Xiu Xiu diary from the Tom Lab Records Japanese Tour
written by Jamie Stewart

Bands on this tour-
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (USA)
Fonica  (JAPAN)
Yoshio Machida (JAPAN)
Xiu Xiu (USA)

Tour Manager-
Hirotaka Iwatsuki (JAPAN)

Tom Lab Records-
Tom Steinle (GERMANY)

Oct. 18

Owen (from Casiotone) and I took pictures of each-other in the San Francisco International Airport holding an apple. Why am I getting so sweaty? They almost confiscated my rubbing alcohol that I use for deodorant. Under the pretense that it could be used to start a fire but because it was 70% alcohol it was ok but that was decided upon after much deliberation by airport security. I called CM said I LOVE YOU!

Sleeping on the plane I had a dream that a woman named Rosario mailed a $3800 mountain bike to my girlfriend's mom's house as a gift for me. In the dream I was really frightened by it because I didn't know who she was and thought I was being bike stalked.

The woman sleeping in front of me reached behind her seat and violently closed the blind on the window while I was looking out it.

So then we flew and flew and flew and waited and waited and waited in a LONG passport line with no problems sneaking in T-shirts to sell then we rode a long long long bus ride to Shinjuku station to meet Iwatsuki, Tom and Kaz from P-Vine the Japanese distributor of Tom Lab stuff. I tried really hard to figure out how to use a calling card but am not smart enough yet. I got very frustrated but then I took a puppet that was lying in the gutter and started talking to it and then I felt better.

It just hit me that Owen and I are in a different country and a little spark lit up in my heart. Very exciting.

I keeping having this super weird urge to grab people's hair. This is a totally new experience.

There was food in a blue tent. What is it? Who cares?!?!

We all went to dinner and ate Japanese food. I met real life Tom, who prior to that, I had only communicated with via email.  He already rules. After dinner we saw a teen aged girl in a nurse outfit that was splattered with blood and had "Fuck the System" written all over it.

Oct. 19

Last night we slept (like LOGZ) at YoYo's house who is friends with Tom and Rob Fisk (Free Porcupine Society records, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle, ex-deerhoof) . Her house is so beautiful. Her mom made us breakfast and her whole family was ultra generous with their space. We all went to the train together and this boy she like named Kobayashi disappeared. We met Iwatsuki there and he was nice enough to take Owen and me around Tokyo.

We went to an anime porn store that was playing really really loud death metal.  
Pachinko is for business people and seniors.  
There was a guy with a sign around his neck that said "Don't believe people. They will betray you."  
The snotty bunny is the logo for a corporate English language school.  
There are several different railway companies/lines and they all own department stores.  
We ate traditional desserts that were made of beans and seaweed. A very new flavor for me and it was all colors.

Iwatsuki and I talked politics, music, sex and food. He took us to his tiny apartment where Tom was waiting for us after BIZ meetings. He shares it with a woman named Rumy (which is pronounced Roomie which in English is slang for roommate. I told her this little joke and she said "I understand what you are saying, it is just not that funny."

Later that night went to a dinner and then ate purple taro root cake and met Keiichi from Fonica.

On the train a drunk business guy kept asking me about baseball and his friend kept elbowing him in the mouth really hard until he started bleeding. This was to try to get him to shut up and he tried to wipe the blood off on YoYo's white pants.

Oct. 20

Tom and Owen and I went to this museum book store that sells ambient records that Tom Lab puts out. It is in the most expensive mall I have ever been inside of. It is underground and has samples of the best chocolate I have ever eaten. After Tom's meeting I urge him to try some but he only says "Oh yes French style." There was a melon for sale that was $120 and there was a plastic chestnut that I wanted to steal so bad it made me feel weird. I never asked if people shoplift a lot at this mall. It would make sense considering how much fruit costs.

We walked around the train station for ever and I could feel the muscles in my legs growing as I was carrying all my luggage. We eventually met up with YoYo and went to her gallery which was showing a remarkable textile exhibition. She showed me that one of the shirts that was part of the show was printed with the images from the  poster for the Xiu Xiu record "Fag Patrol". Needless to say I was very surprised and excited because they did such a stunning job on it.

