Masako - CLOSED Feb 2010

Masako inside.jpg
Masako inside.jpg
Masako outside.jpg
2-20-2 Kitazawa, Setagaya-Ku
Kitazawa 2 Chome 20-2 Setagaya-ku Tōkyō-to JP

NOTE: Masako closed in FEB 2010…I’m leaving it here anyways, so people will remember.

Masako in Shimo-Kitazawa is close to perfect, one of those places you could stay in for hours drinking coffee or beer, listening to one album after the next. As one of the oldest remaining jazz cafes in Tokyo it has a regal sort of atmosphere to it. When you walk in you come face-to-face with a large oil painting of Masako herself with the great Mal Waldron, a long-time visitor to Japan. A look further inside reveals a series of oil paintings on the walls, all of famous jazz musicians. What I liked even more were the old concert posters spread around the paintings, some from as far back as the 1950s.

No live music here, just 2000+ records and roughly the same amount of CDs. Lots of swing and 1950s and 60s albums in the collection, but even some fusion too. Requests are gladly accepted if they can find it in the cabinet. The seats and tables are low and the shop is kept fairly dark; like all the best jazz spots it’s a place for hard core fans who want to listen intently to the music and not work on their lap top or chat loudly to their friends.

There are two bookcases packed with old `Swing Journal` and `Jazz Review` magazines, fun to browse through even if you don`t read Japanese. I’ve learned a lot about jazz by browsing these magazines over the years, and still remember working my way through a long Japanese-language profile of Freddie Hubbard one day.

Masako passed on in 1984, and the place has been run since then by Fukushima-san. He said there weren’t as many regulars as there used to be, but every time I go there it’s packed so business seems good. (I’ve noticed again and again that jazz bar/cafe owners here often moan about the lack of customers compared to 30 years ago, yet their places are still open and usually at full capacity…. nostalgia for the old days perhaps?)

Masako is the oldest jazz cafe in Tokyo and second oldest in the whole Kanto area after Chigusa in Yokohama. Here’s hoping it stays open another 50 years.

Size
31-40
Food
Yes
Directions

Station: Shimo-Kitazawa-Odakyu/Keio Inogashira Lines

Exit: South

Distance from station: 2 minutes

Masako is less than two minutes walk from the South exit of Shimo-Kitazawa station on the Odakyu or Keio lines. The map on the website is very clear.

