Hi, oil on canvas has been on constantly in my office this week and the memories of the final tour have come flooding back. How did the inclusion of Masami come about and do you still keep in touch?

Masami and I first worked together as members of the Yukihiro Takahashi band in summer ’82. It was after this that he was invited to play with JAPAN on our final tour. We sometimes connect through various events/friends but not for some time now.

(photos by Steve Jansen)


Appreciating the rich, vivid colours of Polaroid film as well as its longevity.

From the summer of 1982 Takahashi tour of Japan (colourful times).


  1. during rehearsals with Hosono & Tsuchiya
  2. backstage dining with Takahashi
  3. evening bar with Takahashi, Sandii & Mokoto
  4. recording session for Akiko Yano (tv show theme song) with Sakamoto producing

Piano often features in your music. Have you been playing piano since Japan days or even pre-Japan? I remember you explaining that Simmons drums caused wrist trauma but did you use Simmons drums — and octobans — post-Japan, in either recording or live?

I’ve had an interest in playing piano since I was in secondary school but it wasn’t until the mid eighties that I bought one for myself. As regards Simmons drums, I only used them on the 1981 tour and not afterwards. They were extremely limited sonically as well as in terms of expressive performance. The Octobans remained until the demise of JAPAN as they formed a part of the rhythm tracks in songs such as ‘The Art Of Parties’ and ‘Cantonese Boy’. I’ve not used them since. I believe one of them currently functions as an umbrella stand in my parent’s porch.

Trick photo (uncredited)… shoot the piano player!


Hi Steve, did you and Mick write your bass and drum parts together for “Still Life in Mobile Homes” or did one follow the other? I know it’s a total trainspotter’s question but one I’ve carried with me for three decades because I’ve always loved that song so much because of the way all the parts of the song come together. Hope you can answer/remember. Cheers.

I like trainspotter questions 🙂 In general the rhythm part would lead Mick to syncopate his notation to fall on certain beats and we would then work closely on arranging various changes and details. In other examples, (such as ‘Sons Of Pioneers’) Mick had written the bass part without a drum pattern and I had to find something suitable. ‘Still Life In Mobile Homes’ is particularly rigid between the bass and drums and this was inspired by technology that was emerging at the time whereby computerised rhythm sections were locked in sync. The bass drum on the ‘Tin Drum’ recording was programmed on a Linn drum machine. The ‘Oil On Canvas’ live version was performed.

Photos by Justin Thomas at Nomis Rehearsal Studios, West London.

It’s been 38 years since Japan played their first concert at Budokan on 5th March in 1979 in Japan. What was the first impression you had of playing there ? What memory comes first in your mind when you think of the first time you visited Japan. ? By the way,did you buy any souvenirs for your parents from Japan ? Hoping we get a good news soon from Sweden!

The Budokan is pretty massive so the sound was quite uncontrollable and when you factor in the screams it wasn’t easy. It felt as though we were constantly on the verge of losing it musically but thankfully we were well-rehearsed and just about managed to hold it together. It seemed easier the second night because we knew what we were up against. I seem to remember tv cameras upon our arrival as we exited the plane into the terminal and this was all rather a lot to take in for a band that had only played to an audience of a few hundred and been shunned by the media en mass back home.

I probably did buy a souvenir as UDO felt obliged to send us off to the Ginza tax free arcade, which was like a treasure cove under the railway arches.