Then the party for the tour. It was very slow and very pretty. YoYo and I got drunk and played air DJ and talked about who we are in love with.

Then to Yoshio's!

Then Owen's watch broke.


On the very very long train ride to Yoshio's it blew my mind how peaceful everyone was. Also I was drunk. We got to Yoshio and Makiko's apartment in Chonfu, a suburb outside of Tokyo where we will sleep as space is limited all over the world. Their cats are named Yanko Sensei and Konyanko.

Oct. 21

We all got up to drive to the 1st show in Nagoya. Yoshio made sure I did not die.

Iwatsuki rented a van for Tom, himself, Keiichi, Cheason (both on Fonica), Yoshio, Owen and I to go to the show in. We drove through the country. It is dense and dark green.

We played at this very chic 1/2 fashion 1/2 hip hop culture cafe art space called S4 that is in the middle of an expensive sex district. Lots of really really tall women with long blond hair exiting hotels waving groups of business men good night.

Up until right before we played there was no one there and then suddenly it was full. Yoshio played processed steel drums and made a sound that was like forever !!!!!!!!! of KISS (A+), Fonica played dreamy lap top compositions (A+) I had never heard either band before this night and was touched and impressed. Tom DJed a great set and played the Xiu Xiu cover of "Ceremony"  which was funny to hear not expecting it. FLATTERED!  YA'LL!

My friend, whose band had toured Japan a bunch of times, told me that Lawson's convenience store is the place for cheap eats and that is true. The walk to it was only a block away but I still got lost and was worried how I would ever get home. The streets were wide and immaculate. Culturally it is rude to eat outside in Japan and for some reason that made me really nervous.

We drove to Iwatsuki's parents house which looks like it is from a ninja movie. The walls have sparkles imbedded in them and there are rice paper sliding doors and tatami mats and ceramics everywhere. His family is famous for making high grade sake in a small quantities and the plant in within the grounds of the house. His family had laid futons out for everyone within this huge room decorated museum quality calligraphy and statues.

Oct. 22

In the morning his mother laid out an amazing formal breakfast for everyone. Asparagus, fish, miso soup, rice, salt plums, radishes and fermented soy beans which, not knowing if it was OK to refuse food items, I ate and then everyone laughed and said they never eat them because they are nasty.

Everything is very much like a dream right now, a dream in which you want to behave.

Just a note, people's fashion sense here is mostly so thoughtfully put together. They looks so good. You want to fuck everyone. But you want them to stay dressed.

We visited the shogun's temple and all of the shrines of the shoguns are in a row and are the height of the actual shoguns themselves. The tallest one was 160 cm and the shortest was 124cm.

The truck stop rest rooms are wood paneled, totally clean and ultra modern with automatic everything. This sort of place would last about 10 seconds in the United States. It is so striking that people do not seem worried about shit getting fucked here which makes everything feel careful.

We got to the Tony Persian Rich Inn in Kyoto after driving thorough bamboo forests and small villages. The ice flavored air is dazzling clean. We ate at a famous soba noodle restaurant and went to a tiny experimental record store located in the back of the venue. We all sat around and drank 2 premium bottles of sake that Iwatsuki's parents gave us. One was made of the a small portion of the rice and the other was made from the whole rice grain and they were distinctly flavored. SO MUCH WINE, EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC, AND SONG.

We got saked up and talked about ghosts, superstitions, curse gestures, political parties, teen age music, purple donuts, squid and chocolate. I need to lose 5 pounds.

Everyone wanted to go to bed but I wasn't tired and all the men were in the same room so I went out into the hall to read and at the same time could hear Fonica quietly practicing, Owen snoring and this woman in pink pajama walking by me like 6 times and making tiny startled whimpers every time she passed.


Oct 23

Kyoto seems like a nice place to live. Navigable but bustling, normal but hard to understand. It is  the original capital and the architecture is a from every point in history it seems.

Buddhist funerals, Christian weddings and Shinto daily thought and worship.

The wish tree... THINK OF IT!!!!!!!!

At the restaurant they sold helium in hair moose type containers made expressly to inhale and make your voice squeaky.

