored large grape.Image

My laptop is under the weather, appears to be terminal, so it was not working all day. I may or may not be able to post any more updates, I’ve got it barely sluggin’ along now, propped up at just the right angle, with an apple, so as not to quit, but I doubt it will make it through the night.

Spent much of the day at the Peace Park. ImageImageImageImageThere are some newly planted sakura that were rescued from a sakura that survived the blast. This city is all about rebirth and survival. Image

It’s such a stunning sight to see the Atomic Bomb Dome.    ImageIt fills one with sadness, but also with a sense of joy when you see how vibrant and beautiful the city and its people are. The flowers have come to the foreground.

The dropping of a bomb should not define Hiroshima, the resiliency and determination of its peaceful people should. Everyone should visit the Peace Museum and park.Image

Had a great late lunch at my favorite eatery here, The Vegan Cafe. ImageHow I wish they would open a 2nd location in the boonies of Massachusetts. Pretty sure I alone could keep them thriving.Image

Concert tomorrow night at 8PM. There’s still time for everyone to hop a plane and get here!


i am now at the…

i am now at the airport in Chicago preparing to get on my last plane for the trip home. The 2 shows in Portland, Oregon this weekend were a lot of fun. Friday night I played with a great power pop band called “Throwback Suburbia”, they even joined me on stage for “Wake Me Up…” and played it exactly like the record! So much fun, great guys, with very strong pop melodies. Then last night I played a living room show for about 2 hours. The audience was great and seemed to have a good time. Before I came to Portland I spent a couple days with friends on an island across from Seattle, Washington, that is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s so beautiful. I am including a photo here of me holding a baby goat (how do I say ‘goat’ in Japanese??), who seems to be laughing at me!

Update on my next trip to Japan: We are working on a possible Candy Rocks/KV tour and other touring ideas, and also possible recording in Japan! It is also my dream to have my new solo album CD release in Japan! I will keep you updated on that as it comes along. I have written 2 new songs with Tommy Dunbar, and will be writing with Parthenon Huxley as well. A couple weeks ago I was in L.A. where I recorded 7 songs with a bassist and drummer who are 2 of the best players in music. So, I can’t wait for you all to hear the new CD! Peace & Happiness to you from my airplane (where I am now seated!)


PS. Please follow me on Twitter if you are not already. Thanks! twitter.com/kvmusic