|A Caffe Latte at the Tower Records Cafe in Shibuya|
In one of my university textbooks on Japan, the author once described the country as having a bar culture which is a point that I do not disagree with at all. At the same time, I can describe my old stomping grounds of Tokyo as currently having a cafe culture. Now, there have been coffee shops in the Big Sushi for decades and decades with one of the venerable franchises being Renoir which has an interior design that has remained in the 80s at its most recent. But since the very first Starbucks in Tokyo set up its first branch in Ginza 20 years ago, there has been a mammoth influx of the famous chain along with other similar chains such as Excelsior Coffee. I would say that the Japanese have as much a need for caffeine as they do for alcohol.
For good or bad, a lot of my years in Japan have been spent professionally as well as personally in places like Starbucks, Doutor and private Mom and Pop cafes. Although it was somewhat awkward teaching a student in those places, when we were lucky enough to be in a nearly empty coffeehouse, the atmosphere was very conducive for study with some decent coffee and some jazz music helping out the lessons. If I were to actually write a book about my time in Japan, I would title it "My Life and Career in Cafes".
Well, all that preamble to introduce my first song of the week, "Tokyo Kissa" (Tokyo Coffee Shop) by capsule. Released as their 3rd single from October 2001, the song created by Yasutaka Nakata（中田ヤスタカ）was very much from their early period of Shibuya-kei. In fact, a number of the comments on YouTube have remarked at how much the duo of Nakata and Toshiko Koshijima（こしじまとしこ）sounded like good ol' Pizzicato Five. And I think the song seems to match the atmosphere of some of the more trendier cafes I've visited in downtown Tokyo. The only place in Toronto that I've been to which has had something similar in terms of decor is this gourmet donut cafe near Kensington Market called Jelly which would be perfect for Kyary Pamyu Kyary Pamyu.
Apparently there were two short-but-sweet music videos of "Tokyo Kissa". The one above has Koshijima so coquettishly singing the song in an apt setting of a cafe. I've always enjoyed the vocalist's eyes so it was a pity that she felt the need to cover them up when capsule decided to go full techno some years later.
Here is the other video done up in a cutesy sketchy anime style. "Tokyo Kissa" is also available on capsule's debut album, "High Collar Girl"（ハイカラ・ガール）from November 2001. You can also check out the other article I've written on the group, "Music Controller".