Johnny's Jr. is a record label and finishing school for pre-teen boys to become teen pop stars. This label, so I was told by 2 different people at 2 different times, is run out of this huge compound where all these boys move to when they are like 10 and live and grow up there in order to become schooled in the pop arts. However the school is funded by the extreme right wing of the government and by the yakuza and all the songs that the boy bands sing are ultra nationalistic. Also Johnny is a known pedophile and it is rumored that he molests the boys as they are basically the wards of his massive company. His label apparently controls a tremendous chunk of the Japanese music market and is moving all over Asia. They also have stores all over Japan where there are photos of the boys that you can buy. They are in all stages of development, professionally and physically.

The venue was called Cafe Independants and was FANTASTIC inside. It looked like a bombed Paris but with mosaics. It sounded spectacular inside the room, cement and wood, reverberous but warm. (YEAH TO THE DORKS!!!!!) The show was much excellent, everyone was ON ON ON!!! The audience did not clap after Owen's first song nor mine which was either austere or odd. Fonica was particularly great, at ease and heart shaped.

German Tom DJed South and North American Devendra Banhart in Kyoto Japan, oh the world is so teeny tiny and can be number one at times.

There was a gallery where Tom and I had a sweet moment looking at bat dolls and a creepy mannequin with whiter than white skin.

There was a shirt that said "no fucking" on it and a dude from Philadelphia living in Kyoto studying aesthetics.

Cafe Independants had a cool spell until they paid Iwatsuki, turned the lights on and then made Tom stop DJing and then they put on bullshit, fake Latin music and terrible Neil Young (?!) 

We drove back to Tokyo 7 hours through the night back to Yoshio and Makiko's house. They are the best, both so gracious and fun. Yoshio is also a visual artists and has toured Eastern Europe. Makiko is a make up artist.

The motorcycle gangs are fascist and attach huge dragon wings and necks and heads to their motorbikes.

Oct 24

Because there is so little extra room in Japan bike racks are 2 levels high and sock clothes lines are also 2 levels high.

Cheason from Fonica is allergic to carrots.

Aretha Franklin was on the tape deck driving through traffic in suburban Tokyo. We all, obviously, sang all the WA HOO! parts.

People are really into Halloween. I asked Yashio if he thought it was lame that a fake American holiday had invaded Japan and he said, "Well no, children have a lot of fun."

Ping Pong dash is the same thing as ding dong ditch.

The Japanese band Cockc'nell is crucial to Japanese modern rock musical development and history.

There are no more "fruits" in the Harajuka district and only a few mega goths. Tom and Makiko were very surprised and wondered where they all went.

The show at Super Deluxe went very very well . The space is used for fashion, art and music shows and is huge by Japanese standards. It is the most beautiful and thoughtfully designed room I have ever been in. The women's bathroom is like an art installation made by the originators of the colors orange and pink. One of the bands that played, a woman named Kazumi, will, just by chance, also be playing with Xiu Xiu in Seattle 10 days after this show. Owen and I played a song together. Fonica played their longest, best set.

Satomi from Deerhoof just happened to be on Tokyo visiting and was at the show. SURPRISE!

There was a huge bean bag, bigger than a king sized bed surrounded by a white curtain that is for "Big Stars" to sit and relax in.

After the show 100,000 people went together to a marriage restaurant. On the walls were tons of vaginas, butt holes and penises and a huge gong shaped like a vagina and with the knocker shaped like a huge penis. One of the foods was blue peppers which I just assumed meant like bell pepper not hot chili pepper. Anyway, it is the spiciest thing I have ever eaten. It hurt for almost and hour. Owen and Iwatsuki ate them too and REGRETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! all around the world.

Tom and Owen and I stayed up all night talking about music and then had a bath in a tub that was at least 2 meters by 6 meters. It was HEAVEN.

We saw the Peter Seville art exhibition and it was almost jarring to see a lot of the original plates and items used in the album covers.

Makiko and Yoshio made the best dinner EVER. Everyone from the tour talked and drank and laughed and were what humans are when they are good. The sweetest good bye to everyone.

Oct. 25

Almost missed the plane home from looking at too many articles on cats, naked people, North Korean nuclear proliferation and the history of design. Then I got HELL OF searched and that made me even more late. Sweat poured out of my pores. Beginning with sweat and ending with it.


/dec 12th 2003/