The Marunouchi area has more than 300 restaurants. This month we report on Bistro Double, which just opened in March 2012.
Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of being a rock singer and performing before a live audience in America, the home of rock music. But I never imagined this dream would come true at the age of 50. Last year, I stood on American soil as vocalist of the band ZAMZA, which debuted in 2009. It just shows that you should never give up on your dreams, no matter how old you are!
I was 25 when I first entered the music scene in a band called Echoes. We went to New York and did a photo shoot on the streets of the city, but we weren’t too proficient, definitely not good enough to do a live performance. Twenty-five years later and the rock brat I once was is now all of 50―an age at which people usually start thinking about retirement (laughs). But I had a go at it and, believe me, I was the first one to be surprised that I could actually pull it off!
Manhattan has a mid-size venue called Webster Hall. It’s pretty famous; even artists like Prince do shows there. The day before we performed at Webster Hall, we did Maxwell’s in New Jersey, which is where you see Frank Sinatra and the like performing. Oh, and even Bruce Springsteen! In terms of Japan, you might say New Jersey is to Omiya in Saitama, what Manhattan is to Roppongi in Tokyo. The crowds are different too. But still, both places were America to me. Those rock fans stood there staring at us with a beer in one hand, just as if they were watching a Yankees game. At first, they seemed a bit under-whelmed by the fact we’d come from Japan, but as the show progressed, they got more and more into it. By the second half, there were big white guys punching their fists about in the air (It was pretty amusing to see all the Japanese guests bunched together in the front row getting swamped by these guys). It was like a buffalo stampede. What an amazing experience. I don’t mean to compare myself to Japanese baseball players in America, but when I imagined Ichiro, Matsui and the others always playing to a crowd like that, it gave me a thrill of excitement.
We’ve all been playing in bands for thirty years, but this was really an outstanding experience. We sold out our supply of Manga Rock albums that we took with us to the U.S. (This album is available from Amazon in America. All songs are in English and Cyndi Lauper’s sound engineer did the mixing). ZAMZA hasn’t produced any big results as a band yet, but when we sold all those CDs I felt like a load had been taken off my shoulders―a real sense of achievement. When I think about the time I’ve got left, I sometimes feel uncertain about how long I can keep going with the band. I think loud rock might well be beyond me when I’m 60. But I do things my way, and I at least try before I give up on something. People might laugh and tell me to stop because I’m too old, but…I just keep trying, and don’t worry too much about age.
Come to think of it, what about The Rolling Stones―they’re already in their mid-60s. Compared to them we’re still spring chickens. And since we’re spring chickens, there’s nothing to fear, is there?
Right now, we’re all excited about doing an America-wide tour next year. When we decided to do it, I believe it was already the first step on the road toward realizing our dreams. I wonder how old I have to be before I stop taking new steps…
Hitonari Tsuji became a professional writer after winning the 13th Subaru Prize for Literature. He went on to win the 116th Akutagawa Award for Kaikyo no hikari (Lights in the straits). In 1999, Le Bouddha Blanc, a French translation of his novel Hakubutsu (The white Buddha), won the Prix Femina Étranger, the French literary award for foreign novels; Tsuji was the first Japanese ever to win this prize. His novel Ugan (Right bank), published in 2008 in collaboration with novelist Kaori Ekuni’s Sagan (Left bank), generated much public interest. He is also vocalist for the loud rock band Zamza N’Banshee, which he formed in the same year. He has been based in Paris since 2003, exercising his various talents in Japan and around Europe.
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