Japan railway Negishi-line, Sakuragi-cho station. about 7min. walking.
By local train, 45 minutes from Tokyo Station.
A lot of people were left feeling blue after Chigusa, Japan’s oldest jazz cafe, closed in 2007 when the Noge district of Yokohama where it had been serving Satchmo with its coffees since 1933 fell victim to developers.
Now, though, they can kick out the jams and return to their haunt with its 3,000 jazz records, thanks to a group of long-time aficionados and locals who have succeeded in resurrecting Chigusa near to where it was originally opened in 1933 by the renowned Mamoru Yoshida, who died in 1994 aged 81.
Masataka Yusa, a regular at this mecca of jazz culture in Japan who heads the self-styled Chigusa Kai (Chigusa Association), said he is excited to have successfully resurrected the cafe whose name meaning “autumn grasses” was what the business there was called when Yoshida acquired the property.
“I want many people to come here and enjoy the classics of jazz,” the 63-year-old transport company chairman said this month as he enthused over the record collection that takes in swing, which was all the rage in the 1930s and ’40s, modern jazz that’s developed since World War II, and most everything else that could be classified as jazz.
“You can listen to the great sound through a new audio system and indulge yourself in the cozy atmosphere, which is different from being at a concert,” Yusa said before explaining that his passion for Chigusa goes back to 1960, when he started going there in junior high school.
“Modern jazz was very popular then as music and also as fashion. I was so amazed by the cool music and fashion of Miles Davis — who put on skinny pants,” Yusa said, recalling the late great trumpeter and seminal players of the modern jazz movement.
But it wasn’t only the latest records of Miles Davis and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers that attracted Yusa to the cafe — it was the owner, Yoshida, too.