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When you stress yourself up too much with something, like it or not, you come to a point where you need a break. It’s not that you stop from doing a specific thing from one day to another: Your mind simply blocks you, leaving you in a state of both protection and inability, where the only thing to do for you is wait.

That’s what is happening to me right now: If you follow my website, you’ve probably noticed I haven’t been updating it for almost three weeks now. Which is crazy, considering I always damn myself when I can’t write new content each day, but now it doesn’t seem to worry me that much: I just can’t do much about it. I wouldn’t call this laziness, more like a (needed?) break I didn’t plan.

After all, even though my website has been online for six months, I’ve been working on it for more than a year, from the day I came back from Japan full of the inspiration only that country can give to me: From late winter, spring, the stressful summer and my holidays spent working at my laptop to build what you see today, from the launch in Autumn and all the work I’ve done until now, there hasn’t been a single day in my life in the past 15 months I haven’t dedicated to my website, while also doing my main job of artisan. I’m glad of this, as it’s the sign and proof of how much I believe in it from a personal point of view, but this unavoidably led me to this “catatonic” state: I stare at this blank page on my laptop, but no word is coming out of my mind. I can write small updates, but that’s just it.

This saddens me a lot, but I know it’s just a temporary state, cause I can feel my huge passion for music and writing alive inside of me: It just needs to rest a bit. I’m not sure if I should call this a writer’s block (it sounds cocky to be honest: I’m no best-seller writer or professional journalist) but I think this might be tied to other matters going on in my life now.

For now, I spend my days doing my regular job, running, playing videogames and listening to rap music, which is a genre that always helped me a lot in this kind of moments. I will be back writing again soon, when my mind will start collaborating again with my passion.

Don’t worry, you will never get rid of me 🙂

– Alex

♪ Guts over fear

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How I’m doing (?)

credits: tokyoluv.com

credits: tokyoluv.com

It’s been five months since I opened my new website Land of Rising Sound, yet it doesn’t even feel like it’s been already almost half a year: Despite social networks these days are much more cruel with new realities than it was before, the website itself is going well, it’s starting to have its followers and I get a fair amount of visits everyday, which is good even though there’s still a long way to go to reach my achievement. Working six hours in the morning and other five-six in the afternoon/night isn’t easy, my regular work tires me physically, writing, while pleasant, it’s still psychologically tiring, which is why I’m always pretty destroyed before going to sleep, but ironically, I’m doing this also to change this routine.

My website is only at the beginning after all, and soon something new will be added to it, that will hopefully give it even more exposure, plus many other things. I’m happy with what I’m doing, so I can’t really complain about anything despite feeling pretty weak.

There’s one thing I feel like it’s missing though: Someone telling how I’m doing. Someone that could criticize my work and say if there’s something I’m doing wrong, or simply give an impartial thought on what I write and do with my new project. Like “That article wasn’t so bad, but those few lines were truly horrible” and things like that. Someone that could tell me how I’m doing things, to improve myself and my skills. Yet, I’m no one’s apprentice. I’m not someone who’s learning a musical instrument with a teacher explaining what to do, nor a soccer player with a coach or a student with a professor: Despite admiring the work of a few journalists in my field, the only thing I can do is to improve by myself, seeing mistakes by myself and trying to fix them. It’s maybe the most difficult part of what I’m doing, but it’s also a sign of progression, which is all good.

Though, the day some will tell me how I’m doing may come, if something is gonna change.

– Alex

♪ Phonat – All this time

Tokyo is relaxing

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I know it may sound like a blasphemy, especially to those who always lived in the biggest city of Japan and face its chaos every morning to go to work or school (forgive me my friends), but from the standpoint of the way too attached tourist I am, Tokyo is truly relaxing. I’m not gonna explain again why the place I live in is so small yet so stressful, or why everyone who never visited Japan sees Tokyo as the Tokyo they let you see in TV, made of streams of people and stressful traffic, but I genuinely think it’s a wrong image for this city. It’s like watching a documentary about Rome showing only beggars and the criminals lurking every corner instead of the Colosseum or the Vatican. Well, not really the same thing, but anyway…

Of course there are streams of people in the rush hours of Tokyo (not the same can be said for cars honestly), but as a tourist I can’t feel any of the stress several people inside and outside Japan claim. Not only because even the way people walk in Japan is ordinated and respectful towards the others, but also because it’s a city and a population that doesn’t make me worry about anything at all. I feel safe in Tokyo, and I feel like I’m home.

