Another year ahead, and another semi-lockdown currently in the Tokyo Metro Area. But jazz spots are still open, even if they’ll have reduced hours and earlier starting times for gigs until the end of February.
The jazz joint world is a bit in flux; the oldest remaining jazz bar in Tokyo is Charmant, first opened in 1955. Sadly the rickety building it’s on the second floor of is being torn down, so the current owner is looking for a new location nearby in the northern neighborhood of Nippori. I’ll have the scoop on that as soon as news comes in. Until then, you only have until the end of Feb to drink in the original space before they close, an unmissable jazz bar experience. Get there early though when they open at 6pm, otherwise you won’t get one of the 10 counter seats. And Charmant is only open Wed, Fri and Sat nights!
Chigusa in Yokohama at its original location was the first jazz cafe in Japan, opened in 1933. Currently in it’s second location (only down the street from the original), it too is facing redevelopment, and will be moving to an as yet undisclosed new spot in Yokohama. Hopefully they’ll keep the same amazing decor they have now, as the history of jazz in Japan just jumps out at you soon as you enter. More on Chigusa coming soon as well.
It’s not all bad news though, as several new spots have opened up including the lovely Donato near Ochanomizu. I’ve got three additional jazz spot profiles coming soon in the Directory, plus I’ll continue updating all the older shop profiles throughout the year.
This year I’ll also continue visiting jazz cafes and bars throughout the country, with rural Kyushu coming up next month, then all around the Kansai region in summer; keep a lookout on my Instagram page for pics as I add to my total of 220 jazz spots visited throughout Japan. And of course I’ll continue the OK Jazz Podcast and the K.O.L. Radio website as always.
Stay tuned, and keep swinging!
James (Mr. OK Jazz) Jan 2022