George's Bar, on a corner of the former site of the Defense Agency headquarters in Roppongi, needs no introduction to its hundreds of regulars. For those who haven't dropped by recently, though, I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that Tokyo's funkiest little juke-joint is still going strong after 38 years of business. The bad news is that, sadly, the mama-san, Nobuko Okada passed away in October. She was 72.

I was grief-stricken when I heard -- as was everybody. I stood stunned at the bar until my friend suggested we order drinks and raise our glasses in her memory. And just as we were readying to do so, two very well-dressed and manicured young men, who hadn't uttered a word since we arrived, suddenly snapped to and lunged toward us with their drinks to join our memorial "kanpai." They had also only just heard the news. We then, all four, settled into a sobering silence.