It'd been years since I caught a whiff of that smell; and why, how could it be backstage (and on stage?) at HPAC. In America, sure, it happens. Not usually at a concert, but maybe sometimes, especially if there are "young" people there. But in Japan? I was so surprised that I whispered to my stand partner as we were adjusting our chairs before the first piece, "I smell weed." "Yeah, me too." Wait, really?? It's not just me? And then we had to play.
I realized a familiar feeling that is generally absent in Japan, that of not being so sure that everyone around you is sober. Who could it be? Of course no two people experience anything in life in the exact same way, but when a person or a group of people around you is high, or drunk, or otherwise compromised by substances it's hard not to feel a little alienated. And also unsure about the predictability of their behavior. It's a common feeling in America, with drugs being far more prevalent and far less punishable than in Japan. It was strange to smell that smell here, and strange to have that feeling, not realizing that it had been a feeling that belongs to certain situations in America, but not here.
I've come to the conclusion that it must have just been a mix of strange tobacco smoke and cologne or something of that nature. Perhaps an unusual mushroom in a bento box. The chances of it actually being marijuana are just too unbelievable. But the emotional response it conjured was telling. Another difference between the tapestries that color American and Japanese culture and why these worlds feel as different as they do.