Lately, I’ve found myself worrying about you. Yes, you — my vicarious companions; my invisible tagalongs. You, who follow my adventures by remote control. You, whose presence is most notable by your absence. But that’s not what’s bothering me. It seems that your absence has also been noted in my absence, i.e., at all the little bars I have introduced along the way. I have yet to hear of a confirmed sighting of a new face found at the bar clutching a battered copy of the Sunday Japan Times. But, of course, you’d be too cool to do something as silly as that.
Of course, some of you are burrowed deep in the Japanese hinterland, in the uncharted regions beyond Tokyo’s city limits. You are excused, in absentia. But what of the rest of you? Are you overworking? Not getting out as much as you used to? Or — God forbid! — has my array of night treasures failed to tempt you from your armchair? I shudder to think, especially now that winter is encroaching and even I find myself scurrying home to hug the heater. No excuse would allow me to be notably absent.
Like postmen, professional barflies must deliver — come rain, snow or shine. And so it was, recently, that I decided to brave the night — but only within walking distance of my heater. Jiyugaoka has been my ‘hood for seven years. It also just happens to be full of cool little bars. And, as luck would have it, the closest one to my house is also one of my favorites. It is called Masi, pronounced “maji,” meaning “serious” in Japanese. And it is, make no mistake, a seriously good bar. It is seriously stylish and seriously relaxing. And Kenji and Aya-chan, the brother and sister who own and run it, are seriously young. And seriously into music. Most regulars are serious young professionals.
But this barrage of esses is starting to make me nervous, and Masi has no jagged edges. It exudes a gentle, soothing ambience. A sleek, stainless-steel bar glows softly under track lighting, behind which bottles gleam in pristine dust-free rows. Low tables and stools line the wall opposite. At the far end, a set of congas sits artfully under a spotlight in front of a simple blue expanse of wall. Acid jazz follows classic or rare grooves or fusion, delivered via an impeccably balanced sound system. No one is afraid of the volume.
Kenji has returned after a three-year absence helping a friend with a restaurant, meaning that Aya-chan is now rarely present. But they will both be there to celebrate Masi’s fifth anniversary in late December (date to be announced). As will my two favorite stalwarts Hiroe-san and Akutsu and any and all of the serious insomniacs with whom I spent an inspired night waiting for dawn.
It’s time to leave your armchair, if you dare. If not, e-mail your excuses to email@example.com . Seriously . . .