After Tokyo Dark Castle

Another post from March 09 – after pulling an all-nighter at Tokyo Dark Castle, I stumble into the light and interview people…

Bear in mind we’ve been drinking for 6 or 7 hours, and it’s 6am. So we’re drunk and silly 🙂 I’m with Utarou and Miki from Baal, Nao – singer from deathrock band 13th Moon, Sisen, assorted TDC regulars and Chihiro in the background.

Miki has a touching message at the end for Dom, Karl & Amelia, saying “we need you back in Japan”. Aww…

After Tokyo Dark Castle,t=1,mt=video
trashtastika | MySpace Video

If that doesn’t work on your pc, here’s the link:
Chatting with Nao & Sisen after Tokyo Dark Castle

And here’s the link to the Harajuku one, where we walk down Takeshita Street and meet Sisen at Takuya Angel.

trashtastika | MySpace Video

Golden Gai, Kabukicho – Hair of the Dogs, Bar Albatross

Another post imported from Live Journal from November 08:

So, I HAVE to post about some of the wonderful nightlife I experienced while in Tokyo.

I was drawn to descriptions of some areas in Shibuya and Shinjuku where, amongst the high-rises and neon, exist some ramshackle, tiny, old-fashioned bars. Like, where 5 people is a crowd, and you have to walk up a steep flight of narrow stairs to enter, or venture down narrow passageways.

On my first night while waiting for the lift, I looked out the window to see what looked like a slum area, surrounded by modern buidlings on all sides – quite the anomaly. I looked at my LP and deduced it was the Golden Gai area in Kabukicho. Intriguing. After a few nights I finally ventured down into the den to see what I had been missing. What atmosphere!!

At first I went to the Albatross, where some people were sketching. So I asked for a pencil and joined them, and we had sketching competitions, of koalas and kangaroos, and sushi and sumo’s. Much fun. After maybe an hour or a bit more I announced I wanted to find the goth bar that Tim Burton had been to and went to take my leave. Not only did one of the guys refuse my offers of payment, saying he would treat me, he also walked me to the next bar! I was flabbergasted.

Unfortunately the bar in question was closed, so I walked back to a bar I’d seen earlier, with a big Ramones poster on the door – a punk bar!! Went inside and had the BEST time! There was a lovely bargirl AKI, and the owner Tohra soon turned up to say hi, with some friends in tow (from the fashion & tv industry). He had a turtle called De Niro in a tank in the bar – cool!

Anyhow, they played me Dead Kennedys and Sex Pistols, UK Subs and Stiff Little Fingers, Bad Manners and Specials, Shonen Knife…whatever I asked for. Bliss! I LOVE hearing music you love, when you’re far from home 🙂 I discovered the name of the bar is “Hair of the Dogs”. Stayed for a few hours, until a big spanish group came in.

I then went back the next night, after my night out at the Lock-up prison restaurant with Ivan (will come back to this in another post). First I met some young Japanese actors. Then a lovely couple from melbourne rocked up and we had a great time together. I got out my Fiend magazine, and lo and behold, the guy is in a music distribution company, and distributes music from some of the bands in the mag. Ka-ching!! Contact!

Will let the pics do the talking, as I’ve blathered on enough. But if you’re ever in Kabukicho – go to Hair of the Dogs and the Albatross – and many more!!

Golden Gai district Golden Gai district

This is looking down from my hotel – it looks like a slum area, doesn’t it? Cool!

Golden Gai again Golden Gai again

More of the same

In the midst of Golden Gai - see the punk bar to the right? Ramones - yeah! In the midst of Golden Gai – see the punk bar to the right? Ramones – yeah!

This is where it starts to get interesting…

Some other Golden Gai bars Some other Golden Gai bars

I guess this bar plays Pink Floyd I guess this bar plays Pink Floyd

Down in the Golden Gai alley, looking up at my hotel. Down in the Golden Gai alley, looking up at my hotel.

The name of the bar - Hair of the Dogs! The name of the bar – Hair of the Dogs!

It was on the ceiling, so you had to crane your neck and look up to see the name.

Bright red walls of punk bar Bright red walls of punk bar

Tohra, owner of hair of the Dog - punktastic! Tohra, owner of hair of the Dog – punktastic!

The Japanese John Hurt, Tohra's friend. The Japanese John Hurt, Tohra’s friend.

Another friend of Tohra's Another friend of Tohra’s

Tohra having a beer with us Tohra having a beer with us

Spanish friends Spanish friends

Me and a new friend from melbourne, in Hair of the Dogs Me and a new friend from melbourne, in Hair of the Dogs

Me with De Niro the turtle in the tank behind me Me with De Niro the turtle in the tank behind me

Shinjuku fruitsy girl and Shibuya deco nails extraordinaire

Here’s a few pics from my last Saturday in Tokyo. I started off in Kabukicho, and walking from Hotel Shirakawago I spotted this cool chick who was kind of fruitsy, and kind of goth.  One of the few NOT to be dressed hostess stylee in these parts.

