Alright, I hadn’t known this before, but when I arrived in Japan in the mid-1980s, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I stayed in Bunkyo-ku, not far from Gokokuji Temple.
Unbeknown to me at the time, and not until today, in fact, right around the same time, Australia’s biggest band, and then one of the hottest acts globally, INXS, had also filmed the music video for their hit, I Send a Message, at the same temple.
I’d come to Japan with few expectations, but among the images I had were those from a couple of INXS videos from around the time.
I had no idea that it had been so close. Gokokuji was the first temple I ever visited in Japan.
To this day I remember two things from the visit….sponsorship signs from Hitachi (at the time, Japan was still in the midst of the bubble era and appeared poised to become the world’s largest economy); and the Japanese crows.
The size and fierce countenance of the birds took me back, especially as I had found Australian crows to be quaint.
I’ve grown to love crows now, but I can still remember that seeing my first Japanese crow gave me a bit of a shock.
The other INXS video from the era, incidentally was for Original Sin, for which there were two versions made, actually.
One of these featured dekotora, which were still then a comparatively common sight on Japanese roads.
These videos were shot in the Oi Wharf area.
Although I stayed near Gokokuji for about a year, I never really went back after that first visit. I’ve never forgotten it, though (maybe because it also gave its name to the subway station I most frequently used). I remember the huge crowds lining up for miles to go there for Yutaka Ozaki‘s funeral a couple of years later, and a kyoiku mama who murdered a little girl who made her daughter look bad at a kindergarten in the area in the late 1990s.