After landing in Japan and a jet lagged night of sleeping, the group sets off for their first concert. If you haven’t read the introduction yet, start at the beginning of the tour!
Day 2 – All about the kids: We met the bus to our first venue early in the morning. Because there was supposedly a small tunnel at the on the trip, the tour organizer found a tiny bus to get us there. One small downside to the tiny bus, however, was the lack of cargo space under the bus. Somehow we had to transport all of our bells, foam, and equipment to the venue. After much hauling and careful packing we were able to squeeze all of us and our equipment into the bus. The hotel valet staff thought we were crazy.
I had heard the venues we perform at in Japan were amazing, but this first venue was stunning. Toin Symphony Hall in Yokohama was beautiful. The walls of the hall shimmered as they flowed upwards, turning into balcony after balcony before reaching the ceiling far above the stage. A giant white sound shell enveloped the stage, making every bell sound crisp and clean.
I couldn’t gawk long, however, because there was work to be done. Once you get past the Japan part, touring internationally is the same as touring at home. Getting the stage set and warming up is the same as always. There are plenty of logistics to work out and set up to do, and before we knew it we were kicked off stage so they could open the house. We all went back to the dressing rooms and did our usual pre-concert routine.
At 10:55 we all gathered backstage. The show was scheduled to start at 11, and we could hear the chatter of an audience. We were told this would be a school group, but it certainly didn’t sound like a school group. When the pre-show announcement sounded, the entire concert hall quieted down and stayed silent. They sat there in silence for several minutes, until right at the stroke of 11 the house lights went down and the door opened for us to walk on stage. I was definitely not ready for what I saw when I entered.
1,000 elementary and middle school students sat staring at us. Each of them wore a matching uniform and every single one was wearing a face mask. The sight took me aback for a moment. It was hard not to stare out at the unusual view. Since it was a school show we only played for 45 minutes, and the time went by in a flash. Not a single word was spoken from the stage during the entire show, and at the end we bowed and stayed on stage so the kids could come see the bells. We do a “petting zoo” after every concert for the audience, but I’ve never done one this massive. Every single kid filed past us to play the bells. The “petting zoo” took nearly as long as the concert while the kids gave everyone one of our bells a good work out. Striking the gong was of course the favorite part of the experience. After the show we packed up and squeezed ourselves back into the tiny bus again.
By the time we got back to the hotel at 14:30 (everyone tells time in military time in Japan) we were starving because most of us hadn’t eaten since breakfast. Like a pack of lions we headed to the train station to find food. My half of the group found an Italian place and had some quasi-authentic pasta and pizza. While we were sitting at dinner, Tess made a comment about trying to go see Tokyo Disney. It was still early in the afternoon and we could catch a train out to the park by the time cheap tickets go on sale at 6:00pm. How was I going to turn down a trip to Disney?!
As soon as dinner was done we found ourselves attempting to navigate the train system. Luckily in Tokyo most things are in Japanese and English, so we were able to decipher maps and buy tickets without too much of a problem. However, the train system is massive. There was a seemingly endless line of tracks for us to choose from once we got through the gate. We eventually found a train that looked promising, which took us to Tokyo station, where we had to transfer through another seemingly endless array of tracks. Even though we looked like complete tourists, we made it to Tokyo Disney on the first try.
Unlike the American parks, Tokyo Disney has a reduced price if you enter the park after 6pm. For 4200 yen, about $40 USD, we could run around the park for four hours. There are two parks at Tokyo Disney, so we headed for Disney Sea. Instead of the castles I’m use to at Disney parks, the center of Disney Sea has a towering volcano, surrounded by a large lagoon. Popcorn venders were everywhere, selling strange and unique varieties of popcorn, like cayenne pepper and cappuccino. All the staff were wearing the fantastic costumes themed to each section of the park, and even though they were all speaking Japanese it sounded like they were saying all the usual Disney employee catch phrases. We had time to do several rides and explore quite a bit of the park before it closed. Of note was the Journey to the Center of the Earth ride, which took you on a long adventure before shooting you out of the volcano at the middle of the park.
After riding some very packed trains we ended up back at the hotel around midnight. I don’t even think my head hit the pillow before I passed out. If every day on tour ends up like this, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to survive 18 days.
If you want more stories from the Sonos tour, check out the official 2016 Sonos Tour Blog! Or just subscribe to this one.