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An Anniversary at the Amazing Plastic Factory, a Jam at the Fabulous Nanbanya – a Night to Remember in Nagoya

October 6, 2014

plastic factory night club in Nagoya, Japan

plastic factory night club in Nagoya, Japan

NAGOYA, Japan – It has been 10 years now that Heinz Senn and his Plastic Factory have been drawing people together for art shows, open mics, concerts, DJ dances, pole dances and just plain drinking at the bar. And on Saturday night, the Plastic Factory celebrated that decade of presence in the Imaike neighborhood of Nagoya with an all night party, pole dancers, a wild DJ and lots of dancing.

The great thing about the Plastic Factory for me, is that it has this absolutely perfect mix of Japanese people and foreigners from the U.S., Canada, England, Australia, Germany, Switzerland – Heinz’s nationality – and just about anywhere else you can imagine. But, yes, an expat venue that attracts local Japanese people as well.

I missed the open mic by a week, unfortunately, but it was an honor to be able to make it to the 10-year anniversary. To share a little bit of the feel, I did some videos of the pole dancers….

And from the Plastic Factory, off I went down the street to the Nanbanya jam

I had to work the next day, though, so there was no way I could stay very late at the fabulous Plastic Factory party. And yet, I knew that my walk back to the hotel would pass me by the entrance to the Nanbanya bar that is only about five minutes’ walk from the Plastic Factory.

I discovered Nanbanya two years ago and was unable to make it there last year. But I’m really glad I did this year. It was Saturday night jam night, but I arrived late enough that the music was not really in full swing anymore. The crowd had died out to a night comfortable 15 or so people maximum, and a handful of musicians. People were chatting, going to the stage area to play a bit, returning to chat, returning to play… it was a much more laid back experience musically, i.e., more acoustic than the usual more rock and blues kind of full band thing.

But at one point I had my guitar, vocals, a lead player, bass player and drummer playing along with me. It was bliss. I got to do a few songs with two different guys playing lead along with me, too. I love Nanbanya, because the people are very cool, there are some great musicians, the bar itself is underground, long, low, comfy, and the stage area is well lit, a good sound system, and lots of instruments available.

After leaving the party at the Plastic Factory in full raucous swing, it was great to cool down at the Nanbanya and relax and play some music before returning to the hotel and readying myself for the last, nearly tragic, day of work in Suzuka. (A French driver, Jules Bianchi, was seriously injure in a crash.)

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!

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