Tuesday, January 02, 2007
New Year's Day (2007) - Pt. 4 -The Liquor Shop
This particular post isn't as much about New Year's day happenings as it is about a local liquor shop which is pretty unusual in Japan. However, the pictures were taken on New Year's day and some of the activities are unique to that day so I'm closing out my reports with it.
This particular shop has several unique attributes. The first one is that they sell a great deal of imported beer from around the world. If you've been thirsting fo a particular brew and haven't seen it since you arrived in Tokyo, this place has a pretty good chance of selling it. Some of the stand-outs are Henry Weinhard's and Anchor Steam which are west coast brands. They also have Rolling Rock and Guiness. My husband, who is the only one in our household who drinks alchohol, said there are over 40 varieties including Mexican, German and Chinese beer varieties. It doesn't come cheap though as the prices tend to be about $3-$3.50 a bottle.
On New Year's day, they were standing out in front (as pictured above) giving free drinks of sake from wooden boxes (masu). The fellow doing the pouring offered my husband a drink but he declined since he's not much into wine of any sort.
These boxes are traditionally made of cypress wood and the serving fellow was setting them aside after each drink. I'm wondering who got the unhappy task of having to wash them all out after passersby had had their fill.
The second point that makes this shop unique is that they are extremely foreigner-friendly. In fact, if you look at the "help wanted" sign above, all of it is in English as well as Japanese. That means they'd hire you even if you were a gaijin so long as you had a driver's license. It is relatively unusual for shops which do nor require a foreign language as part of the work involved to be so open to foreigners. In fact, I've never seen a sign like this anywhere else in Tokyo.
The subject of signs leads me to the next unique aspect of this shop and that is that the English on the signs (click this one to read it more easily) is always correct. My husband tells me that he has seen foreigners working at the shop around the time of the tanabata festival celebration in our area. I'm not sure what the connection is but these people could be a poster business/family for a truly internationalized Japan. They present a culturally-integrated front more than any small business I've ever seen.
Finally, my favorite unique aspect of this place is that they have had a cat at the front desk off and on during all of the years we've been going by this place. The cat isn't always there, mind you, but his box is always there. I'm guessing he can't always hang out around the cash register because he's got important business to attend to.
This cat is rather unique-looking because he has a moustache-like coloration under his nose but he's much more than that if you look closely enough.
This is a focus on another angle. The picture hanging on the wall says "business manager" and he has his own business card taped to his box. These people have a great sense of humor, and they allow you to take pictures inside the shop without hesitation. They almost make me wish I was a drinker so I could patronize them more often.