A Week in Tokyo

I did some traveling for work recently, but without the motorcycle.

On Saturday November 5th, after three weeks travelling cross-country on the K75, I flew home from Providence to Olympia, and promptly headed to the office to pack up video camera gear. The next morning it was straight back to the airport for a long 14-hour flight to Tokyo where I’d work for a few days shooting behind-the-scenes video for the Classic Rock Music Awards which took place at the Ryōgoku Kokugikan sumo arena on Friday 11/11.

I arrived in Tokyo at about midnight on Monday, took a short train ride from the airport with my producer, then a cab, checked-in at the Marriott Ginza, and had Tuesday morning free to wander around downtown Tokyo. The cab drivers we found in Tokyo did not speak any English and communicating our destinations was a little problematic. We tried to show them addresses on the smartphone but I suspect they had trouble reading the small displays.

Later in the afternoon on Tuesday, my producer and I visited the recording studio where the house band for Friday’s show was rehearsing.  Mostly we just hung out so that the musicians could get used to us. We’d come back the following day with cameras and we were hoping they’d let us get up close and comfortable.

Phil Collen (Def Leppard) rehearses with Ray Luzier, Dean Deleo, Robert Deleo, Ray Luzier and Tommy Henrickson.

After breakfast at the hotel on Wednesday morning I wandered around Ginza, a popular upscale shopping area of Tokyo, and then southeast towards Tokyo Bay. Downtown was clean, organized and not as crowded as I expect it to be.

Honda moped in Tokyo.
Honda Benly CD90 in Tokyo.

“Tokyo, February 20, 1998 — Honda Motor Co., Ltd. has announced the launch, on March 20, of the new, improved Benly CD50/CD90 business bikes with specially toughened “Tuff-up” tire inner tubes to minimize the risk of punctures now fitted as standard. With their 4-cycle OHC single-cylinder engines, which provide plenty of power at lower and medium revs to give a very smooth ride, these bikes have sold well in Japan for many years.”

Near Tokyo Bay
Near Tokyo Bay

On Wednesday afternoon it was back to the recording studio / rehearsal space, this time with cameras and audio in-tow. We filmed a string of visiting musicians who had come to rehearse with the house band. Jeff Keith, Frank Hannon and Brian Wheat (Tesla), then Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) and finally Johnny Depp. We finished the day with an amazing traditional sushi meal in a basement restaurant hidden on a dark, downtown street thanks to the executive producer.

On Thursday morning I took a short walk down to the famous Tsukiji fish market. I brought my Fuji XE2s still photo camera and a 14mm lens, but after seeing all the hustle and coordinated chaos in the market I decided to shoot video, something the Fuji camera does not do very well.

On Thursday afternoon we loaded-in to the sumo arena location where we’re be for the rest of our visit. I shot behind-the-scenes video of the bands practicing and setting up on stage.

On Friday morning, even though I didn’t have very much free time and it was pouring rain,  I decided to head back to the fish market to shoot a few stills.

Turret truck at the Tsukiji fish market
Tsukiji Fish Market

I got soaked down to my skivvies in no time, but fortunately the camera gear was not affected.

The market is an amazing place. The hustle and bustle is unending. Ideally the best time to visit would be at sunrise near the summer solstice. All the real action happens very early in the morning, and by 10am things have quieted down.

The rest of the day Friday was spent shooting video back at the sumo arena. Sound checks, red carpet shots, backstage interviews, but mostly I just wandered around trying to capture moments with the old rockers having a good time.

During the show on Friday night I spent most of the time on stage behind the drummer and guitar amps filming towards the audience.

Caught shooting behind Johnny Depp’s guitar amp.

Took the 10am bus from the hotel to the airport.

Got to the airport early on Saturday morning and had enough time for a good ol’ American waffle breakfast from Tully’s! It was actually kind of gross. The waffle felt like a kitchen sponge and the whipped cream was unnatural. On the other hand, I flew Asiana Airlines round trip to Tokyo and the Korean meals onboard were fantastic.

The icing on the cake was a trip back in time!
I departed Tokyo at 2pm on Saturday and arrived in Seattle two hours earlier that same day!