It’s waking up in my hotel room in the morning, dress up and walk down the half empty mid-morning spacious streets where only people that didn’t had to go to work or school walk, it’s stopping by a conbini to buy breakfast and then walk again in the fresh and cold winter weather and admire the grey sky that seems to flow into the city so perfectly, to the point where I’m not sure if I love the beautiful blue winter sky more than the grey covering the city in some days. No one is screaming in the streets, no one looks restless or stressed (it doesn’t mean they aren’t, but that’s another matter), no one is getting mad at someone. Sometimes I think people and the city are a unique being. The lines at the station platform give me a sense of tranquillity, as well as the silence filling the train while watching the Shinjuku skyline moving quickly in front of me. It’s walking in Omotesando, in Golden Gai, in Yasukuni street, it’s feeling the quietness of the morning, it’s seeing people wandering in the shops, or owners carefully cleaning the doors of their little restaurants, or all the people without a destination looking at an undefined spot somewhere while smoking in front of Studio Alta. The safety, the relax you feel isn’t defined by the number of people or cars around you, but by the way you can dive into the soul of a place, defined by your love and understanding towards it. Who knows, maybe there is someone in this world who would love the hellish place I live in…

Loving Tokyo is like having a long distance relationship with a girl: You can’t wait to see her again the more the days go by, you suffer when you’re not with her, and when you finally meet her again after a long time, all the magic of the first time is all there and intact to give you love and a reason to live. Maybe the magic will disappear a little bit when the day we will finally be together to spend all the days of our lives together will come, but the love will still be there, finally giving a meaning to life.

If only there was a way to hug Studio Alta…

– Alex

♪ Sakanaction – Shiranami Top Water

Crossroads

There’s no place like home. Wether it’s a good or bad thing, wether it makes you feel relaxed or restless, home is a unique place in the life of a person, and everyone has a personal way to see the town where we’re born and raised.

I live in a 100 inhabitants town (yes, one hundred), a place where originally people shouldn’t have lived, but only industries and commercial activities should have took place. But during the so called “Golden age of economics” that hit Italy from the 50’s to the 80’s, people started to build houses in this little piece of field that divides one of the main italian streets and a railway, and made this place an actual town where people live: Step outside home and see trucks and cars passing a meter away from you. In case you live on the other side, be careful of not being invested by a train.

It’s a horrible place. There used to be shops and even a school when I was a child, but with the incoming economical crisis that ultimately exploded in 2008, nothing remained here except for abandoned places and houses, and a few activities: One of these is my father’s activity, which is where I work at.

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That’s the portrait of the place where I grew up. But it doesn’t really matter that much in the end: Places are made of people, human beings that can make you feel great and make all the decadence around you disappear. I had the luck to feel like this during my teenager period, but it only lasted four or five years until almost everyone abandoned this place and left me and other few long-time friends alone. Having long-time friends is great, but once you turn eighteen, things unavoidably change: You start to work, and responsibilities hit you right in the head. Despite I’m basically the same 14 years old guy dressing like a thug with the same old passions that keep me going through the hard times of life (bless them), the others changed and fell into the trap that afflicts almost every person of this place: Work, go to sleep, go hunting during weekends, and let your stupid depressed girlfriend shouting at you everytime you come back home ’cause your shoes are filled with mud. That’s the average life of people here. Concerts? What are concerts? Going around? There’s no one around here, so it’s better to stay home anyway.

