Wednesday, May 31, 2017


I think I'm still really sad about Isshikisan.

I'm not sure if it's sad, but there's a loss that lingers in my heart that wishes he was still alive, that wishes he wasn't dead.

I was walking to the studio yesterday and passed the florist by the corner and they had a really pretty flower there. Seeing the flowers made me think of Isshikisan and how I wish we was still alive to see flowers like this still.

And today I was at polly and Art-School's show at FEVER.

I managed to get a spot in the first row on stage right and it made me think of Isshikisan because FEVER was the last place he had ever played a guitar live, in Tsubaki's last anniversary show on the night of December 10th and the morning of December 11th. He chose to end with Hikari.

And I remember this spot was probably the exact spot that I stood that December when I saw Isshikisan packed up his guitar after the show. And I always wondered to myself how he felt that moment knowing this was probably the last time he'd ever pack it up. That morning, Uraino guy who was DJing was joking around A LOT and just making a huge party at 4am, and I remember while Isshikisan packed, he was looking at the Uraino guy who was at the drink bar, and Isshikisan was smiling.

They coaxed him (Isshikisan) to sing along this song but Isshikisan was a little reluctant at first but after more teasing, Isshikisan pulled out his phone and pulled up the lyrics and sang to the song passionately albeit jokingly. Haha.

So today, standing there, at that very same spot, with those very same blue lights that illuminates FEVER stage, I thought of Isshikisan that night, having fun, smiling, and being alive.

But now he's gone.
And he'll never return to that stage.
He won't ever play the guitar again.
And he'll never sing again.

Standing there tonight, I thought of Okamotosan's farewell message about her friend, her band mate, her husband Isshiki, "he's reunited with his parents and he can finally play his beloved guitar once again".

I want to think of that.
And his smile.
And his happiness.
Like that night on stage.

But I couldn't help but wish, I wish so hard, he was not dead. That he could still be here to be here with us tonight.
So he could smile.
So he could sing
So he could play his beloved guitar once again like he did that night when he was still alive.

I wish so hard that someone like him could still exist and be alive in the world today. I wish he were still living somewhere in this world healthy and happy with Okamotosan even though we can never see him again. I just wish so hard he hadn't died. I just wish so much he was still around somewhere. I just wish so hard he didn't meet the end that he did. It's not fair to him, to Okamotosan, to everyone who loved him, it's not fair to him that he had to die, that he can't live. He's not alive.

The world is indeed less of a wonderful guy like Isshiki.

And so I cried again tonight watching Polly as they played.
Because he's dead.
Because he will never be here with us again.
Because he can't and will never be here on this stage again.

The stage is empty now.
The stage is without you now.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

music makes.

So I've been checking out a lot of new Japanese bands on this app/website called Eggs.

It's such a stupid name and I've seen it around before but I ignored it coz of the stupid name.

But anyway, it's a great app coz basically it's an artist self-uploading Spotify-like app. It has daily and weekly ranking of most popular songs and artists. And you can just cloud stream the songs. (i wonder if the artists get paid!).

But anyway...

checking out the bands.......

I'm pretty disappointed. Every song and every band sounds like a replica of every other band and almost just variant copy of some famous/popular indie band.

I think Japanese indie has reached a point like what emo became in 2004, when every new band that kept popping out of the woodworks on back then just sounded like a boring unimaginative replica of every other fucking band that's already out there.

And Japanese music is like that.

Worse yet, my brother was right- Japanese music doesn't evolve.

So what this also means is that the 20-year-olds in bands today are playing songs that sound EXACTY the same as songs made by bands 6-7 years ago (when I first came to Japan), bands which have been very popular these days.

Also, the other maybe problematic thing which I have noticed in the Japanese indie music scene is that Japanese rock music has become so fucking insular- all the songs these days are SO FUCKING JAPANESE.

You see band that are my age (late 20s into late 30s), I think these bands were HEAVILY influenced by both Japanese music (Laruku/Yellow Monkeys/ Mr Children/Spitz/etc) AND ALSO western bands, grunge, Brit Rock, Heavy Metal: Nirvana, Oasis, Metallica, Radiohead, Blur and even more like Bowie, New Order, etc.

But most kids these days coming out of high school bands barely listen to these foreign band nor any foreign bands (and I blame this too for the lack of fucking really fucking innovative and influential rock bands from the west seeping into foreign music and culture).

So.... I feel most Japanese indie band these days are soooooooo fucking boring, repetitive and unimaginative.

I have to say though, that the only variety rising out of this mass of uninspired junk are actually FEMALE bands and vocalists.

