Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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Falling into a Jam in Nagoya – and Loving It

October 7, 2012

I played music on the first two nights in Nagoya, feeling completely satiated and happy and full of a sense of achievement. So I said to myself on my third night, last night, that I would just simply relax, go to a restaurant, take it easy, not look for a place to play and get to bed early. And then all hell broke loose….

I finished the meal and started walking the several kilometers from the center of the city in Sakae out to my hotel in Imaike. I had been eating and drinking a fair amount in recent days and I thought I could use the exercise of a nice long quick walk. It was a great pleasure. I ended up being slightly unsure of my route, though, but decided that for the sake of adventure, I would just keep walking in that direction and see where it led.

It led precisely to the intersection where I knew I had to turn left to get to my hotel. And as I turned left, I suddenly heard the sound of live music coming from a stairwell. I was about three minutes walk from my hotel, and there I saw a sign that said: Jam Session….

I quickly descended the stairs and found the warmest, coolest, ramshackle underground bar I could imagine, and it was brimming full of Japanese people listening to a bunch of Japanese musicians on a cool stage area playing the blues. I asked the woman behind the bar – who approached me – what time the jam went on to, and she indicated 2 AM.

“I’ll be right back!” I said, pointing at the guitars on the wall to indicate I was going to get my own. After all, it was only then just 10 PM.

So I went to my hotel, took out my guitar and sang a song to warm up my voice, and then I ran off again to the bar, which I later learned was called Nanbanya, and has a weekly jam on Saturday nights. Or most Saturday nights.

The first guy I talk to turns out to be the importer for all of Japan of Godin guitars, which is the company that makes my Seagull S6 – although he does not import the Seagulls, only the Godins. The night, I knew immediately, was going to be immense.

It was. I played three times, getting invited twice more after my first time up, and I met several interesting people, saw some amazing musicians – check out the absolutely nuts guitar players, the young Japanese guy with the Hendrix T-shirt, and the Peruvian with the Gibson….

Man, this was a dream night. I never knew anything like this existed in Nagoya, and I happened to stumble upon it next to my hotel after deciding to walk home and making a mistake in navigation. This is proof that everything we want in life lies just around the corner, and sometimes we will just stumble across it – so don’t give up!


  1. Brilliant, Brad. You’re so right, sometimes we head off on the straight road, 100 mph, head down, determined to reach our destination, whatever that might be, and we miss a much better destination which is waiting for us just round the corner. Moral is have the courage to go off the tried and tested track and keep your eyes open for opportunities.

    • Thanks Jane. Yes, and now here I go off into the streets of Osaka, fully expecting to find no music, as I have searched in vain on the Internet…. oh well, Seoul and Mokpo await!!! (And we’ll see….)

  2. Hello Brad! So glad you found such a wonderful spot. I am SURE you will find something in Osaka because there is way more going on there than in Nagoya. Best of luck with the rest of your Asian destinations.
    Lisa from Harmonium Parlour

  3. Pingback: An Anniversary at the Amazing Plastic Factory, a Jam at the Fabulous Nanbanya – a Night to Remember in Nagoya | Brad Spurgeon's Blog

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