In a recent chat with American Way, the
veteran bandmates dished the dirt on exactly what goes on
when Aerosmith's on tour. Okay, it wasn't exactly their most
salacious backstage secrets, but they did single out one of
their favorite stops and reveal where they hang out there
when they're not playing to a packed house. So next time
you're in Tokyo, spike up your hair, squeeze into some black
leather, and see the city like a real rock star.
Steven Tyler, the rubber-lipped, limber-limbed lead singer of the
supergroup Aerosmith, is spending a leisurely Sunday afternoon
exploring Tokyo's scenic Yoyogi Park and its plentiful picnickers
and koi-filled ponds. The scene sounds tranquil, but Yoyogi Park is
also famous for the hopeful local performers, including the
requisite Elvis impersonators, who often show up there to perform
on makeshift stages. Given the crowd, it's not long before Tyler is
recognized, first by one wannabe rocker, then by hundreds. "I was
mobbed. Terrible mobbed," recalls Tyler, who had to make like the
Beatles in A Hard Day's Night to escape the horde.
That surreal encounter is a testament to the venerable Boston-based
band's immense success in Japan. For some 3 decades, Aerosmith has
rocked the world, selling more than 100 million albums, winning
every imaginable award, and touring so incessantly that the members
figure they've crossed the globe more than 36 times. But Japan,
especially Tokyo, where they routinely sell out the city's biggest
stadiums, remains one of their strongest fan bases. And now, after
recently releasing their 25th album, Honkin' on Bobo, which
continues to receive strong reviews, Tyler and fellow bandmate Joe
Perry are ready to rock you through Tokyo, the city where Aerosmith
Where do you like to stay in town?
STEVEN TYLER: The Park Hyatt, the hotel from the movie Lost In
Translation. Everything's just like you saw in the movie: the
pool, the health club, the view of the city, the bar. It's like a
little city, and the beds are great and the food is unbelievable.
It's very expensive, but it's as good as it gets. And it's
What's not to be missed in Tokyo?
JOE PERRY: One of the most amazing things to do is to go to the
Tsukiji fish market. It covers probably 3 acres. You have to go at
like 6 in the morning. Chances are you're going to be jet-lagged
and you'll be up at that hour anyway. Tsukiji has stuff from around
the world. Tuna from Australia, cod from the mid-Atlantic. You'll
see fish priced anywhere from $30 to $3,000. The workers core the
fish so buyers can see the quality of the meat, and then everyone
starts bidding on it. There are little sushi places all around for
the people who work there, and you can get some of the best sushi
you'll ever have. Don't go looking for a Philadelphia roll there.
It's the classic rice and raw fish, the freshest and the best. If
it lives in the sea, you're going to find it there.
What's something else you always do when you're there?
PERRY: I always bring my family, so we
do a lot of kid things. And being a guitar player, I always hit the
funky guitar shops and music stores. The guitar thing in Japan is
booming. It's one of the biggest markets in the world for guitars.
I'm not sure what the figures are, but I think Gibson sells almost
as many guitars there as it does in the U.S. Some of their high-end
stuff gets bought up in Japan even quicker than it does here. The
vintage market there is huge. It's on a street called Ochanomizu.
What else might you be shopping for? And where do you go?
TYLER: Full Count is a boutique where they make handmade pants and
shirts. They made me a pair of coveralls that I can feed the
chickens in, plus they're stylish. In Tokyo, my wife and daughters
shop at LaForet, a mall that's really popular among young girls. My
wife and daughters just about lost it there. It's just a hip,
trendy place. Our favorite store in all of Japan, though, is
Hysteric Glamour. Hysteric Glamour wanted to do some stuff with the
old Aerosmith logos, so we joined forces with them and now they
sell T-shirts, underwear, and other Aerosmith items in the stores.
It's really good stuff.
PERRY: Japanese department stores are one of the coolest places you
can go. Just imagine Bloomingdale's, only with a full-blown food
court in the basement, and then on the top floor you have an array
of, say, 10 restaurants, where you can get anything from fancy
dining to funky noodle houses. That's true of most department
stores in Japan. Our favorite one is Takashimaya. They usually have
the more traditional Japanese kimonos and all that kind of stuff.
There are a lot of things the designers will make just for the
Japanese market. I have a wallet I love that I got there probably 8
years ago. It was, I think, a Cartier. I asked a friend of mine
here in the States who owns a boutique if he could order me another
one and he said, "No, they only make those and sell them in Japan."
So you'll find a lot of styles, a lot of things, especially if
you're into fashion at all, that are unique to Japan.
Joe, you mentioned you always take the kids along with you.
Where do they like to go?
PERRY: Kiddyland, a toy store in the Harajuku. As with a lot of
things in Japan, they're on the cutting edge, and you'll see some
toys, especially the GameBoy kind of things, that won't make it to
the U.S. for six months. Kiddyland is geared more toward younger
kids. There are all kinds of little gadgets, trinkets, and stuff
there that're a lot of fun. Right next to Kiddyland is a place
called the Oriental Bazaar. It's a great place to buy your
souvenirs: kimonos, pottery, ceramics, and all the classic stuff
you want to take home. They have the T-shirts with the ninjas and
the ninja outfits for your nephew or six-year-old. It's a great
place to get postcards, chopsticks, tea sets, and stuff like that.
And the prices are really good.
Baseball is monumental in Japan. Have you ever been to a game
there? Or to any other sporting event?