I love how she has layered the leopard, and that she’s not afraid to be wacky.  You can’t really see it here but she has spooky lenses in, and lots of piercings in her ears. 
“Hey! We have the same ring”, she said. And it was true – mine was green and hers was black. Our fashion styles overlap, even if she is far more into the fruitsy style than me.
I continued onto Shibuya, for my last visit this time around.  Of course there were a zillion people waiting at the Hachiko statue. Nice to see the blossoms just coming out on the tree. Familiar to see the old dude with the long hair and beard hanging around there.
And of course, the images on the buildings give you something to look at while you wait for the lights to change. This time the ipad was being spruiked.
But it was Shibuya 109 I was heading for…
Whereupon I started at the top floor and worked my way down. As I mentioned before, I wasn’t intending to buy anything…but I did. I got a great belt buckle that I will use as a necklace or brooch.
But the most amazing thing was the nails of the girl who served me in the store.
Whoa! How does she work in those things? But she does. She packaged up my little ornament in tissue paper and the plastic sealed baggie things they have here, handled the money and gave me my change. It’s a real skill to be learned.
I did grab a few great lashes and things from other shops, but my final purchase of the day was these rockin studded shoes.

All in all, I was quite happy with my afternoon. Later that night would be the visit to the hairdresser and then to Midnight Mess – check out my earlier posts for those.

Many more Tokyo posts to come, so do pop back 🙂

The Blue Hostess. Host and hostess hair in Kabukicho.

After an exhausting and crazy two and a half weeks, I’m back home..and have AT LEAST 2 weeks worth of posts to unfurl. Stores and brands I discovered, fab people I met, bands I saw, adventures I and my friends had, trends I noticed, helpful stuff about Japan and Shinjuku to share….

But for now I want to share something I had on my list to do, that I didn’t attempt til my last night. Living in the heart of Kabukicho, you can’t but notice all the hosts and hostesses around the streets, and indeed see the clubs themselves everywhere.

The males especially, strut around the place like peacocks in their natty shiny suits and pointy crocodile shoes, usually with mobile phone glued to ear. Note the plumage, as David Attenborough might say; the carefully tufted style is the work of experts. I told these dudes how good they looked, and they were happy to pose for me 🙂

This subject needs a post all on its own, actually; the entertainment district has within it many businesses that cater almost entirely to the host/hostess industry, which are not always obvious to the casual observer. For the clubs to run and their staff to look impeccable, there is a mountain of behind-the-scenes services.

Such as 24 hour hair salons, where those divine looking gals and guys go to get their hair perfected.

I had this crazy notion to front up to a salon and see if I could get my hair done hostess stylee.

Getting my hair washed and blow dried was a necessity anyway, since getting blue hair dye all over the hotel bathroom wasn’t something I wished to repeat.

So on my last night I ventured out and saw a sign indicating a salon on the 2nd floor. In Tokyo you have to look up, as most things are on upper floors, and you’ll miss a lot if you don’t!

I take a deep breath, a bit nervous. A blue-haired gaijin coming into a Kabukicho hair salon isn’t something that happens everyday, I expect, and I’m not sure if I’ll just get stares and total incomprehension.

I walk up the stairs and after excusing myself with “sumimasen”, I ask for a shampoo and blow-dry. Sadly, I discover that this place only does hair sets, not having basins etc.  I turn away, a little dejected, and head down the stairs. As I walk down the road I hear footsteps running after me.  I turn around, and one of the girls indicates she’ll show me where I CAN get my hair washed and done. Relief!

Not only that, she walks me there herself…to another salon on the 2nd floor that I may not have found on my own. We walk in, and everyone smiles and seems to think my hair is cool. Even better, I end up with 3 cute guys working on my hair!

Long-haired Ryo is assigned to wash my hair…and it turns out he lived in Australia for 3 years, in Queensland and Western Australia.  So his English is good, and we chat about barbecues, the Barrier Reef and Ningaloo, as I get a great head massage.

Ryo asks me what style I would like and shows me a few magazines. I opt for wavy curls with high hair at the back.  After blow-drying, another 2 guys intermittently help out – teasing the crown of my hair high, using curling irons for the ringlets and so on. It was hairsprayed to within an inch if its life, I tell you 🙂

I decide a few in-process snaps would be cool..and here they are.

Of course, the guys had to ham it up for the photos.
And the result?
When they finished, it was 10pm..and the place was packed, as you can just see on the left below. But they had hours to go of their shift yet; the place runs 24/7 on the weekend.
And all for 3,000 yen…or less than $40. Thanks Ryo! I was now ready to continue getting ready for Midnight Mess…but that’s another post…so that’s all for now.