One aspect of Japan that I continually read and write about, are bars. Sure I love beer and having a good time but that’s not what peaks my interest. It’s the spaces themselves that I find so intriguing. They are microcosms for the world and incubators for the human story. Two strangers meet and their discussion juts out as another cilia like hair from the thread of time. This could happen anywhere you say? The bank, the library, and the super market are all just as likely places of human interaction. But it’s the individuality and character of bars in Japan that make them soberingly ideal places for the story of life to unfold.
Like on a boat, everything in Japan seems to serve more than one purpose. What you thought was a desk is now a bed. The chair you were just sitting on is now a table. The bars, if we can even call them bars, are no exception. Often in masterfully imaginative and creative ways the bars somehow manage to make one facility serve several purposes. At any given time you can order a beer, or lunch, or coffee, all while being culturally enriched by art and live music. The combination of beverages, art, and music is no new concept. However, the dedication to quality, and the manner in which they seamlessly integrate all of these elements, makes the Japanese bars unique. One of these multipurpose-cultural-kaleidoscopes is かねよ食堂。 （Literally “multipurpose dining room”)
This place is my heaven. It’s a Hemingway like haven by the sea. I envision myself under a slow moving fan, while warm breezes saunter through bringing the songs and sounds of the Pacific. My glass of quinine sunshine perspires, as do I. Beads of moisture running in zig-zag paths carry away heat and any inkling of worry. Pen in hand, I labor over the blank pages of my notebook. It’s the easy self-involved day-dreaming-labor of a child building a sand castle. I write by dictation, the environment speaks and I transcribe. My cigar sits in the tray and sputters smoke signals to the dreamers of the world. “Awake!” it says. “The sun has risen, there is life to be lived and stories to be told.” Across the room the band begins their set. The guitars paint the last strokes of my impressionist piece, “Eden by Afternoon.” Everything good comes in waves. Water, sound, light, emotions, and creative cognition flow forward in dynamic shifts of troughs and crests. The universe, in all its complexity, seems to have things figured out.
かねよ食堂 is rustic yet refined. The entire structure looks like a collection of driftwood that washed up on shore. It’s a bungalow, a cabana, an oasis, and a true pearl. The woodwork and well thought out lighting give it the feel of a childhood fort. There is an inescapable wonder and timelessness in the weather worn floor boards of this shanty shack surf den. It brings together everything I, and I think everyone, loves in life. When there is music, people, food, art, and the ocean, you must ask yourself, “If this isn’t nice what is?”
I use places like this to learn geographical names and words that may not regularly appear in my Japanese vocabulary.
This is a link to the Google Image search for the bar. Lots of great pictures which lead to lots of great Japanese websites to do some reading practice.
This is a link to the bars blog. Lots of cool events and useful things to read about.
This is a link to a popular Japanese foodzie site called 食べログ, it’s the page on かねよ食堂。
This is another blog that has some nice pictures and Japanese discussions about かねよ。