I never wanted to be like that, and never will be. And while I still see these friends, we’re not close anymore, we have completely different passions, we speak different languages. I spend most of my life alone. I didn’t accept the unwritten law that rules this place, that comfortable lifestyle that makes you die inside at 20 and buries you only when you’re 80.

Living a lonely life in a place like this isn’t funny, even worse if you’re a black sheep. Cause of several events, the last 8 years of my life haven’t been easy at all: Only one thing saved me from the worse, and that thing is Japan. My spiritual home. The only times I felt really alive and happy during these years have been those I spent in Japan, and also in France.

Beautiful places, beautiful people, beautiful passions, beautiful minds… the people I always wanted to have close to me and never had the chance to have here. And everytime I get a plane back home, it gets worse and worse. Sometimes I feel like exploding, having all this passion and things to share inside me that remain unexpressed drives me crazy. I tried to talk about it with someone around me here, to the closest people, but no one literally cares: There are days I really hate everyone that makes part of my life here. Screw them all and their dead lives.

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Then I turn on my computer, my window to the world and the only place where I can express myself. I see a video: A group of people saying in chorus: “We miss you Alex!”

I think I have a tear on my eye: Here they are, my real friends. People I met during my trips and spent beautiful times with, and gave me wonderful memories to think at everytime I feel down, that keeps me alive. There’s also someone I never met in real life but that’s always been close to me, talking to me through this window that leads to the place where I’d want to live, wether it’s Japan, France, UK, America or any other place in the world.

Because that’s all I really want in the end: People to share my life and passions with. Even once a week, once a month, or whenever there’s time and possibility because we’re all busy with our lives at this stage. But the simple thought of having someone close who can listen and talk to me with sincerity, that shares something with me, would be everything.
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There’s a crossroad in front of me: One road leads to a place with people waving at me. I can see skyscrapers in the back, and the sun shines bright. The other road leads to a black void that’s trying to suck me in: There are dead trees inside of it, and no one is there.

I’m in the middle of this crossroad, giving my life to take the right direction, to reach those skyscrapers and all my friends, those who are already there and those who will come. Maybe I still have a chance.

I can make it.

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8 months

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Last Monday I launched my new project, a website about Japanese music (obviously!) called Land of Rising Sound, whose main goal is to spread the world’s biggest music market’s artists to everyone with several types of articles.

But let’s go back in time a little bit.

It all started after my second trip to Japan: After coming back home in January of this year I learned a lot more things about Japanese music and the culture surrounding it, and I felt like I should have wrote about it and dedicate some time to it. So I started to think about how to to englobe everything I learned and how to spread Japanese Music from a general point of view, and realized that Perfume Disco Blog wasn’t enough anymore; I’ll always love Perfume, they’re one of my favorite groups and the one that started it all, but the Japanese music scenario is so vast and filled with valid artists that writing exclusively about them would mean limiting myself and my passion. So I spent a good couple of months thinking about (i.e. torturing myself) about what to create and how to create it.

And so I ended up building a website about Japanese Music: It was easy to realize, but it took me a while (I’m like this).

Still, there are lots of good western online portals talking about the argument, some of them very good too, and if there’s something I hate to do is to create something that already exists. So I created a website apparently similar to the other ones, but conceptually different: I’ll explain myself better.

Most of the websites out there are all about news (sometimes even not related to music), often featuring interviews and live reports, but news are the main thing, which is really the smartest thing to do: They’re the kind of article that’s really quick to write and get you loads of visits, which translates into popularity and even money if you’re doing it for a living.

Now, let’s see this from a different point of view: You’re new to the Japanese music, you’ve just watched for the first time a Kyary or BABYMETAL video, and you want to know more about it, so you start searching for a website that could talk about this music market, the artists themselves or the genre they play, or simply why are they doing it in such a different way from the rest of the world: But what you get is only “Ikimonogakari to release a new single next month” and “Ayumi Hamasaki marries a random dude that’s 18 years younger than her”. At this point there are two possibilities: Search another website, or just go back to the world where Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Pitbull feat. Romeo er mejo gatto der Colosseo reign supreme. And we Japan lovers don’t want that to happen.