PERRY: The sumo matches. They are definitely worth going to. It's
amazing, watching these guys go at it, especially if you go with
somebody who knows a little bit about it. If you ask the hotel
concierge or the front desk, they'll steer you in the right
direction. Sumo has been going on for 1,500 years. It's their
version of big-time wrestling, football, and baseball all rolled
into one. It's the only sport there that's totally, uniquely
Japanese. A sumo match will usually have maybe 2,000 or 3,000
people at it. If you can't get tickets, it's worth watching it on
What about some of the more cultural stuff? Do
either of you do any of that?
TYLER: The Ueno is a place we'll spend all day at. It's the oldest
and largest park in the city. There are temples, shrines, pagodas,
a zoo, and museums. It also has a market where you can buy a bunch
of cool stuff. If you ride, you can get a Harley there that you
can't get anywhere else.
PERRY: Ueno's flea market is huge. It must be 2 acres. You can get
everything there, like Nikes for a quarter of the price at a
regular store. They have toys. They have army surplus stuff from
all over the world. They sell food. It's just a great place to go
and hang out. You can't help but come out with 2 or 3 shopping bags
full of stuff.
If you have a little extra time, where might you go for an
exciting day trip?
PERRY: One thing is to go out to Edo Village in the suburb of
Nikko. You walk in and all of the architecture and buildings are
like they were back in the samurai days. They have little shows and
skits with sword fighting and ninjas. Everybody is dressed in the
traditional outfits, with the hairstyles and everything. Even if my
kids weren't with us, we'd go there. It's about a two-hour drive
out of the city, so it's a perfect day trip.
TYLER: I took the bullet train once with my family out to Mount
Fuji. You're traveling at 130 miles an hour. It takes you about 2
hours to get there, and it's just beautiful. There's snow on the
top. You can walk or take a cab halfway up to a beautiful lake and
some restaurants. The train ride itself is spectacular because the
Japanese countryside is adorned with step plowing, step gardening,
where nothing can erode, and rice paddies and beautiful trees. They
really take nature seriously.
What's something you love that you can only get in
PERRY: Taiyaki. It's a delicacy that I've never had here in
this country. It's basically two pancakes put together in a little
sandwich-maker kind of thing with some bean paste in the middle.
It's sweet. If you can get one when it's fresh and hot, there's
nothing like it. The traditional one is actually shaped like a
fish. They usually have it in the food courts in the department
stores. Once in awhile, you'll see one on the street, where they
actually make it the old-fashioned way, with a little iron and
cooked over coals, so the outside of the pancake is a little
TYLER: I just adore anything taiyaki.
What about restaurants in general? Where do you like to
TYLER: We stopped at a place called Serina Honten for
sukiyaki and stone-grilled steaks. The raw meat comes on a
plate and you take your chopsticks and lay the meat on top of some
hot rocks that are brought to your table. You cook the meat right
there on the rocks.
PERRY: Steak House Hama is a classic Japanese restaurant. They
cook everything in front of you. There are a few of them around the
country, but the one in Tokyo is a classic. The shrimp is usually
still moving when they throw it on the griddle. Obviously, you can
get sushi there, but their main focus is steak and seafood.
TYLER: For Chinese noodles, it's Kohien, and the Korean barbecue
place we ate at every day is Yugentei. We ate a lot of lunches in
the Chinese noodle place because you get a big bowl of steaming
noodles with tempura or vegetables or raw egg, whatever you want in
it. That makes a great lunch. The Korean barbecue is more of a
dinner. It's just a meat feast. They also have the Kobe beef, which
is very expensive. You get up from the table and it's like $400 a
What part of town would you say has the most energy?
TYLER: Roppongi is where we found most of the great restaurants.
Big fashion. Big nightlife. It's where you go if you're an artist
or celebrity. It's the biggest wow for the buck. Shabuya is in west
Tokyo. It's where the movie Lost In Translation was filmed.
Where do you most like to perform, and where do you go to hear
TYLER: The venues we have been playing are like the Osaka Dome,
Fukuoka Dome, Tokyo Dome, Yokohama Arena, Nagoya Dome. They're
huge. They hold 46,000, stacked to the max. The Budakan is one of
the best places because it's so small.
Speaking of performing, you're on the road constantly. Do you
have any great travel tips?
PERRY: When it comes to jet lag, don't try to fight it, just live
through it. For my work, I have to be on top of my game around
seven in the evening, so I have the luxury of sleeping in. We just
kind of roll with it and try to get some sleep on the plane, and
drink a lot of water. Then your body will naturally shift over. It
takes about a day for every hour of time change. It takes me at
least a week to get shifted over.
Anything we haven't covered?
TYLER: Let's not forget the Aerosmith Rock n' Roller Coaster.
[Which isn't in Tokyo, but at the Disney-MGM Studios at Walt Disney
World in Orlando, Florida]. It has an electromagnet engine that
propels the cars from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds.
And is there Aerosmith music playing during the ride?
TYLER: Oh, yeah. "Love in an Elevator," "Young Lust," "Sweet
Emotion," "Walk This Way." The typical Aerosmith songs.
Have you ever written a song about Tokyo?
TYLER: "Draw the Line." The lyrics don't have anything to do with
Tokyo; it's just that we wrote the song and it's the first place we
played it. So it reminds us of Tokyo. It's also one of our biggest
songs over there.