From California-style cafes to French bistros, international restaurants in Tokyo possess world-class wine lists. But if consumers' experience of wine is limited to their forays into international gourmet dining, it will remain an exotic, special-occasion beverage. To establish a comfortable home for itself in Japan, wine must find its way into less rarefied, local environments. It must make friends with Japanese cuisine, flirt with yakitori or sashimi -- or perhaps leap into an illicit liaison with tonkatsu.

In the current series of Vineland columns, we're exploring Tokyo venues that successfully pair wine with Japanese cuisine. Our last column reported on Torifuji, a yakitoriya/wine bar in the bustle of Ginza. This week, we headed to a quieter corner of town -- a side street in Nakameguro, site of the sleek, "nouvelle Japanese" restaurant Showa Society.

A recent Tokyo trend has been the reinterpretation of Japanese dining by hip, young restaurateurs and sommeliers. These folks have seen the world but found their way back to Japan. They serve nihonshu, shochu and wine with equal confidence. We're thinking, for example, of places ranging from Quienquerra (a dusky bar in an old timber house in Shirokane; [03] 346-0609) to Lucky Restaurant (proprietor Ro Shiou's funky Japanese home-cooking set in a nostalgic 1950s Azabu Juban house; [03] 5484-8075). On Shirokanedai's Platina-dori, a new, retro-chic ramen shop offers a basic selection of sparkling wine, Valpolicella and Soave to accompany bowls of savory broth and noodles (Ramen, 5-17-1 Shirokanedai; [03] 3445-4231). Showa Society fits into this category of nouvelle Japanese places that discover inspiration in tradition -- and then render it vibrant, seductive and new.