You go girls!

Monday, May 29, 2017


So, I've only ever been to 4 studios.

I usually go to Studio Bayd in Shimokita.
I like that place coz it has an online booking system. So it's really convenient making reservations.
It's also quite small and have about 6 regular staff. Sometimes I talk to the main guy, Nakata-san. Another girl there, she's a friend of Polly's guitarist.
There's 3 main studio to reserve: A, B or C.
Recently I've come to like C the best coz it feels cosy and the sound system is louder. The drum set is good too.
B is also nice and cosy and the drum is great too. But the sound is a little soft.
A has good sound but it's a bit too bright and the drum sometimes has problems.

The other studio I sometimes go to is Studio Noah in Akasaka.
I mainly go there because it's close to work. So, I sometimes go during breaks.
The drum sets are really good and new at this studio. 
But the drawback is that they only have studios available on the clock, not at half past. So timing is terrible. 

The last one is Studio Noah, Shimokita (Studio Noah is the largest chain of studios).
I only started going there last week twice as a back-up coz Studio Bayd was full at the time I wanted to practice.
I got a reaaaallly huge studio the first time.
But anyway, the studio is quite okay but I didn't like the drum set especially the bass drum!!!!!!! 
Of all 3 studios they had terrible bass drums!! It's like the medium-sized ones!! Even for the large studio, the bass drum was less than good! >_<
What a waste!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Melampau much????

Today, we couldn't reserve a two-hour slot at the regular studio in Shimokita so we went to Studio Noah (a popular and the widest chain studio) in Shimokita instead and we got THIS studio:


Overdoing it much???????

It's like the size of my apartment!!!


Anyway, we decided to change a bit of Song 6 again. But this time I just don't think I have enough time to do it well so I think on the lesson on Sunday, I'm not gonna play it to sensei. But I might show him so he can help me.

Basically I'm also going to add opening and closing the hi-hat at the end of every bar for the last round of [C] and [C'].
I think the melody of the song just calls for it and it's really suitable!! 
But.. Alas, I can't play it well.
I keep forgetting the double kick on the bass drum on beat-3. And when I do remember it, I mess up the hi-hat.

But that said. I don't think it's impossible for me to play it. I think it's just gonna take repeated practice to get the hang of playing it. I just don't have enough time to practice before the lesson to play it accurately enough.

I remember in my first few lessons (and by that, I think it was the 2nd or 3rd lesson, since I'm only really actually on my 8th lesson this week ^^;), after sensei showed me the fill-in and I protested with "ムリ!" (that's impossible!). He told me, "it's not impossible, it's just a matter of practice".

I'm beginning to really understand that he might actually be right.
I'll never come 1% close to his ability and talent with all the fucking effort I put in, but I also think that if he did teach me something, if I do practice hard enough, as long as I can understand and hear the beat, I think I might be able to play it.

On that note, I also think that the single BEST FUCKING ADVICE, or should I actually say ADMONISHING that sensei said to me was: "it's not your playing that's bad, it's your listening". And he proceeded to tell me that I'm listening to my own playing and not the metronome and THAT is fucking bad.

And I think he is ABSOLUTELY COMPLETELY right.

I often find it so much easier to grasps and play if and when I manage to HEAR the beat or song. Easier said than actually done!!!!!

So I need to learn to LISTEN. Before I can actually play.

Talking about LISTENING and fill-ins!!!


But listening to today's recording, I noticed that I am fucking up the tempo of my fill-in!!!!!

So instead of playing a continuous 12341234, I'm playing 1234-1234, with a pause between!! 


So this means....



Let's pretend we actually know what we're doing........ 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Song 6 - May 23

Soooooooo today was a really good practice day!!! Compared to yesterday's which was a total bust!

So anyway, it's a little too late, but I've decided FOUR DAYS before my lesson, that I will modify Song 6, Mayim Mayim.

So Song 6 has 5 main parts:
Intro - 8 beat / 4 bars
[A] - 8 beat / 8 bars
[B] - 8 beat / 8 bars
[C] - 16-beat / 8 bars
[C'] - 16-beat / 8 bars

So the song goes:
Intro -> A -> B -> C -> A -> B -> C -> C'

And the bits are
Intro: 4th bar fill in at 3&4&
A: 8th bar fill in at 3&4&
B: 5th bar cymbal at 1; 8th bar fill in at 3&4&
C: 5th bar cymbal at 1; 8th bar fill in at 3&4&
C': 5th bar cymbal at 1; 8th bar fill in on snare at 1&2&3& and both snare and the floor tom at 4& (I think...)

