Photo of Michael J Downey
  • Acoustic / Pop / Rock
  • SANTA CRUZ, California, US
  • Profile Views: 39,838

Michael J Downey's Blog

New blog postWrite a Blog Post
JAPAN BRIDGE TOUR 2007 by Michael J Downey on MyspaceShare your blog


Be here now..

Being suspended at 30,000 feet has a way of bringing you into the moment. This is my sixth trip to Japan. My second "major" tour. I remember my first real trip here, where every little detail rang with poetic urgency. Filled with expectations. Pre-conceived notions. But the beauty of having gone now as many times as I have, is that each time it seems that I'm less encumbered with both memories of the past, and expectations of the future. Yet the magic of the moment, and moments, remain.


I think of how fortunate I am, to be leading a life that not only allows me the freedom to do this, but has fostered being drawn to Asia itself. And in that, a renewed perspective of myself, and my home.


   Long-time friend & musician - Hiro, taking us out on our 1st night out on the town...

I'm also fortunate to have the many people in my life that have made this trip, and what I do, possible – the people at my 'day job,' Atusko san -my translator, tutor, and assistant, Hiro san, Duane, our road manager, the folks at DelOro Music in LA, Taeko san, Satomi san, and last but not least, the BAND – Christina Rasch and Jessica Fagre.



The first day began with an irreverent walk to the Imperial Palace.


Then our first show in Tokyo/Akihabara - at DressTokyo.



DAY 2 - Tokyo's Meguro district


Before the show, the real deal - at a lovely, family-run sushi bar around the corner.

Center- Duane, our road-manager, and 3 lovely artists who came to the show after dinner, and of course, Christina, who later perfomed daring feats of manual dexterity with chopsticks.

The show was at MapleHouse in Meguro. We did an hour show to a packed house and came back for an encore. THE CROWD WAS AWESOME!!! And the first bands were great - There was an acoustic/electric named MAH with great vocals and instrumentation, and a Clapton tribute band called LAID BACK HOURS that was fun too.


JUST ADDED - Hiro's Flash Slideshow from shows in Tokyo CLICK HERE


DAY 3 -

Jet-lag and excitement continue to rob us of sleep, but the momentum seems to be more than making up for it. Hiro san came to escort us for some sightseeing before making our way to the live house for the show later on.

First, we went to Ueno Park for that must-see event - cherry blossom viewing, or "o-hanami." It is truly spectacular to see, but when you're in it, when you're there, surrounded by the colors, the people, there is a deeper resonance in participating in such a time-honored tradition, that honors that part of us that seeks out beauty, and comaraderie, and somehow a perfect stillness exists in the hustle-bustle of tens of thousands of people, all going to the same place for the same thing.


From Ueno, we went to Asakusa - one of the last stronholds of traditional Japan in Tokyo - with Temples, shrines, a Tori gate, hundreds of food, clothing, and souvenier booths, and of course, thousands of people, taking in a sunny, Sunday afternoon. We enjoyed yaki soba and then gave the octupus dumpling balls a try - actually quite good!

Sola (singer/violinist extraordinaire with Hiro's band), Jessica, and Christina


It was a memorable night at the show at Soundstream in Chiba. It felt like a homecoming, with Hiro san having arranged everything - First a jazzy, acoustic/electric band called AMBITION SOUND played, then "Hiro and Nana" acoustic guitar and violin, with superb vocals. Hiro san just had to play a song by our mutual friend, a singer-songwriter diva that I wrote "I Let Her In" about, and who also broke my heart...It was an emotional song to hear, and very beatitful. Then, Okano san's band ODDS 'N' SODS played and kicked it out with blistering versions of country-alt cover tunes, and their own songs, too.

Our set was again an hour long, and once again we were honored to be called back for an encore. It was truly a memorable night...

At one point, in between songs, I pulled out the digital camera and took pictures of the crowd, they were AWESOME!!!


           LEFT                              CENTER                            RIGHT


DAY 4 - (day off / train to Hakone)

Still buzzing from the excitement of the last couple of shows, we made our way to the Shinkansen/Bullet Train to go to Hakone – a beautiful mountain, hot-spring town in the shadow of Mt. Fuji – for a day off. As it happens, the day was cool, overcast, and the higher up the mountain our taxi took us to get to the ryokan/inn, fog enveloped us as well as a fine drizzle, perfect weather for soaking in the beautiful, outdoor hot springs.


The meals there were amazing – a feast for the eyes, as well as the body.

