I was fortunate to have the amazing opportunity of traveling to Japan last month to meet and greet customers during a series of visits to Gretsch Guitar and Drum dealers. As a member of the sixth generation of the Gretsch family, it was great to meet other young musicians and share with them the history of the Gretsch family business. I was accompanied by well-known guitar and pickup manufacturer, TV Jones. It was a great trip with memories I’ll long cherish.
Here’s a recap of my amazing journey:
June 23, 2009
I woke up at an unusual hour due to the intense jet lag that I’m sure is not affecting me as fully as it will soon. After a breakfast consisting of a variety of breads, cereals, and rice balls, TV Jones and I were escorted to the first of many interesting stops. We went to visit a few music stores and a showroom. The first thing I noticed about Japanese music stores is that they were very crowded. There were guitars taking up almost every inch of space with a lane just big enough for one person to walk through. We visited a few stores and were introduced to each store manager. I also met some great customers at each location and autographed a special photo of the Gretsch family–fourth, fifth, and six generations together. After visiting the dealers in t
he Akihabara District, we were taken to the Emperor’s Palace one train stop away. It was beautiful as you can probably imagine. We stopped for some authentic sushi. We walked around for an hour or so and returned to a great welcome party thrown in our honor at the Zemitis Museum. The food was different, but nothing too crazy. The night was pretty short for me because after an hour or so the jet lag hit me full force and I felt I could have fallen asleep anywhere. So I called it a night while everyone including TV Jones was still thoroughly enjoying themselves.
June 25, 2009
Yesterday and today we visited dealers in the Shibuya District and, again, got to meet some great Gretsch fans. Today we took a bullet train which was a really amazing experience. The train was very comfortable and of course very efficient. When we got to Nagoya we had lunch at an Italian restaurant before going on a factory tour. The factory from the outside didn’t really seem too special, but once we saw what was going on inside I was blown away. We got to see the process of a guitar being made start to finish and was amazed at some of the stuff that goes into making a guitar. The tour has been the most interesting thing I have seen so far but I’m only about half way through my trip so who knows what else I’ll be seeing or experiencing. After seeing the factory we drove into the city. In downtown Nagoya we saw a few dealers and again greeted customers and signed photos. That night we had dinner at a place famous for its chicken wings. They were very different from American ones but still very good. After dinner I enjoyed the hot spring at the hotel before calling it a night.
June 26, 2009
The next day we got up and
caught a bullet train to Kyoto, a smaller city on the way to Osaka known for its temples and shrines. We spent most of the day visiting temples. They were all absolutely beautiful. They each had large portions of land set aside for them so the scenery around them was very pretty as well. We saw three major temples and the Shogun Palace. In between we had lunch at a traditional Japanese noodle place where we sat on the floor and had some very interesting and good food. Afterward we visited a few music stores. At one an employee asked TV Jones and I to sign his Fender Stratocaster that he had owned for almost 20 years. I was very nervous about signing something so nice. We didn’t stay too long before we took a very short train ride the rest of the way to Osaka. After we got situated in the hotel I had time to wander around the city a little bit before we headed off to dinner at the Hard Rock Café. It was the first American food I have eaten so far on the trip so I liked a little taste of home in the middle of the trip. We had a very good dinner and spent the night talking about music and some of our favorite artists before heading back to the hotel for the night.
June 28, 2009
Yesterday, we visited several dealers in Osaka. It was a great experience and I really felt I connected with the young musicians I met. Another thing that stood out for me was a sightseeing trip to Osaka Castle. It was the most impressive thing I’d seen up to that point. We woke up and caught a train back to Tokyo with plans of spending the day just enjoying the city. I was also able to see Tokyo at night with all the lights from across the Tokyo Bay. It was my favorite sight of the week and it capped off a truly amazing trip. I hope I can go back and do it all again sometime!
To read more, click here.