So, here’s what I’m trying to do with Land of Rising Sound: Provide basic informations like News and Impressions on newly released material while also analyzing music (the absolute and only argument of this website) with Reviews of Singles/Albums/Live DVDs, plus Articles about the music scene and the culture surrounding it and how it influences the Japanese society. Guides are also another important feature of this website: With an in-depth introduction to the Japanese Music market and how the society reacts to it, full descriptions of genres and all the most recommended artists and how to support this industry, I’m trying to create a place where the newcomers can finally understand what they’re hearing and watching and long time listeners can come back anytime for daily news, impression and musical analysis.

So that’s what my new website is about. It took me eight months to realize it (cause real life duties are cruel) and I hope people will like it, and eventually see it growing. It’ll be hard, but I’m confident in it. I still have many things in the works for this website, and there’s gonna be a lot of new things to enrich it in the future (without becoming too dispersive). I’ll also need a Staff with members, and that’s why I’m currently searching for people who loves Japanese music and writing.

In any case, I hope you’ll enjoy Land of Rising Sound. All the reviews I wrote here on my personal blog are now available there, so be sure to check them out!

That’s it guys. Imma buy some noodles now. Have a nice weekend! 😀

“This is Tokyo”

During my two trips in Japan I’ve always been lucky to have great friends (and great people) with me to share the fun: Concerts, walks around Tokyo, trips to other cities, or simply hang out to have dinner. During my first vacation back in 2011 I should have met three people I knew on Twitter, which means three days with friends and the rest of the time alone: It ended up being three days alone and all the rest with a new company. Even better during my second trip, where I met all the friends I had the pleasure to meet in Paris the year before, plus new and old ones. I have the greatest memories with these friends, and I would never exchange them with anything in this world.

Still, I also had the chance to live Tokyo alone. And those moments are the ones where I really dig inside myself and understand deeply my relationship with this city. Because the entirety of Japan is plain wonderful, but Tokyo is the heart of it.

While I took some of my lonely days to visit other places outside the city, I spent most of them just sitting somewhere and watch people passing by. It’s like a moment of intimacy with a person we love: Watch the scenario in front of Studio Alta constantly changing, the people frantically walking somewhere, the neons changing colors, the commercials on the huge screens, the little lights coming from windows of endless skyscrapers: All details that probably most of the people who never went to Japan would find boring and maybe even stressful.

But I totally get lost in it. Seeing all these lives passing by, trying to imagine who they are or what they’ll become, where they are headed to, their problems, how they are linked to all the other people surrounding them. Because while they probably don’t think about it or even don’t want to accept it, they are all connected. Our lives are all connected in some way. And it’s wonderful to think about all the stories, the tales that connect each one of them through the series of events that compose our existance. Maybe the girl that’s walking in front of me is trying to become an idol, or the man reading the newspaper that’s sitting not far from me lost his family and is trying to rebuild his life. Maybe the middle-aged man waiting at the crossing is a psychologist, and the one on the other side will commit suicide the same night. Maybe the woman texting with her phone at the station is an employee that will make me smile with her kindness and beauty in a random shop of Nakano, and make me love this city and country even more. As Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players”.

You can call me crazy, but I get lost in all these details. Because the life and the energy I see in this city I love so much makes me feel more alive than anything else in this world.

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” Kimi ga iu you na samishisa wa kanjinai kedo omoidashita
Koko wa Tokyo
Sore wa sore de boku wa ikiisogu na “

♪ Sakanaction – Eureka

– Alex

Under the streets of Tokyo

I still remember clearly the first time I took a step in the city of Tokyo: Coming from a hundred people town in the middle of nowhere in Tuscany’s countryside, walking in an endless city with huge skyscrapers and through thousands of people not even caring about your presence has been a fascinating yet confusing experience, and a huge impact under any aspect. I was so confused at first I didn’t even know if I liked all of that greatness surrounding me: After years of drooling on pictures and videos of this endless and beautiful city, I was finally there, alone with a feeling that couldn’t stop tricking my mind during the first three days in the Japanese capital.

