|LIFE IN JAPAN
|Photo by Marco Mancini
Jazz musician and composer
Time in Japan:
Eight years and nine months
Where are you from?
Long Island, New York.
What brought you to Japan?
Music. I first came 13 years ago with a college band for a two-week tour, playing the
French horn. Before that I had no interest in Japan. The reason why I came to Japan is the
sense of order that exists here.
What is it like to play with Japanese musicians?
They have great musicians here, and every individual has his or her own personality. It'
very interesting. The more people I meet, the more I learn, the more experience I have.
What are your musical plans in Japan?
I want to work on my own compositions, my own musical style, and to package it - to sell
it. That's the hardest thing for me to do, and I'm not a businessman. Also, I want to play
as much as possible outside of Tokyo. Next month I will go on a very short money-losing
trip to Kansai. I will be in Osaka for one day and Kobe for one day. I will try to make
contacts. There are a lot of interesting things outside of Tokyo, and there are big
audiences for jazz, and I want to go find these audiences. The further you go away from
Tokyo, the less saturated they are with music and culture, because they don't get many
opportunities. Tokyo has too much of everything. The reaction out of Tokyo is bigger -
it's an ego massage! It's relaxing to get out of Tokyo.
Is it easy to make a living as a musician in Japan?
Well, I am not a businessman, I mean I am more like an artist than a businessman. I know
many musicians make more money than me because they play at weddings, department stores,
and I don't play that much, I play my own gigs maybe twice a month.
What do you like best about Japan?
It's safe. You can walk around wherever you are, if there are no bosozoku, of
course. Also I like the Japanese order, shitsujo, like a new world order. You
could easily live here comfortably, but I always ask myself if I'm growing - am I going to
the next level?
What's your weirdest experience here?
Some I can't tell you. But when I first came to Japan, my language abilities weren't that
good and I asked for directions, but the Japanese people didn't understand me. But now I
understand that no matter how good your Japanese is, some people still don't understand
How can one have a happy life in Japan?
I think you need to have a clear idea about what you are doing here, learn how to
compromise, because there is a very different culture here. And always remember it's your
choice to be here.
Jonathan Katz spoke to Marco Mancini.
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