Last month, I attended an event in Tokyo called Black Gold. The project was set up by Cameron Peagler as a way to celebrate artists and creatives working in Japan. His group organizes events that establish a direct cultural exchange between those in the Japanese and Black communities as a way to create a stronger relationship between the two.

The event was held at the funky BUoY gallery in Adachi Ward, Tokyo. Being there took me back to my youth in New York — to places where I might have been found reciting poetry on open mics or patronizing some underground hip-hop act’s fledgling efforts. BUoY has that dilapidated cavern chic of spots in Soho or the East Village: crumbling concrete, cracked tiles, plaster hanging like stalactites from the ceiling, and even some large abandoned tubs — evidence the venue had once been a sentō (public bathhouse).

The crowd was racially diverse, about a 50-50 mix of Japanese and non-Japanese, young artists and their admirers. The lineup of performers included the Osaka-based singer-songwriter French Antonio, and a producer who goes by the name Diverse and did some live finger drumming. Actually, all the acts were well-received by the crowd.