December 27, 2003

Hi everybody. We’re back after a super-excellent tour of Japan. Our trip started with our first-ever visit to Fukuoka, home of the 2003 Nippon Series baseball champs Daiei Hawks and the occasionally lethal fugu. We were unable to convince Toshiya Sugiuchi to come to our concert, nor could we find the time to visit the Cross Beat bar, but we did live out another Simpsons fantasy with a delightful fugu dinner. Next up: clown college!

After Fukuoka we headed for Nagoya where we first heard our tour theme song. It’s only just now occurring to us that the reason we heard so much Christmas music in Japan was that we only stopped shopping to eat and rock. The most curious seasonal selection we encountered was a medley of Christmas songs arranged in the form of a Beatles medley. It was annoying the first time we heard it, we heard it incessantly, and have yet to find anyone else who knows what we’re talking about, and this includes everyone at our concerts and a search engine called Google. Nagoya is looking forward to their Exposition of Global Harmony, taking place next year, and after one look at the expo’s spokesguys, so were we.

Next stop Osaka. When we told Gil, our lovable but food-wary guitar tech, that we would be eating pancakes for dinner that night, he thought he was finally about to encounter some Japanese food he could eat that didn’t have a Mc in its name. That was before a live shrimp was tossed on the grill, and our tasty okonomiyaki was placed before us. Luckily for Gil, there was also steak on the menu.

Finally, we arrived in Tokyo. As in any big city, meeting celebrities was high on our must-do list. We met Yoshitomo Nara at our first show at Club Quattro and attended his gallery opening for The Good, The Bad, the Average… And Unique. And then imagine our shock when we happened upon one of the great military minds of our generation. Individually we spent so much time at this one noodle shop in Shibuya they named a dish after us. At our last show, we got into the Christmas spirit, all dressing up as Santa Claus to perform "Rock N Roll Santa" (sorry, no photo available)….

We interrupt this travelogue to deliver the sad news that for the benefit of you last-minute gift shoppers, we have no more copies of Merry Christmas from Yo La Tengo.

Finally, it was time to go home. We went our separate ways: Georgia and Ira on a fruitless search of Narita for the Kazuo Matsui press conference; James had a much more successful visit to his ancestral home.

Now that we’re back, we’ll either see you at the Onion party or New Year’s Eve at Maxwell’s or in 2004.

happy holidays,