Story of Miu 9
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Story of Miu 10
The Moon Stomp in Koenji is smaller than most American kitchens, and it really does have a kitchen, where sweet-smelling pizza and hot spicy curry are getting cooked up, but what’s really cooking is the music.
Miu wanted me to come and hear her play with Yuga’s band.
I’m trying not to expect too much, but I need not have worried.
Descend from the streets into that tiny smoke-filled club, packed with kids in hats and T-shirts, and the music there is so feel-good, giggles-provoking and harmonious Japanese-style it’s like soaking in sudsy lukewarm tub water.
Admission is 2,500 yen for an all-you-can-eat meal-included evening of music.
Merrychan is a trio that performs original Japanese-language versions of Cuban and other Latin music.
Hearing Japanese sung and yelled in Latin fashion is somehow funnier than you’d think. Speak about identity crisis and parodying Japan’s imitative modern music scene!
See how “Gerohaita! (He barfed!)” almost sounds Spanish? It’s that wit in not taking oneself too seriously that makes these musicians rise above their otherwise proficient but pretty hunkydory (I mean, how could a bunch of Japanese kids beat Los Van Van?) musicianship to something unique, and something definitely entertaining.
No wonder the crowd (of about 30, half of them members of the other performing bands) is ecstatic.
Funyakotsu-ting was a geeky looking pudgy guy with glasses and a T-shirt with a picture of a donkey that said in English: “Bad Ass.” He sang, narrated tales and even performed karaoke with a guitar.
A far cry from a demonstration of musical technique or artistic message, the almost-freak-show “otaku” performance still exudes a strange utterly disarming charm.
Several fans sat in the front row with multicolored light-sticks and swayed them in time to the music on one tune like they were at a Budokan rock concert.
Most straight-ahead but just as hippie-spiritied was Cigarette She Was, a folk/pop band led by guitar-strumming singer Teruyuki Kawabata. The groups were selling their CDs for something like 200 yen, the equivalent of $1.50.
Yuga plays kpanlogo in this band, his deep eyes _ those that Miu says look like those of an elephant _ buried in his long black hair as he plays with quiet concentration. He is sometimes so serious his upper lip seems to curl up in a haughty snarl.
Miu is so happy she can barely sit still as she jumps around, shaking a wooden stick covered with jangling bells.
I sit in one of the front seats surrounded by the cuddly noises and the warm smell of food and forget all thoughts.
It’s a numbing feeling of thoughtless and humble satisfaction.
Who would have imagined that just a couple of months later Miu would break up with Yuga?
They are so young maybe it was to be expected.
She says it started with a quarrel about how to play a musical phrase in a rehearsal in their tiny apartment.
But when she shouted back, he slapped her then pushed her down on the tatami mat.
“I almost hit my head on the corner of his desk,” Miu tells me, horrified.
She has to move out immediately, and so I have to go pick her up in our car.
Perhaps hoping to stop her from leaving, Yuga told her that he couldn’t end the painful cycle of violence: He was beaten as a child while he was growing up.
His parent were very strict with him because he was an only child and they had such great hopes for him.
He was the kind of kid who couldn’t even ask for a toy.
The parents would spank him and beat him and kick him and push him out, even in the winter, naked out into the backyard, although he screamed and stamped his little feet and cried as though his little lungs will tear into pieces.
But sometimes, when he feels that rage burn inside him, he is still that kid, and he can’t stop himself when he wants it set things right and he must hit that person in front of him whom he loves so dearly yet who is acting in a way that he despises.
“It’s totally messed up,” Miu says. “He says he can’t forgive his father, but I am not going to forgive him.”
It is a sad end to a totally peaceful, hippie story of young love and brainlessly joyous music.
Or so I thought _ except that wasn’t the end at all.
Story of Miu 9