Time in Japan:
What do you do
here? Well, I' doing a whole ton of different things. I've just changed my own
translation and training company to an events and music company, so I'm doing what I love
now. Our idea is to build up the underground live music community that's bubbling under
here and be among the first people to sell it to a Japanese audience, as well as a foreign
one. We're concentrating mainly on bands who are based here, but there will be some from
other countries as well. We want to find the best of those bands and put albums out for
So, you want to have a record label as well?
Yeah, yeah, exactly. We want bands with a couple of great songs and we'll put those out as
well. We've already put out one CD compilation, and we're working on another. It's called
For My Urban Life, as a tribute to the sort of Japanese English you see on advertisements,
but nobody else seemed to get the joke except me, so our next album's going to be quite
Where are you from?
I'm from near London, England.
What brought you to Japan?
I came to Japan because a half-Finnish friend of mine was working over here, having a
great time as a hostess in a gay bar. She told me that coming out here and partying would
be the best thing to do, so back in 1990 I came out straight after college. At that time
it was the end of the Bubble, Gold was giving out free champagne and you could get
yourself on to a guest list really easily.
Are you in a band?
I'm in two bands, actually. One is called Shaft, which is a pop rock band which is getting
really good. We played What the Dickens the other night, but soon we're going to change to
drum 'n' bass, get a bit of an electronic backbeat in there.
Are you planning to stay here in Japan?
Well, I've just started doing what I really want to do, so I'm going to be here for at
least another ten years. I think you've got to stay here a long time to really make things
What do you like about Japan most?
Just every day you get a shock form some people behaving in a way you don't expect. So
many things seem to go against commonsense. Unless you ask exactly the right question,
you'll never get the information you need. I like that. It keeps you on your toes.
What do you dislike about Japan most?
There's nothing I dislike about Japan. After I learned the language I enjoyed living here
a lot more.
Do you organize your CDs alphabetically?
No, they're arranged by genre and time period. I have 1000 CDs, ranging from monks
chanting to twentieth-century composers. Sometimes it's tough to decide on classification,
whether something should go under rock or dance.
What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen or experienced in Japan?
I constantly see Japanese people struggling to carry things that don't actually need to be
carried. So they'll be holding a heavy bag for an hour instead of using a luggage rack, or
be walking carrying a medium sized dog, or a two-ton shrine. Maybe it's something to do
with the 'gambaru' spirit.
What do you eat for breakfast?
Last night's curry, with lots of water. I like Tokyo water, straight from the tap.
If you could take one thing back from Japan to your native country, what would it be? Tatami mats, even though I don't like sitting on them for long periods of time, I
think they smell nice and they're beautiful.
Do you have a favorite place to eat or drink in Tokyo? I guess my favorite place to drink is the Mean Fiddler in Takadanobaba. My favorite is
my local Indian restaurant in Eidagawabashi.
Where would you like to be when the big one hits? Above the tidal wave, so either at the top of a large building in Shinjuku, or in
Takao on a mountain.
You have to spend the rest of your life trapped on the Yamanote line. You're allowed to
take one book, one CD and one luxury item. What would they be? I'd take Velvet Underground 1969, I never get bored with it. The book would be Winston
Churchill's history of Western civilization. The luxury would be an acoustic guitar.
Jon Lynch is the
organizer of UK Sound, a free concert taking place in Yoyogi Hiroba on October 17 from
10am-5pm. Bands playing include local Tokyo bands, Regurgitator and a mystery British
guest. For more information, see the website at http://www2.gol.com/users/gvm
The CD For My Urban Life is available now, priced JY1000.