In my last lesson, Sensei added the hi-hat opening at bottom of 4 (meaning &), and closing at 1 of the 5th bar for [B].

Anyway..... my weakest point thus far, which are repeated mistakes:
1) forgetting the fill-in at the end of [A] - usually the 2nd [A]
2) missing the fill-in at the end of [C] into [C'] coz I mishear the song
3) forgetting the hi-hat at [B], again coz I mishear the song
4) forgetting to switch from 8 to 16-beat at the 1st [C]
5) forgetting the fill-in in the Intro (because sensei is counting on the recording, I usually don't pay attention and listen to his counting for cues)

Other than those, I'm also shit at:
1) Hi-Hat opening/closing sounds like shit
2) Tempo is absolutely fucked.

Other than those.... I'm good.




Today's lesson and also since yesterday, I decided to change some bits.
Instead of [B] being  a duplicate of [A], I decided to add hi-hat opening/closings at the end of EVERY BAR. 
Bars 3-8 are easier to hear but I often miss the cue on bar 1 and if I get bar 1 correct, I sometimes miss bar 2. Also, having both feet up and down at the same time on the same beat can get confusing! So sometimes I fuck up the bass drum!
Also, for the second [C], I decided to add the hi-hat opening/closing at bars 2 and 6.
And for [C'], I decided to do another fill-in at the end of bar 4 before the cymbal.

Overall, I think it's.... ok.
IFFFFF I manage NOT to fuck up any part!!!!

Anyway, here's a recording of the song with said parts from today.
There are obvious fuck ups in the Hi-hat in [B] and also there was an extra Hi-hat before the cymbal in the second [C].

Anyway..... WILL try to practice this version to a doable level before Sunday's lesson!!


So today we got off work early and there was no Shibu Shibu classes.

So we went to Shimokita early and walked around.

It's funny how at noon, Shimokita is just waking up while by noon, Akasaka is in a mid-day lunch buzz ^^;

Big diff in atmosphere.

Anyway, seems like they pulled down yet another shop lot. I hope not another parking lot would be put up in its place :(

But it was interesting coz the empty space exposed a house covered with trees and creeping plants!!!


It's nice to be able to see that which is usually hidden otherwise.

On another note, the Taisho era store which has survived the clearance on the North-side's labyrinth leftover has been vandalized.
Quite sad, because now it means there no point in preserving the store and it's just better off demolished since it looks more like a dilapidated shack now than a piece of Shimokita's history. Pity really, that another unique characteristic of Shimokita will be yet lost.


On that note, I also realized that a lot of shops in Shimokita have actually shuttered and in their place new yet-another-cafe-eatery or a parking lot pop up.

It's like.... the thing that makes Shimokita unique are its nick-nack stores, its record shops, its second-hand clothes stores- but business IS bad for these stores and one by one they've closed shop because of dying owners and rising real estate prices.
So all you get are generic stores, chain stores or food places ANDDD parking lots.
So, really basically, that which draws people to this town is slowly disappearing but it's these shops that you need to keep the town alive.

Sometimes I think the town should offer a subsidy to stores that are unique but may not have a ton of sales, because in the end, it attracts more people to start businesses there, and it also draws people to come visit the town and hopefully spend more money here.

It's sad really.

There's so many tourists, like FOREIGN tourists in Shimokita these days because of sites like Tripadvisor and so, but what I want to tell them is that, really, Shimokita has lost a lot of the charm that used to make it unique. And they're better off going to places like Nakano or Koenji if they really wanna see small quaint stores on shopping arcade streets.

These days Shimokita feels more like a smack between Omotesando (the high-end fashionable street) and Harajuku (the too young fashionable street). But Shimokita isn't really fashionable because there aren't a lot of boutiques here anyway, so it's just the "nice cafe and eatery" place. Which is a pity, because this place used to a really cosy unique neighborhood town.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sensei's drum set up.

Sensei posted a pic of his drum kit for People's show today in Fukuoka.
That's A LOT of stuff!!!!!
I wonder if he uses them all..............

These days seems like band are simplifying their kit. Seems like they usually remove the right tom-tom and replace it with a ride cymbal.

Even NOVEMBERS is doing that.
Actually, even GREEN DAY is doing that!!! Then again, Green Day is a pop punk band!



I really wonder if Sensei uses all of the drums and cymbals in his kit, and I wonder what's the difference between a band like People who have so much stuff and other bands?
How are the sounds different? Is anything lost if there is less???? Is there even a need for so many????

