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A GINZA SIX Adventure

Takuya Ebe


The district where I live has an old shopping street named Ginza. In the past, this was apparently a vibrant place teeming with shoppers, but I’ve only ever known it as a quaint and quiet little street. There’s a guide map posted at the entrance, but with so many years gone by, it’s not all that helpful. On the handwritten map, you can find a block with the name Ginroku Shokai. I saw the characters “Gin” and “Roku,” which means six, and immediately thought of GINZA SIX. On assignment at a shopping street named Ginroku Shotengai in Togoshi Ginza, I thought the same thing. My brain somehow replaced Ginroku with GINZA SIX; it was weird. What’s more, in the town where I was born and raised, there’s a sushi shop named Ginpachi Sushi, and whenever I go home and pass by the shop, I think “GINZA EIGHT;” it seems to have lodged in my mind. In the midst of my daily life, I’m a bit surprised to find GINZA SIX so often on my mind.

Having said this, I think I actually only venture into GINZA SIX maybe once a month or so. Maybe less. I along walk Chuo-dori Avenue and find myself drawn in through the door a few times a year. When that happens, it automatically occurs to me: I have to go to the sixth floor. No, the number 6 has no special meaning for me. It’s just that the sixth floor is where the restaurants are. That’s the reason. And, basically, I’m hungry. Suppressing the desire to stop by Ginza Tsutaya Books—also on the sixth floor—I head to Tamarind, an Indian restaurant.

“It’s best not to resist the lure of curry.” These words of wisdom were spoken to me by the lunch lady thirty years ago when I was in college. I attend to them even today. Now, I’m at Tamarind.
With Japanese Indian restaurants becoming more specialized of late, it’s nice to see Tamarind is neither North nor South India. It’s omnidirectional. The chefs, too, I’m told, are from northern and southern India. I ask to hear a little more about this. The chef, smiling from ear to ear, says, with some difficulty, “Japanese is difficult.”

“I see,” I say. So this really is India. The vibrant colors inside; a menu that naturally features Rumali Roti, a thin Indian flatbread that folds like a handkerchief and which is rare to find in Japan; the voices of customers speaking in various tongues—this is more a true Indian restaurant than an Indian restaurant run by Japanese for Japanese. Makes total sense. In all of Ginza, perhaps this place is closest to India.

Today, I order, from North India, the standard Chicken Butter Masala and Saag Chicken, made with spinach. From South India, I order Stewed Chicken, a white curry from Kerala, and Malabar Fish Curry, with an aroma of coconuts (1,580 yen each; all prices listed before tax).
Am I gluttonous? Perhaps. But the aroma of spices stimulates my appetite, and I’m powerless to halt the motions of my spoon! The flavor of the quite standard standard… yes, yes, this is the curry I’ve wanted. I find myself beaming.

The joy of Tamarind transcends food. Sit at the table in the back when it’s vacant and go ahead and press the buttons behind you. Now look toward the kitchen—see the stars light up! If you love what you’re eating, go ahead and give them three stars. It’s a charming, whimsical arrangement bound to delight all, the chefs included.

“Do you know why eating curry makes you want to drink a cup of coffee?”
This question was put to me by a waitress at a coffee shop I went to almost every day in high school. I never found myself wanting to drink coffee after eating curry, so, of course I didn’t know why. It must be an adult thing, I thought. I continue to eat curry after so many years. I do sometimes want a cup of coffee after curry, but I don’t know why. I want to ask the waitress, but the coffee shop is no longer there.

I go from the sixth floor of GINZA SIX up to the thirteenth floor to Grand Cru Café Ginza. I want some coffee.

I’m having coffee after curry, but this isn’t an ordinary coffee shop. It’s a café produced by José Yoshiaki Kawashima, coffee hunter extraordinaire, known as a place for dazzling coffee experiences. It gives off an exalted and mysterious air. It feels a bit like Twin Peaks, as if it may have appeared in one of Agent Cooper’s dreams. With a corresponding sense of tension, and even a little trepidation, I step inside.

And I enter an atmosphere where the conventional conceptions of coffee appear to have vanished. The menu is a field guide. The writing is reflective. It presents the café’s coffees, selected from the world over. So, which to choose? I vacillate between Geisha and Blue Mountain and end up going with the latter. At that coffee shop in high school, Blue Mountain was 2,000 yen a cup—I never had it, not even once.

What makes authentic Blue Mountain coffee? I had only the vaguest notions, but thanks to the detailed explanation by coffee evangelist Shusuke Hasegawa, my knowledge deepens. Information is a key component behind what you find delicious.
Blue Mountain Juniper Peak in a champagne bottle (from 15,000 yen) appears. It’s ground on the spot, dripped, and served in an early-period Old Noritake cup. The flavor, the aroma, the aftertaste—pure bliss.

Incidentally, they’ll keep the bottle you order in their cellar so you can receive free coffee for up to 2 weeks, as long as the beans have not run out. I’ve never had a bottle kept for me at a Ginza club. I never thought the day would come when I would keep a bottle of coffee at GINZA SIX.

On my way back, I pop into Snow Peak Mobile on the fifth floor. I’ve been to India, to Jamaica, and now, finally, I return to my hometown. Snow Peak is a world-famous outdoor gear brand from Sanjo, Niigata, where I was born and raised. It’s a joy to get that hometown feeling in the middle of Ginza.

This is the first concept shop in the world to advance a new, urban style of multihabitation. Dreaming my days of multihabitation will arrive someday, I sojourn around the shop and try on the Indigo TAKIBI Vest (34,000 yen), a handy thing to have when starting campfires. Snow Peak syncs with my hometown, and now I’m feeling nostalgic. I think back to making fires with my grandfather out in our backyard when I was kid, a heart-warming memory.

Near the entrance, I find a cool bottle. Hey, it’s sake! I ask, and the idea is sake for the outdoors. Very interesting. I inspect the bottle: it’s Soujo Kubota Seppou (3,000 yen), developed jointly by Snow Peak with Asahi-Shuzo brewery. I lean a little further forward. I imagine myself enjoying a cup of sake in front of a campfire. I can’t get enough, but I think I’ll save it for after retirement.

I descend to the first floor and exit GINZA SIX onto Chuo-dori. On my way home, in the middle of Ginza, my neighborhood shopping street comes back to mind. Far-off foreign lands, the town where I was born, and the place I live now. They all connect in a swirl, filling me with happiness as I return to the station.

Text: Takuya Ebe Photos: Kanako Noguchi Edit: Yuka Okada(81)


Takuya Ebe

Born in 1969. Joined President Inc. after graduating from Waseda University. Worked in President’s editorial department, then joined the editing team at dancyu in 2006. Served as editor-in-chief of dancyu from September 2012 to July 2017, overseeing 55 issues. Launched dancyu web as editor-in-chief in November 2017.



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