Date published
02/04/2009
IMG_1046.JPG
155-0032 東京都世田谷区代沢5-31-14 0.31 km
Lady Jane has a very cinematic feel to it, the kind of joint that a lot of people outside Japan w...
IMG_2704.JPG
5-6-14 Daizawa, Setagaya-Ku 0.57 km
Jazz Haus Posy was opened in 1973 by jazz fanatic Misa. She’s a serious enough fan to hav...
IMG_1033.JPG
Matsubara 1-37-14, Setagaya-Ku 1.78 km
03-3321-943103-3321-9431
Miles is a treasure. It opened in 1960 and is one of the few remaining neighborhood jazz bars fro...
Casa Rosa 2F Seijo 6-16-5, Setagaya-ku 2.02 km
I’ve known Yoshioka-san, owner and sole staff at Cafe Beulmans for several years now, since...
IMG_2694.JPG
Minami Karasuyama 5-17-13 3F, Setagaya-Ku 2.02 km
Ragtime is the ideal jazz cafe in many ways. It’s a small place up on the 3rd floor of a ru...
Swing-6.jpg
16-4 Kamiyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo 2.46 km
Despite its old-world cafe atmosphere, Swing only opened in 2014 and is one of the newer jazz spo...
bar bossa.jpg
41-23 Udagawa-Cho, Shibuya-Ku 150-0044 2.6 km
Bar Bossa in Shibuya is a quiet gem of a place, perfect for bossa nova fans and/or couples lookin...
JBS (Jazz,Blues,Soul).jpg
1-17-10 Dogenzaka, Shibuya-Ku 2.74 km
There’s a beautiful simplicity about JBS (Jazz,Blues,Soul). Owner Kobayashi-san has more th...
Pres Jazz Bar.jpg
Utagawacho 30-4, Shibuya-Ku 2.8 km
03-3463-284803-3463-2848
Pres Jazz Bar is located up near the end of “Center Gai” street in Shibuya, not the...
Mary Jane outside.jpg
Fuji Shoji Bldg. 2F, Sakuragaoka 2-3, Shibuya-Ku 2.85 km
Many years back I found  Mary Jane by accident, as I had been  looking for the wonderfully named ...
Himawari Bldg. 2F, Dogenzaka 2-26-5, Shibuya-Ku 2.85 km
Very small place that is really just a bar with live music every night of the week. I’ve go...
IMG_0139.jpg
Shibuya Parco B1, Udagawa-Cho 15-1 2.89 km
The central streets of Shibuya often conceal some cool little music spots amidst the brand stores...
B1 26-6, Utagawa-cho, Shibuya-Ku 2.91 km
Modern jazz specialty shop, more than 8000 records on sale from the 50s & 60s. Been open sinc...
koendori.png
Shibuya-ku, Udagawacho 19-5 2.95 km
Koen-Dori Classics is a small performance space located underneath a church in the heart of Shibu...
Haikara-Tei inside.jpg
Toyo Bldg. B1, 2-20-19 Yoyogi, Shibuya-Ku 2.97 km
03-3370-180103-3370-1801
Haikara-Tei is another Shinjuku jazz bar that somehow never popped up on my jazz radar after all ...
wahwah.jpg
Daihachi-Toto Bld. B1 15-19 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuyaku Tokyo, Japan 150-0031 3.11 km
The Room is one of Tokyo’s best clubs, if not THE best for fans of funky/groovy music. It&#...
IMG_5335.jpeg
東京都渋谷区桜丘町 17-10 3.13 km
Music Bar 45 is a small 2nd floor joint located just a few minutes walk from the south exit of Sh...
IMG_0020.JPG
Tokyo-to, Meguro-Ku, Yutenji 1-22-6 3.39 km
Ohio is great, an intimate, friendly bar with a huge collection of soul music. Owner Kin-chan has...
Screen Shot 2019-12-16 at 9.35.19.png
〒150-0002 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Shibuya, 1 Chome−5−6 B1F 3.54 km
INC Cocktails opened in late 2018 just a short walk from Shibuya Station. It’s a very large...
Hotel Wing International Meguro B1, 1-3-14, Meguro 3.57 km
Blues Alley Japan. is a sophisticated club with great food and an eclectic live schedule. It...
Fat Mama.jpg
5-16-17, Meguro Honcho, Meguro-Ku 3.57 km
Fat Mama is named after the great Herbie Hancock track from his album “Fat Albert Rotunda&#...
Genius.jpg
スズノビル1F, 3 Chome-2-10 Honchō, Nakano-ku 3.68 km
03-3372-347103-3372-3471