Then again, People in the Box can sometime have some conplicated drum thingy in their songs. So I guess it's just more stuff for sensei to play with ^^;

Sunday, May 21, 2017



So seems like Yoohei changed his hairstyle.
Finally. After 2 years with the same hairstyle.
I wonder if girls and boys are gonna start dyeing their hair green. Hmm.

Seems like he changed it right after the Messe show in April, as seen here on his School of Lock blog.


He should've dyed it between the Sat and Sun concert. Like what Inochan did; cutting his hair- HALF his hair between Mezamashi TV in the morning and JUMP's afternoon show and then finishing up between the afternoon show and the night one.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Song 6


So, my success rate at playing Song 6 is still lingering at 66%.
My goal was to get it to a 80% by the next lesson next Sunday.

So, I guess I still need to practice a hell more.

But I noticed that I do tend to screw up more if I'm not paying attention. So I guess the trick is to PAY ATTENTION ALL THE TIME!!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

12th - 16th

Shinjuku 5am



Golden Gai and Tarantino hang out spots

Beers and Harmonica Gai


One tequila two tequila WHA!


Seeeee youuuuu (^ー^)ノ


Thursday, May 11, 2017


I actually really don't know how to write this post.

I don't think words can capture the immense loss and the aching sadness in my heart over Isshikisan.

I don't know what to say, you know.
What can be said?
What can be said about a person whom you did care about and had wished and hoped and prayed with all your heart that he wouldn't reach this absolutely hopeless and final end?



We went to Isshikisan's memorial service at Aoyama Funeral Parlor.

I'm sooooooo happy he and Okamotosan got married. I wished they had told us when they did.
I want so much to say to her "CONGRATULATIONS!" But.. "I'm sorry...".
I'm so happy they were married because it was such a great love story of a band, isn't it?
But I'm so happy they were married because he got to be married and he had her with him all the way till the end and even beyond that, I'm glad he had her there for him tonight.

I'm so glad that the girl that became the drummer who become the wife and who is his companion. I'm glad she was, tonight, his wife, and not merely the drummer of his band.


We went to mourn.

People  often say "you should celebrate their lives, not mourn their death",  but there really was nothing to celebrate tonight. Surrounded by family, by friends, by fans who attracted to the light and hope and the fun that was Isshiki, probably should've been disposed to celebrating- but no. All there  was tonight was tears, sadness, and loss.

I would like to say that people joked around and shared funny stories of Isshiki.. but no, there was none.

The memorial started with an introduction video- I missed the starting bits coz  I got there late with Toshie (who graciously accompanied me so I won't commit a faux pas). I arrived in time to see videos of Isshiki's Shinto  wedding  with Okamoto-san. A video which abruptly cut to a shot of his casket moved into the funeral parlour.

The eulogies started with one  by his Meiji University classmate,  who was sobbing while talking about their friendship.

The second  by Odakasan, who was also crying while chronicling Isshiki's intense fight the final two weeks of his life- literally, the fight of his life for his life.

The last, by Ogawasan, the usually stoic and strict "older-brother"-like figure to playful "younger-brother" Isshiki, tonight overwhelmed with tears as he spoke about his relationship with Isshiki,  their relationship with Tsubaki, and how playing as the three of them as Tsubaki is, was, the best in the end.

We took our turns to say our goodbyes.
First the family and friends in the main funeral parlour hall.
Then the fans in the second hall.
It struck me that moment as I stood there  in the hall  with these fans waiting for our turn: this was really NOT the Tsubaki event we ever wished we were invited to. We could do without this end.
We will never hear him sing, we will never see him smile, we will never hear him make all  his stupid silly Isshiki jokes again.

They played Tsubaki videos one by one as we waited our turns.
Isshikisan's heart,  his youth, his dreams, his youthful aspirations for an entire life ahead of him, his voice echoed through the halls, now he won't ever sing anymore.

He will never sing again.
We will never, ever hear him sing again.

It was  our turns and we filed  towards the main funeral hall.

We were all given flowers- mostly white or yellow daisies.
I brought my own  flower- a white Dahlia in lieu of a white chrysanthemum but which resembled Tsubaki's tsubaki logo more- and I also took a daisy (faux pas!)

And  then we stood.

Isshiki's guitars were  set up around his casket  among the altar flowers.
Seeing that really crushed  me and  brought home the moment to me.
The guitars, HIS guitars, the guitars he had loved to play- sits by his side, orphaned, alone, silent.

Okamotosan, well Isshiki  Naoko-san, and Ogawasan were standing by the right.

We stepped up to the table where we could place our flower.
For the life of me, I can't remember what picture they used  for his  altar.
But we bowed our heads and prayed.