And our hostess – Michiko – was an absolute sweetheart. She spoke to the girls in English, and to me in Japanese, and called me "Michele" after gracing me with her version of the beatles song "michelle, my belle" .


DAY 5, 6, and 7 - to Kyoto


Once again, hopping on a bullet train, we made our way to that venerable, historic city...Kyoto. As it was another day off for us, we hooked up with my friend Satomi, and went sightseeing. In Japan cherry blossom viewing is a national institution, and timing one's visit to coincide with this auspicious event, which lasts only about a week, can be tricky. But somehow, we ended up here at exactly the right time - It is truly a soul-inspiring, beautiful thing to experience....

The show in Kyoto was a BLAST! The other bands were a lot of fun - a goth/metal band called G.I.F.Liquidbrains, a masked dynamic trio that reminded me of Aquabats... There were some great friends I'd met on previous trips to Kyoto, some new ones from MySpace and MIXI, and a great crowd all in all...



Yet another page with some fun photos and video of our shows in Tokyo, sent to me by Mosurin. CLICK HERE 


Day 8 - Osaka

We trained from Kyoto to Osaka (about 45 minutes) and played at a beautiful downtown club called the Flamingo.





During the tour, we've been paired with everything from "Sonic Death Monkeys" metal bands, to punk-pop-goth bouncing bettys. But the truth is, the level of talent here is amazing. Happily, the lineup of bands tonight was awesome - the acoustic guitar and percussion of "Sumpler Numpler" and the beautiful, Enigma-meets-Enya music of "Cojok."


DAY 9 Osaka and Kobe

We started out the day with a trip to the infamous Osaka Castle, and the breathtaking surrounding park...


Then Duane drove us to Kobe (about an hour) for the show at Pi:z Kobe. The fans and other bands were AWESOME!!!

And out front, after the show:


DAY 10 - To Nagoya

We rode in the tour van from Osaka to Nagoya (about 2 hours) and got to the MUSIC FARM in time for sound check. It was a rockin last show for the tour, then went out to celebrate, and back to the Sakae/downtown area where our hotel was.


DAY 11-  Going home

After a last breakfast together at the hotel in Nagoya, we board a shuttle to Nagoya airport. As we speed by countless nearby buildings, signs, and cars, I notice the distant mountains, relatively constant by contrast. I think of the many new friends and acquaintances we've made, and the places that have come and gone, and also the handful of truly enduring, faithful friends I've made over the last few years there. Hiro san, who set up a show in Tokyo, took us out the first night, sent us all beautiful, gift-wrapped,  Japanese geisha dolls to our hotel in Nagoya, and lent his constant support by phone, email, and in his good heart.

And of Satomi, who took us sightseeing in Kyoto, went to all four of the shows in the Kansai region, some as far away as 2 hours by train, brought us presents, and made sure we were never wanting for anything.

Back in San Francisco, Atsuko was the one who set up most of the shows, booked the hotels, and scolded me for my poor Japanese

The true worth of this tour was not in how many shows we packed the house, although we did; not in the number of CDs I sold, although I did; and definitely not in the money that was made – quite the contrary – touring Japan is a costly endeavor. But the true worth of this tour, for me, was the reaction I got when everynight on stage (in Japanese) I would say that "I hope that Japan and America become better friends." Every night, that line would get a round of cheers and applause – even from the most jaded kids. And that is what this tour has been all about. Right there. Right now. Be here now.




Michael J Downey
  • Ryu (Rotz)

    I read bridge blog of a Japanese version.

    A pleasant memory revived in my heart.

    By the way, it is hard to say now….
    It was surely me that arranged about a sound stream entirely.(?)

    Oh, it is a trifling thing. (?)

    4 years ago
      Michael J Downey いいえ!ごめんなさい!失礼しました。おかのさん、本当にありがとうございます。本当の友達だよ。また一緒に演奏しましょうね!!!
      4 years ago
  • Yasuto




    4 years ago
      Michael J Downey


      4 years ago
  • mikachi

    Looks like you had a good time!!

    I really wanted to go to the live! I'm looking forward to having next time!!!

    4 years ago
      Michael J Downey




      4 years ago
  • David Longoria HEY YOU GUYS! The pictures are beautiful! You are having a great tour already I can can see. May it reach many and build relationships and create new fans everywhere!
    4 years ago
  • hiro/Sola

    Hakone, Kyoto, I are very enviable!!!

    I wanted to go with you!


    You take sleep enough, and please act.Because JPN weather is unstable now

    Take care !!

    4 years ago