But passion is way stronger than your mind’s tricks, and in a matter of days, also thanks to the company of a girl living there, everything disappeared in the blink of an eye. From that moment on, wether I was alone or not, I was genuinely happy and free like I have never been in my life before, despite all the people not even looking at you in the streets, the employees acting like robots, or a bartender talking to you for half an hour in Kirin City that you’ll never see again: In Tokyo you are never alone. Because if it’s not people who’s keeping you company, the City is always on your side to maintain that bond made of genuine love and appreciation. And while it’s surely beautiful to wander alone, the most fun is obviously when you’re with people sharing your same passions and interests, in hidden places that seem appositely made for you.

During Christmas Day on my second trip, after the final epic date of Perfume’s Dome Tour, I decided to go alone for dinner and then chill at the hotel for a while, to relax a moment and decide what to do later. But time passed, and at 1:00am, right before I was going to sleep, I received a message from a friend of mine who asked me to join him in a Perfume party in Shinjuku, just near my hotel. I accepted immediately saying “Fuck it, I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, dressed up, and in a minute I was out in the cold of the Tokyo night. Once I met with him, we reached the place where the party already started: It was an underground place, and after we entered and walked down the stairs, we reached a room with a bar, a small dance floor, and about fifteen people; There was a DJ playing Perfume’s songs and also videos on all the walls, for a pretty calm but cool atmosphere, but in just an half an hour the situation got way hotter as more DJs joined the party and the volume started to go high. Long story short, I ended up half drunk dancing with people I never knew, laughing and singing like there was no tomorrow, and as grand finale, most of them took positions and started dancing Akihabalove in perfect synchronization, and seeing them having so much fun and sharing the same passion and love for this group has been an exciting and wonderful sight: It’s pure and genuine fun, and yes, everything is full of love.

Another funny episode happened in a rock bar in Shibuya called Rockaholic, where you can sit down, have a drink and request songs to the DJ, while rock and metal music literally blast your ears. But probably due to the alcohol (it’s a constant, but never a necessity), around 11pm everyone is so drunk that the madness explodes and everyone just start to jump, cry and hug everyone, for whatever reason, but it’s so beautiful you don’t even want to wonder why. I went back there alone once and still had a blast, chatted with a girl for a while and failed in getting her twitter contact, literally drank and screamed like a mad man with the guys at the bar and knew an US army dude outside, where we talked about life and our futures.

I never saw all of these people again, but instead of being sad about it. I believe that’s what makes these experiences so special: Because while I’m here miles away from them writing alone in this room and aware they all probably forgot about me, they’re still part of the reason why I travel to Japan, wether I’m alone or not. Because little experiences make great memories when combined all together.

And while me and my friends are partying in underground bars, everyone above us is walking towards their homes, or to a host club, or feeling alone crying in a corner… But whatever those people are doing, we’re there, under all of them having the time of our lives. Like a world inside a world, like a secret place where to share our love and have fun, while the entire city outside keeps its eyes on everyone and takes care of us at the same time, like a mother with her child.

Not matter who you are or what you do, there’s always a place for you in this city. And it’s where no one can see you… Under the streets of Tokyo.

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♪  HiroyukiODA – Thirty

– Alex

The Dream and the Big Earthquake

578370_4933041721478_181843511_n– “Wouldn’t it be better if you could wait at least one year?”
– “Wait for what?”
– “To let things… get better. And avoid this radiations thing”
– “Sure, because radiations disappear in just one year? That’d be a pretty wonderful world”
– “Do whatever you want. I just warned you.”
– “Warned me with no idea of what you’re talking about. I’m going, alone. It’s my only chance”

It was March 11th 2011. Me and my father were discussing my future (now past) first trip to Japan while having dinner. With at least a dozen of friends behind telling me “Sure, I’ll join you!” and then leaving me alone as usual with the only dream I’ve ever had, I was angrier yet more convinced than ever to take the final step and face alone the first, real trip of my life.

