Remember how I was talking about shoebox-sized businesses here in Tokyo? Well, around the corner from Eat A Peach in Shimokitazawa is the Apollo Jazz Bar. As you walk by on the narrow street outside, the sound of pro musicians jamming wafts up the steps from this basement grotto, calling you in like the Pied Piper. Apollo has seats for eight, and the players often outnumber the audience. The owner’s taste is eclectic: one night it’s Afro-Jazz, the next it’s Brazilian, Blues, or Progressive, but it’s always astoundingly top-notch. You can sit at the bar with your drink, or at one of the tables right in the middle of the band, watching the guitarist with lightning fast fingers, and the drummer who sounds like about ten guys rolled into one.
Q: In the world’s most expensive city, how much do you think an evening like this costs?
A: A little over $20 for the cover charge and a beer.
Last Saturday’s lineup featured a drummer who plays with a famous band, a six-string bass player and Takayuki Otsuka, the guitarist with blurry fingers. But do me a favor: please don’t tell anybody! I want there always to be a place at Apollo for ME!
Read a novel set in Tokyo
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!