Road to new album recording, Japan. 2020, Day 1

Day 1

On February 24, 2020, my Japanese band and I embarked on a journey to record a new album. After being dropped off at Schiphol airport by my management (my dad), I cleared customs and checked in my luggage. To pass the 10 hour and 15 minute flight, I planned to watch 5 movies.
Arriving at Narita airport was always a pleasant experience, with its calm atmosphere. After passing passport control, my sax player and friend Yuichiro Tokuda greeted me in arrival hall 1. We celebrated my safe arrival in Japan with sushi and were surprised by a fan who invited me to a hot spring (Onsen) nearby. I agreed to meet later so I could have sushi with Yuichiro first. On the way, I picked up a pocket Wi-Fi to stay connected. After great sushi and conversation with Yuichiro, I took a mini bus to the Onsen, which took about 15 minutes. I would see him again on the first recording day in Nagoya.
It was very nice to wash and relax at the hot spring, together with some other Japanese men I tried to follow their lead on how to do it the correct way. Although I have been in these kind of places before it still somewhat strange to me. After this refreshing time at the Onsen I said my goodby to the lovely lady that had arranged this Onsen visit and I took the Sky liner train to Ueno station in Tokyo. My hotel was in Asakusa not far from Ueno and took me just 1 metro to get there.
Before I would go to my hotel I had an appointment to meet up with a Jazz singer from Holland, Sophie de Hart.
I was contacted by her a while back, and she had some inquiries about Japan’s jazz culture. It was delightful to finally meet her in person, and we went to a nearby bar near Ueno station for some drinks and food. I suggested that she check out the jam sessions at Intro, a small jazz club near Takadanobaba, which is a popular spot for young jazz musicians to hone their skills. The club is located in a bustling part of Tokyo where many young people reside and study.
After we had a few drinks and talked about Japan, I headed to the metro station to go to my hotel in Asakusa. It was a quick 4-stop ride on the metro line to the hotel. The hotel was lovely, clean, and conveniently located near some of the city’s hottest spots, including a large temple and the Tokyo Sky tree.
After checking into the Hokke Club Asakusa, I went outside for some late-night shopping at a nearby convenience store. It’s always an exciting experience in Japan, as the quality of goods is exceptional, and the prices are very reasonable. After this late-night snack, I retired for the night.