But my rude words against my father, who said those things in an obvious (and normal, for a parent) state of anxiety, were hiding fear. The fear I saw in those images that morning on TV: Of homeless people searching for their loved ones, of a beautiful coast devastated by the Tsunami, of the fear of a way too dangerous nuclear plant, of the tears in the eyes of people that, no matter what, will never give up and will always rise up and shine brighter than before. I felt extremely bad, more than I could have ever expected. I cried alone in my room while watching news report videos on YouTube over and over again. I felt guilty, because I never reacted this way before or even cried when tragedies like this hit my country, and old piece of earth where a 5.0 magnitude is enough to destroy everything and kill an entire city. I was confused.

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But then I realized that it makes no sense to feel guilty. You can’t control feelings, and what really matters is what your heart feels, not what it “should” feel. With the Tohoku Earthquake tragedy, I felt like my heart was hit on a soft spot. My Secret Garden, the Wonderland I dreamed for so long, was heavily hit by one of the worst natural disasters the human being ever faced, and I never felt so close to it like that day. I was afraid to lose it.

After many days of confusional news on TV and uncertain statements by the authorities, I realized that nothing on earth could ever destroy the only dream I used to have. Not the people making promises they will never respect. Not the Tsunami. Not the radiations, nor the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Nothing.

But there were also considerations to make. After all, you can’t completely ignore such a tragedy. Many friends and people close to me were asking if it was dangerous to go there. My answer was always the same: “I don’t know. I don’t care”. I used to read many discussion on the Internet between people supporting the idea that “Japan was forever lost and it was extremely dangerous” and those who were trying to give scientific explanations to prove the opposite. They looked like senseless wars to me, and I never took a side in these discussion. I read, but never wrote a single word. I’m totally ignorant in these kind of arguments, and I’m definitely the last person on earth that can take part in such a discussion or even reach to a conclusion.

But after all, I didn’t need to. Because I already had my simple answer. I drink alcohol, that may give me cirrhosis when I’m old. I smoke cigarettes, which are a cancer guarantee. For five years, there’s been an illegal warehouse containing hundreds of toxic substances just 100 metres away from my home. And now I should be worried to go to Japan? Give me a break. I’m not that hypocrite. 

And so, on November 7th 2011 I took a plane for the first time and went to Japan alone, where I had the best experience of my life and collected the most beautiful memories I will ever remember until I’m alive. I won and realized my dream, the biggest satisfaction after a life full of delusions. I never felt so good before, not only for the trip itself, but also because with my vacation I gave a little contribute (exactly as any other tourist) to rebuild and make Japan shine brighter than before. And they appreciate it. For real. “We hope to see you again soon!” says a big sign at the Narita Airport, in the departure area. Reciprocal love.

There will never be another country in my life that deserves more love and passion than Japan. I love this country and I love this people, with their wonderful culture and beautiful controversies. And if this means taking a risk, I will show even more love.

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♪ Dream Fighter

– Alex

Of a walk in the dark streets of Yokosuka

IMG_1139 copiaOne of the main things I wanted to do in my last trip in Japan, that I couldn’t make during my first vacation, was to go to Yokosuka.

Just two stops away from the way more famous and beautiful Kamakura, this city is mainly known for the huge american naval base, whose presence highly influences the population of this little city and everything you can see around its streets.

But why Yokosuka? Is there anything special for a tourist here? Frankly, no. The reason I came here is because this the place where my favorite Videogame called Shenmue, from which I got part of my nickname, is placed. I wanted to come here not only to see the similarities between game and real life, but also because I felt I had to, for a personal feeling that I can’t exactly explain; I just had to do it.

