The Tokyo Diaries: Drinking Wine in a Bookshop!?

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After a couple of rather stressful weeks, which included a minor car accident, I was more than ready to go on leave, and as I am sure you have figured out by the title of this post – I am in Tokyo! When I was last in London, you may remember my London Diaries series. It was essentially a series of mini restaurant reviews. I have decided to do something similar for my time in Japan, but the posts will incorporate the food I eat as well as some of the interesting spots I have visited along the way.

I’ve been to Japan once before two years ago. You see a good university friend of mine (Joe) has lived here for over three years now, so it’s the perfect excuse to jump on a plane. But it’s further away than you think. Well than I thought, anyway. I thought that being all “central” in Dubai, Tokyo would be a mere hop skip and a jump away. It’s not. It’s a nine hour flight!

The great thing about visiting friends abroad is that you end up experiencing places you may not have ever found on your own. Joe’s good friend from home, Sam, lives here too, so while Joe was at work she “baby-sat” me (supplied me with food and wine!). So, since sharing is caring and all that jazz, let’s get started shall we?

Between consuming far too much Sake in a quirky little bar in Yoyogi-Uehara (代々木上原) on my first night and having a body clock five hours behind, I didn’t end up waking up the following morning until about 11am!

Sake

We met for lunch at Château Mercian in Roppongi-itchōme Station. It sounds french, but the restaurant is actually an off-shoot of one of Japan’s largest and most famous wineries in Yamanashi. We were there during the business lunch, which consisted of a range of set-menu options. We all chose a bowl of Japanese-style bolognese and rice (the Japanese have a strange obsession with Italian food), a cold glass of Rose wine from the vineyard, and a bowl of steaming hot miso soup. From what I actually ate, it was enjoyable. Joe hoovering up my leftovers indicated a reasonable level of deliciousness, though. Sake-infused Harry wasn’t quite ready to consume anything yet.

Château Mercian

Château Mercian

Château Mercian

Knowing full-well that all I needed was to sit down, Joe begrudgingly headed back to work for the afternoon, while Sam and I decided to go and drink wine in a bookshop in Daikanyama. If I tried to do that in the UK, I would probably end up with an ASBO, but fear-not – it was in fact a cafe/restaurant-style affair. I love bookshops. I have spent HOURS in the three story Waterstones at the end of Gower Street in London, and Kinikuniya Book Store in Dubai Mall is arguably one of my favourite spots in Dubai. So you can only imagine my excitement when I found out that I was going to be able to combine two of my favourite things – wine and bookshops – into one glorious experience.

Tsutaya Books

I found what I thought was a rather adorable 2D dog statue outside. But after posing with him and seeing the picture, realised that the chap really should have been wearing a pair of knickers. He was definitely male, if you know what I mean.

Dog

We sunk down into the large brown leather sofas of Anjin Library & Lounge with a glass of red wine in hand, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling shelves of vintage magazines. The only obvious next addition to the equation was a cheese board. Cheese is somewhat pricey on these shores, and the Japanese like to keep portions small. So, while entirely delicious, the cheese board only supplied us with about four mouthfuls per person. We both agreed that we would have been capable of tackling at least four more boards. Each. But we refrained from the ridiculous notion, and instead ordered another glass of wine. Excellent alternative, don’t you think?

Tsutaya Books

Tsutaya Books

The evening drew in rather quickly – funny how that happens when wine is your primary activity. For dinner, we headed to Izakayaism in Shimokitazawa. I think that deserves its own post entirely, though. The food was amazing. So watch this space for that post in the not too distant future. I am now going to sit on the door step with an ice-cold Asahi, and watch the thunder storm. There’s nothing better than rain with an agenda. None of that pathetic British drizzle. Proper, street river-forming downpour! Over and out, amigos.

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