Black AF and Lost AF: The Recounting of Von Phoenix’s First Day in Japan

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So y’all! We went to motha fuckin JAPAN. It goes without saying(almost) but it was a lifetime dream for all of us who went. Amazing sights, dope-ass people, great and insane moments throughout the entire two weeks. We’ll post more stories soon but let me talk to you about what you came to read about- my first day.

Firstly, let me start by saying this: Before we left, I explained to Mateo and the team that it was fucking IMPERATIVE that we all stay together. New country, culture, rules, signs, everything. To survive the party must remain a party- and not to put the cart before the horse, but this is where I truly fucked up. But again, getting ahead of myself.

So after a long ass flight with no outlets(thank you for that United, you mfs), we land in Tokyo. Get off the plane, blaze through customs(everything was super efficient, shout out to the airport in Narita, fuckin すごい). As soon as I get into the public area, I get rushed but a couple of locals who want to interview on why I’m there. It was cool, if we can find the footage we’ll drop it. After that, we head to the area where we get our tickets for the Shinkansen(Bullet Train), and that’s where our tale truly begins.

I grabbed my tickets(which was more complicated than I bargained for) and stood around and waited for the team. I got my ticket to leave out 45 mins from then, which I THOUGHT was a good amount of time to give the others. I was SO wrong. So as my time(17:15) approaches, I realize that I’m gonna have to make the first journey to the Air Bnb alone. Easy right? It’s just 336.3 miles through a country I’ve never been in, with a laughably rudimental level of the Japanese language(spoiler alert, there are no fuckin subtitles) to use. EASY. After figuring out that I have to put 3 tickets into the ticketing machine together at once, I get on the train. But what’s this?! I’m in the wrong car. 10 cars away from where I’m supposed to be in fact. I speak to an employee that gives me this stern look and very animated gesture that I need to fuckin book it down the train.  He conveys that the trains will eventually split, and down here I will never reach Osaka. I get up and proceed to book it down 10 cars (if you’ve seen Netflix’s Bullet Train it’s like that but without all the fancy lights-so LONG AF) with all of my things. What do I have? Let’s do a quick inventory:

One Guitar(Tweed case, packed with some clothes for cushioning, guitar pedals, and wires. i.e. heavy and awkward to carry, leans toward the front)

Two Duffles(One on my back with equipment and clothes, and another with clothes and a very expensive laptop I got FOR THE TRIP so I could work on animations on the road)

One big ass suitcase with WAY too many clothes(diva) and that doesn’t roll sideways(it’s old)

Just carrying all this, in general, was hardcore, but trying to fit through the small space of the train while being a bigger person(6’2, 230 lbs) was a mf endeavor. I fell on a couple at one time(ごめんなさい!), and then the biggest thing happened. I DROPPED my duffle with my new laptop and kept going. I was so crazed, overstimulated, and full of anxiety that I didn’t even notice it. After walking up about 3 cars, someone caught up to me and gave it back. What I didn’t realize is that the laptop that was once in it was now mf missing. Once I did realize it, I dropped my other shit and sprinted through the train looking for it, but also with the knowledge that the train might split at any moment and I’ll lose my other luggage as well. INSANE.

Unfortunately at this time, I didn’t find it and had to get on my connecting train from Shinagawa without it. Let me tell you I was truly pissed. I ended up standing up the whole 3-hour ride to Osaka in sheer frustration, with the main thought being that I did this to myself by breaking the one main rule I told everyone else.

But the hell does not stop there. After getting a taxi from the station(did I mention my international plan from Tmobile hadn’t kicked in yet? So I’m flying BLIND af unless there is wifi) I realize that AirBnb has mistranslated the address. The taxi takes me to one of the fanciest hotels I’ve ever seen, and I’m like, “This definitely isn’t it.” I work with the driver to try and decipher where I could be, and he figures it out(I thought, but we’re communicating through Google translate) and drives me to a new address. The address was a bit wrong and dropped me in what is essentially the hood of Osaka. So I’m out walkin the block at 2 a.m.(Japan Time) with all my stuff, praying to the old gods and the mf new for a Wi-Fi signal. Prayers go unanswered, I start to swallow and accept that I may be sleeping on the streets(which were very clean actually) that night. I ended up flagging down a very gracious group of Australians, who are benevolent enough to let me use their hotspot. It works, I get in contact with Jomar(who I’ve dubbed THAT Nigga for the trip, as he was the MVP and Navigator for the whole trip), and he gives me the real address. Luckily(and unfortunately) the address was about 15 mf blocks from where I was, so I walked with all my stuff and finally got a moment of peace.

So what about my laptop? Turns out the person who took it either had a change of heart or got a mean talking to, so they dropped it off at Shibuya station(not on the Shinkansen) and I was able to get the thing back. WILD, as I could not fathom that happening in the US. I think it’s divine irony that before I left the US, I heat-pressed the phrase “Fight Evil” huge in Hiragana, and that was what helped them to find it.

So that was my first day in Japan. If you couldn’t tell, I was mf HUMBLED. New perspectives on life, I’m a mf changed man. It was a not so little nudge from my ancestors to say “Don’t be gettin too big for your britches”.

More stories soon! I may make a TikTok of this recounting as well lol!

Love y’all. Be safe, and be kind to each other.

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