The station is the endpoint of the Yokosuka line that begins at the Shinagawa station in Tokyo, and you can reach this city in about an hour. At my arrival at the very small station, the first thing I can notice is the huge naval base and the impressive number of ships, both American and Japanese. After a quick look in the station area, I wait for one of the several buses regularly stopping in front of the station and head towards the area of main interest, which is Dobuita Street, where all the main plot of the game takes place. After a 3 minutes ride, I finally reach the main entrance of the street under indications of the driver and start walking towards the entrance.

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It’s January 3rd, so almost all the shops in the streets are closed for national holiday, yet the atmosphere is all here. And just like in the game, it’s FULL of jackets and American/Japanese military clothes shops and everything combining both the western and oriental cultures. Walking in the street (it’s 4:30pm, still day) I can actually see more American militaries and western people than Japanese citizens; As I’ve already said, the influence of the base is extremely heavy in this city, including Empire State Building shaped lamppost and reproductions of the Statue of Liberty here and there. Even the symbol of Dobuita Street itself features both the U.S. and Japan flags together, like a sign of unity, which is undoubtedly a demonstration of the respect running between these two countries, leaving the past far behind.

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I walk towards the centre of the city, leaving the other direction leading to the Hill (where Ryo’s house is located in the game) as last destination. There are many pubs filled with piles of Asahi, Budweiser and lonely militaries, as many quiet American/Japanese couples walk towards the romantic seaside walk to fully enjoy their day off. I’m honestly impressed with the similarities of some streets and corners with the game, and as good nerd, I instantly feel like I’m inside the game: A new and exciting feeling that I honestly couldn’t wait to live.

I keep walking on and I reach the end of Dobuita Street in just five minutes. I take a look around the commercial area, visit a little but pretty nice music store, take a break in a Conbini drinking matcha latte and eating one of the fabulous Family Mart sandwiches (my personal drug), and then I’m ready to continue exploring the Dobuita zone, this time towards the Hill area.

In the game, Ryo lives in a beautiful traditional house at the top of the hill of Yokosuka, and that’s where I’m headed now. I already now there’s no house at the top of the hill (the game is set in 1986), but I bet the similarities will be a lot.

I walk all the way back in Dobuita Street, and just like in the game, as it gets darker, the true soul of this little city comes out: Sailors literally invade pubs and locals to drink (and probably get drunk), while bikers dressed in leather jackets with their Harley Davidson parked near the street gather together to talk about something I can’t possibly understand, as the weak Empire State Building lights shyly illuminate the street: It’s a very underground atmosphere, but I like these kind of situations, so I don’t mind at all. I finally reach the street leading to the Hill, now completely covered in darkness.

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“Do you know where sailors hang out?” (cit.)

The beginning of the HIll area.

The beginning of the HIll area.

As I walk up the hill, I can almost say this place looks like the Japanese version of the Favelas: Abandoned cars, empty houses, total silence, and a very intimidating atmosphere. There’s probably only some old couple living here but in all honesty, for the first time in Japan, I’m feeling pretty scared and unsafe. As I keep going up, I walk in front of what looks like an abandoned elementary school, some empty parkings and a couple of random guys talking that definitely give me a weird stare and stop talking as I walk in front of them: Where they dangerous people, or some evil bikers from hell sent by a Shinigami? No. They were normal guys. Because I’d have the same look on my face if a tourist shows up in my abandoned hometown, so I guess it’s absolutely legit and normal to behave like that. Just something to add to the atmosphere.

I finally reach the end of the street. I’m still not at the top of the Hill, but I can definitely recognize it: the street leading to Ryo’s house. There’s no traditional habitation at the end of it, but still I smile at the sight of it: It’s identical.

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View from the Hill.

View from the Hill.

The street leading to Ryo's house

The street leading to Ryo’s house

This is where Ryo's house should be.

This is where Ryo’s house should be.

