British pubs are everywhere in Japan these days. They, along with their Irish counterparts, are common drinking venues for both expats and Japanese eager for a cozy, dimly lit atmosphere, hearty pub fare such as shepherd's pie, fish and chips, and a tempting variety of draft beers.

Pubs are now so numerous in Japan that it's interesting to reflect upon the time when they weren't. John Watkins, founder and owner of The Tavern, has been in the business since the English pub in Japan was an exotic rarity.

A native of Bristol, where he studied photography, Watkins eventually made his way to London before being hired at 22 as a photographer on passenger ships.