LEYLA FORD’S ADVENTURES IN JAPAN, PART 2: TOKYO
Read part one of Leyla’s Japanese adventure here.
The Metal Travel Guide is a pretty handy website if you’re looking to find local music haunts in the cities you’re traveling to/within, and I decided to try out it rather than rely on dumb luck like in Osaka. There were a few listings for Tokyo, so I gambled and picked one at random. I won.
Godz is a tiny little basement bar in the Shinjuku district of Japan. It’ll fit maybe forty people if they stand crammed together, shoulder to shoulder (like in a train at rush hour, which I also did), and is absolutely plastered with all sorts of music paraphernalia. The best part is the giant screen and music collection, from which you can pick whatever song you like. They have them alphabetized in binders, and all you have to do is take it up to the bartender who’ll put in your request. Inspired by the Dream Evil signed sheet tacked to the wall, I went for “Heavy Metal Jesus” as my first pick. My friend decided to go the subtle route with S.O.D.’s “Speak English or Die.” Charming.
Actually, it was. The very put-together Japanese businessman, who was sitting quietly in the corner, lost it. He head-banged and screamed along and flashed us thumbs up when it was over. Since it was the middle of the week, we were the only three people in the place. So we took turns picking our songs.
Though Godz boasts a huge selection, they didn’t have anything from my guilty pleasure band, Metalucifer. Because after a night of drinking, everyone needs to listen to the band’s Heavy Metal Bulldozer, which boasts ten songs all beginning with the phrase “heavy metal.”
They didn’t have any of Sabbat’s black/thrash either. Sabbat actually had a mini-Us tour a few years ago, and although I didn’t get to see it, I’m told their hulking bare asses with slipping bullet belts were not something that could be easily forgotten.
United are a band I’d never heard of before, but they apparently celebrated their thirtieth anniversary in 2011 with the release of Tear of Illusions. They’re more of that hardcore/thrash that seems so popular.:
Since Godz served us so well that first night, we went back at least three more times before we left. We could’ve gambled with the other places, but it seemed too perfect a divey haunt to just give up. Plus, we made Thursday night thrash night.
During the daytime while exploring Shibuya, I stumbled across a store called Blitz. It’s like Hot Topic but with none of the bad stuff (i.e., neon things and Invader Zim). It’s all licensed band merchandise from t-shirts to bags to patches to posters. If you want to buy metal t-shirts, that’s the place to go. However, there’s really no local stuff. Just the stuff you could probably order online.
There are plenty of little shops in the Harajuku district that have music-related stuff, too. I found a vintage Jetboy shirt signed by all the members of the band, but, alas, it was the one thing not for sale. In a punk store, though, the brash lady proprietor did scare me into buying a Japanese punk band’s shirt even though their name isn’t on it and I can’t remember what it was in the first place. Their logo is two winged skulls side by side with a snake crawling in through one skull’s eye and out through the other. If someone can help me figure it out, I’d appreciate it, because I can’t wear it until I do.
Speaking about forgetting though, I can’t believe I forgot to mention EZO in the JW80HM section! They’re like The Cult meets Dokken, and I just… I have no words.
Japan’s Akihabara district is nerd paradise. It’s all arcades, electronics, video games, and porn shops that I was not allowed to go in. Not to mention the maid cafes, where sweet girls dressed (surprisingly enough) as maids keep you company and talk to you and make you feel like a functioning human being with social skills… for a small fee. Amidst all these is the most metal arcade game EVER. I have no idea what it’s actually called, but I have dubbed it “The Table Flipping Game.” You pick from a number of settings, such sitting at the dinner table, or your wedding, or your funeral, or whatever, and slam your hand on the table each time you want people to pay attention to you. When you’ve racked enough points with slams, you heave the table up off the thing and send everything crashing. The more people you maim and the more damage you do, the more points you get. What’s more metal than rage?
I’ve saved the best for last. Introducing Maximum The Hormone. I’m positive they will be everyone’s new favorite band.