I remember crying.

And turning to Isshiki Naoko-san and Ogawasan and bowing, like soooooo many times before after all those Tsubaki shows when they came out to greet fans but now..... now, it's just the two of them left, Tsubaki is incomplete, Tsubaki will never be complete again, Isshiki is gone,  it'll always just be only the two of  them.

I'm so sorry.

Then we left and went back to the second hall to look through old Tsubaki things they had set up for us fans.
I think they're so thoughtful. I think we fans are such bothersome things. It's just a personal and private time for them- they had just lost someone they loved and cherish and they must be feeling in the pits of sadness and loss. Yet, in all this confusion and loss, they still have to entertain the fans, the fans who albeit was a great part of his life and his work, but still... we're just merely fans,  you know? Fans and unrelated people in this very very very intensely personal time.

So I do thank the family and band, and company (there were some UKP staff setting up things definitely, like the speakers outside the hall for the final farewell bid), thank you for being thoughtful and considerate and in making space for outsiders like us fans to share in this deeply personal mourning.

And then, the time came.

The time came for the absolute, eternal, final farewell.

The casket was brought out, Isshiki Naoko-san preceeded him carrying his picture- a picture no doubt for a photoshoot that was definitely not meant for this.

I think, from now  on, always, when I listen to a Tsubaki song, it's sad but I think every time I listen to the songs, I will forever remember the image of Isshiki's casket being loaded into the hearse: that was final, the end was absolute.

Nothing is as absolute and as absolutely final as death.

A fan tried to clap but no one clapped with him.

I don't think anyone could cheer.

Because this really wasn't the end any of us wanted for Isshiki.
This really wasn't the fate and the final destiny we'd hope Isshiki would reach.
In the depths of our heart even though we knew he was so so sick, in the depths of our hearts, I think we all desperately wanted  him to keep living as much as he too fought so valiantly to live.

But in the end, the man who always sang about hope and dreams and never giving up and never giving in, lost.

And he's gone.

And he is never coming back.

He was so positive.
So hopeful.
So cheerful.
So wonderfully good.

He worked so so so so so so hard.
He fought so so so so  so so much.
He wanted to live, he wanted to sing, he wanted to perform again.
He wanted to be alive with his friends, his family, his band, his wife.
I'm sure.

It's just so unfair that life had to be taken, to be stolen from such an amazing and wonderful and positively bright man.
It's just so unfair.

I want to believe that what Isshiki Naoko-san said in her closing speech was true, "Now you get to be reunited with your family that  you longed so much to meet, and now you can finally play your beloved guitar again after such a long time".

It's so so sad.
All he wanted to do was live, play his guitar, make music, sing and be happy and alive.

Yet, at the end- he could do none of those; he couldn't even breathe.

My sadness lies not in myself.
Yes, I feel sad we won't see you live and hear you sing anymore and we won't ever get to hear your jokes again.
But beyond  that, the sadness and loss that I feel is for you. Is for you because you've been robbed, you've been cheated by life, you've been given such a terribly horribly bad deal: first losing your parents, then having your guitar taken away from you, but you still fought so hard to regain what you had lost, you kept trying to come back  to sing, you even got married and found your own family-- but fuck,  in the end, ALL OF THAT ALL OF  THAT was once again snatched away and taken from you forcefully.
It's not fair, it's absolutely not fair to you. You  had done NOTHING wrong, you hadn't hurt a soul. You asked for so little and fought so hard for all you had and yet! fucking life REFUSED to give anything  to you.
That's just so so so so so so so so incredibly unfair to you.
And that, that breaks my heart the most.

All you wanted was to be happy, to ask for so little, just life with Naokosan, with your friends, your family and to sing. That's all. That's all.

But you couldn't have any of that.
Not for long anyway.

And I feel so sad.
I feel so sad for you and everyone around you who loves you.

Rest well, Isshiki-san.
Thank you for having fought so hard.
Thank you for having lived.
Thank you for  having sung.
Thank you for being wonderful.
Thank you for being encouraging.
Thank you for your words, your songs, your smile.
Thank  you for the short time you had shared with us.
You were a blessing to us.

Rest well, Isshiki-san.
And I shall sing with you, still, always.


Tuesday, May 09, 2017



I wish you could've won the fight.
It isn't fair that this was your end.
It isn't fair at all.
Not after how hard you fought to live.
Not after how much you wanted to live.
It's not fair to you at all.

I wish this could've been different.
I wish this, THIS wasn't the ending of your song.
You who always sung about dreams, and hope, and holding on.