（Contributed by Kota)
Music Next to You
London offers all sorts of arty things. For example, the British capital offers high-quality underground gigs. If I want to find out who is playing in London this week or this month, I can easily find information on those gigs. If I suddenly feel like going to a gig today, I can still find something. You may think that going to gigs is pretty expensive; but, that is not necessarily true in London. You can certainly enjoy decent gigs by paying 20 pounds or even less. Even if you go to gigs of some famous musicians, you wouldn’t pay more than 40 pounds. I guess what they pay in London is probably half—or less than half—of what we pay in Japan.
It is not only the cheaper cover charges, but also the easy-going attitudes of venue management and musicians; that means music stays close to you. I usually ask venue owners or whoever is in charge of taking care of the musicians if I can go backstage. Most of the time, the answer is “Yes” if you know the right timing. When I go backstage and tell the performers how I felt about their performance, they welcome me and show appreciation with big smiles. I often end up drinking and talking about music with them. While I have had such great experiences in London, I had quite the opposite experiences in Japan. Some venues in Japan tend to separate musicians from the audience, although musicians actually want to hear what the audience thought. I still remember one time when I could not talk to some of my favorite musicians, and I felt disappointed.
Different countries treat art in different ways. But, I just think that they tend to make music pretty expensive and less accessible to the public in Japan. Music has great energy to heal peoples’ minds. I hope music becomes more accessible to many people in Japan.