missive 4: rave
|Rainbow 2000, Mt. Fuji
Saturday morning i left Kyoto for the slopes of Mt. Fuji, to go to an event called Rainbow 2000. This event was billed as something like a rave - but it simply too large to fit that description - more like a mega-event with a rave theme. 3 huge sound systems, 24 DJs, from 5PM Saturday to noon Sunday. They expected 18,000 people, but rumor has it that 30,000 actually showed up.
I took a train to Mishima station, and waited there with a group of Japanese rave kids for a bus to shuttle us up to the site. The sky was ominous and threatening to rain, and it looked even more dark and scary in the direction of Fuji, which was completely hidden by nearly black clouds.
As the bus started it's hour-long climb up the mountain, it got wetter and wetter. First we hit incredibly thick fog, then fog plus strong winds, then fog, wind, and driving rain. There was a lot of nervous chatter in Japanese on the bus about how cold it might be! I learned the words for fog (kiri) and windy (kaze-tsuori). A bright side to everthing!
Fortunately, when we arrived, it was back to just fog and wind, and it really wasn't that cold. The fog was so thick, though, that there would certainly be no way to see the stage, and finding ones way around what proved to be a massive area was nearly impossible. Especially when dark set in! Really killer trance was carried on the wind from somewhere out there in the fog, so we all paid (around us$70) and set out in search of the first soundsystem.
The site was a place called "nihon-rando" (japan-land) which was like a massive (think Disneyland) theme park for kids - handed over to thousands of ravers for one weekend. Fortunately, this meant that there were plenty of semi-dry buildings and restaurants going all night.
It was truly incredible dancing with a crowd of thousands of japanese(probably less than 3% gaijin) who were completely undeterred by the elements. When the driving fog occasionally turned to raindrops, the whole crowd would break out cheering the rain as yet another degree of intensity of the experience.
Eventually, cold and soggy, i found a dry circular room with tatami mats and acoustic musicians (dulcimer, mandolin, koto?) doing some ambient backdrop. I rested, ate some hot food, found some friends, danced a few more hours at the killer drum-n-bass soundsystem, slept from 1AM to 5AM, then went back out at early dawn to the "rainbow ground", the psychedelic trance area. An awesome japanese DJ named Tsuyoshi spun for 4 straight hours, the wind still howled and the fog was inpenetrable, and the crowd still didn't show any signs of tiredness or diminished enthusiasm. I finally found my friend Aix, who was stationed near the staff teepee and served sliced oranges to us as we danced in the mud to the righteously heavy beat.
I had my bag (which turned out to be water-resistant!) and new MiniDisc recorder with me, so key moments of the whole experience, as well as 74 minutes of Tsuyoshi's set, got captured in digital stereo as i walked around. I also took pictures that will go up on the web as soon as i get back to the US. I got a lot of intrigued looks from walking around speaking into a microphone..
One of the high points of the evening was discovering a truly delightfully bewildering example of "japanese english" on a curry vending machine, in large print:
That same day i made my way to Tokyo, wandered around Shinjuku tired and muddy, and crashed at the animation rendering office of a friend of Aix's - but that's another story and this missive has gotten too long already.
Hugs to everyone back home, where i'll be fairly soon,
P.S. Tsuyoshi will be playing some rave in the bay area soon.