I can say I’ve finally accomplished my mission: Visiting Yokosuka and being inside my favorite Videogame. I know this statement sound disturbing and extremely nerd-ish, but Shenmue has a very important meaning to me, even after all these years. Leaving aside the fact that it’s a masterpiece of a forgotten era, just like the message hidden in the game, it’s also been the sign of my personal transition from teenager to adult, a sweet yet melancholic revolution, the last witness of the thoughtless days that will never come back. When Japan was important, but not vital. When the future wasn’t scary, but exciting. And as Ryo will probably be in search of his father’s killer forever, I’ll never forget the emotions I lived in that summer when I played this game for the first time. Because every period of our lives is tied to a song, a band, a movie, a videogame, or anything that can leave an emotional trace inside us. 

I walk down the hill and go back to the station, waiting for the train that will bring me back to Tokyo, in my beloved Shinjuku. There’s a shivering wind. A young Japanese mother plays with her little son, smiling as he joyfully laughs at her funny expressions. The train finally arrives, and I take a seat near the entrance. For one day, I lived in the border between reality and imagination, where my present and past meet and face each other, where my real life and the one inside my head collide.

Maybe I’m going too far with this. I close my eyes and put my headphones on. I’m still inside my world after all, still in Japan. As the lights quickly appear and disappear outside, I fall asleep on the notes of Echoes.

♪ Pink Floyd – Echoes

– Alex

Of Wonderful Memories: Remember that night at Tokyo Dome

lfA couple of days ago the well known private Japanese TV WOWOW broadcasted a good part of Perfume’s Tokyo Dome concert I attended last December in Japan, and thanks to the fans that fragmented the video and uploaded it on YouTube, I had the chance to watch again what has been the biggest concert I’ve ever attended, and also one of the most unforgettable events of my life.

Seeing the Enter the Sphere (extended mix) intro once again, the girls walking at the top of the sphere, all the crazy lights and lasers work, the crowd going completely insane to the Party Maker drop, and the wonderful Dreamland performance with the final walk towards the sphere, is something that made me completely realize how this show has been something of great importance, not only for the fans, but also for the girls themselves; This was one of the best Perfume concerts ever held, without a shade of doubt, and I feel lucky to had the chance to attend it twice.

The first time I attended a Perfume show was last summer during the Perfume World Tour 2nd, and while I had a total blast during that wonderful time in Paris, my memories after that event have always been pretty much confused and “misty”. It’s weird, cause I remember everything perfectly, but it feels like it’s been only a dream when I think about it. I felt the same after my first trip in Japan in 2011, and I’ve understood after some time that all of this is caused by the excitement for something that I have waited for a long time, and that finally became true. But this time everything was sharp and clear, even the memories. I remember exactly all the feelings felt in every part of the concert, and living them again through these videos makes me extremely happy. It’s the proof of having lived an event of huge proportions in my favorite place, with the people I love.

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I feel so proud. Not of myself, anyone can do what I and many other fans did, you just have to want it. I’m proud of these girls. For being so incredibly amazing, for giving one of the most professional, spectacular, and technologically advanced shows of the world, and for being extremely talented yet normal and down to earth girls. I spent half of my life complaining because I couldn’t see my favorite bands live, cause most of them were from the 70s, or because they were not the same group anymore, or simply because I didn’t honestly had the balls to buy a plane ticket and go to a show.

But all of this doesn’t exist anymore. I can finally say I saw my favorite group live, at the top of their success and at the best of their shape, performing their most epic show ever.

For once, and just once, I wish I could meet these girls to hold their hands and say “Thank you”. Thank you for everything they did for me, even if I’m just a little dot in a sea of 3D scanned fans, even if they never and probably will never see my face or know what I did and still do to spread their love and music as much as I can. They did to me more than anyone in my life did. They revolutionized the course of it, triggered the change I needed at the right time, and everything that arrived after has been just a wonderful collection of memories that enriched my life: Travels, friends, girls, feelings, happiness, delusions, airports, waitings, izakaya, beer, laughters, neon lights, skyscrapers and more and more.

It’s not blind devotion to a random group or a thought by someone who desperately needs a life. It’s a honest and true feeling I feel towards these girls.

I will be with them until the end, no matter what. It’s the best I can do to show them my gratitude.

– Alex