Genius was one of Shibuya’s more famous jazz cafes for more than 20 years before increasing...
Seabird inside.JPG
〒150-0002 東京都渋谷区渋谷2丁目3−4 3.79 km
03-3499-189003-3499-1890
Seabird is a lovely old cafe next to Aoyama Gakuin University, between Shibuya and Omotesando sta...
Kashiwagi Mura2 7-20-12, Nishi-Shinjuku 3.83 km
Swanky live club, heavy on the vocalists. Enjoyable but a bit soft for my tastes. It’s the ...
1−28−9, Shibuya, Yoyogi 3.86 km
Music Bar is part of the new development Yoyogi Village (read more about it here. It’s no...
Ribbon outside.jpg
Watanabe Bldg B2 Ginza 8-6-19 3.88 km
The Ribbon is what most people would think of when hearing the words “Ginza Jazz”. It...
Stardust inside.JPG
Minami Bldg B1 Asagaya-Kita 2-13-5 3.88 km
03-3337-132503-3337-1325
Masuda-san sadly passed away in 2012. Stardust is an old bar, first opened in Asagaya in 1971 ...
Tom inside.JPG
Inaba Bldg , 2F Asagaya-Minami 3-28-31 3.88 km
03-3220-127503-3220-1275
吐夢 (Pronounced “To-mu” or just “Tom”) is unique in a couple of ways. ...
Cafe Ellington outside.jpg
Asagaya 3-37 3.88 km
Note: Closed in early 2015. I guess he couldn’t get many customers after all… Cafe El...
Scratch inside.JPG
Marco Polo Bldg 2F, 1-8-14 Hon-Chi, Kichijoji 3.88 km
Scratch is a quiet cafe/bar that’s been in heart of Kichijoji since 1974. They open durin...
Small Hours Cafe & Bar outside.jpg
Wako Bldg 1F 1-62-4 Kanda Jimbocho Chiyoda-Ku 3.88 km
03-5283-711703-5283-7117
Closed 2015 Small Hours is a new cafe/bar located in the back streets between Ochanomizu, Jimbo...
Ikebukuro Roudou Kijun Kyoukai Bldg B2, Ikebukuro 1-8-8 3.88 km
Jazz, Funk & Soul are on tap at Miles’ Cafe. The Ikebukuro area is not known for having...
Jazz Spot Dolphy.JPG
2F Dai Ichi Nishimura Bldg. 2F, 2-17-4 Miyagawa-cho, Naka-Ku 3.88 km
Jazz Spot Dolphy opened in 1980 but moved to its current location in 1990 and has kept up a ste...
1-36-12 Yoyogi Shibuya 4.01 km
Sister-branch of Naru in Ochanomizu
Jingumae, 3 Chome−5−2 4.21 km
Gekko Sabou (月光茶房 “moon-light-tea-chamber”, a wonderful name) is not a jazz cafe/...
Pearl Bar outside.JPG
Higashi Shin Bldg , 4F, 3-21-7, Shinjuku, Shunjuku-Ku 4.45 km
Pearl Bar is a real sleek “grown up” jazz bar in the center of Shinjuku. Lots of cock...
Samurai inside.JPG
Mori Bldg. 5F, 3-35-5, Shinjuku-Ku 4.53 km
Samurai is located in the building that used to house the Shinjuku Pit-Inn before they moved to t...
IMG_2862.JPG
B1, 3-35-12 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku 4.57 km
Jazz Pepe is as old school as it gets. Opened in 1969 by the now 77 year old Okuma-san, Pepe is a...
matchgreen.jpg
Nishi-shinjuku 1-4-20, Shinjuku-Ku 4.58 km
The Vagabond is a classic joint right next to the West Exit of Shinjuku station. I think the revi...
Old+Cat_-2.jpg
3-26-2 Shinjuku Shinjuku Tokyo 4.64 km
03-3354-935403-3354-9354
The Old Blind Cat in Shinjuku has a long and fascinating history, as much as any jazz bar in town...
Hals Jazz outside.jpg
Daikan Plaza B-306, 7-10-17 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku 4.71 km
It’s all about vinyl at Hal’s Jazz. Owner Ikeda-san keeps a few racks of cds in the c...
Jazz Room Stick inside.jpg
3 Chome−22, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 4.76 km
Jazz Room Stick is a great old jazz joint in the heart of Shinjuku, located almost directly beh...
FS Bldg 4F, 3-20-6 Shinjuku 4.82 km
This is a quiet piano bar with live music nightly though more BGM style, not really a live club. ...
curtisinside.jpg
Shinjuku-Ku, 3-chome 8-5 4.88 km
Curtis is one of my favorite bars in Tokyo. As the name gives away, this is a soul music bar with...