Now that washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) is part of the World’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, the next step is to make the nation’s kissaten (tea and coffee shops) part of the world’s tangible cultural heritage before they disappear.
Mazura, in Osaka’s Umeda district, definitely deserves heritage status. It has been around since at least 1960 and, despite all the changes, remains a remnant of the Showa Era (1926-89) — a point emphasized by the silver ashtrays on each table. This is paradise for a smoker (i.e., salaryman), but thankfully the smoke wasn’t so off-putting during a recent visit.
What a space it is: an approximation of what an airport lounge might have looked during the heyday of international travel, back when it was exclusive, classy . . . and smoky.
The center of the cafe is dominated by a circular lounge, but my host guides me away from this exclusive area reserved for people further up the pecking order.
Mirrors, fake flowers and a model of a tall ship make up the decor, and the menu is just as spectacularly average: coffee, tea, toast and crustless egg sandwiches. Baristas need not apply.
Mazura harks back to the days when everyone smoked (or at least that’s how it seemed), when a cafe was an extension of its master’s personality — how else to explain the life-sized Johnnie Walker statue guarding the entrance?
B1F Osaka Eki Mae Building One, 1-3-1, Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka; 06-6345-3400; nearest stations, Umeda, Kitashinchi, Nishi-Umeda; open 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; closed Sunday; set meals from ¥350; smoking OK; Japanese menu, Japanese spoken.
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