METROPOLIS | CLASSIFIEDS | PERSONALS | JOBS
LIFE IN JAPAN
Carmine Cozzolino
Carmine Cozzoline
Photo by Maki Nibayashi

Occupation:
Restaurant Owner/Chef
Time in Japan:
20 years



Where are you from?
Italy, of course!

What brought you to Japan?
When I was 18 (in 1972) there was a martial arts boom led by Bruce Lee and Hong Kong movies. I wanted to be just like Bruce so I started doing martial arts, focusing on aikido. It became my dream to visit Japan. I had already set myself up as a chef when I was 15 so I came to practice aikido and maybe one day become a teacher or master. Then I stayed.

How did all your restaurants come about?
When I first arrived, there weren' too many Italian restaurants. The ones that called themselves Italian came from America where they used ketchup and called it tomato sauce. Cooking was the only thing I could do, so I worked as a chef to make a living because I wanted to do aikido. Eight years later, I had to decide what to do to stay in Japan. If I stayed, I wanted my own business. So I opened up my own restaurant in 1987, called Carmine, in Kagurazaka. I can say that I was the first to spread the Italian food boom in Tokyo. Before I had my own restaurant, I worked for an Italian restaurant that cost a lot of money, about \15,000 a head. When I opened one, I didn't charge so much which itself became a trend and since then I've opened six restaurants with my seventh to open soon. The menus in my restaurants are always changing so you can experience a different taste each time you visit.

Tell us about your new venture.
Well, after I opened my first restaurant, I wanted to expand. My plan is to have many good restaurants, with good service, good food and an overall good feeling about the place. I have five restaurants at present and my newest restaurant will open in Nishi Azabu this year. Each restaurant has a different style. The new one will be a place for adults, where there is an international atmosphere with the main language being English. We'll stay open till late, have good music, have our bar open till late and prepare dishes that go well with wine and other drinks. I want it to have a very romantic feel.

What is your favorite thing about Japan?
I like everything about Japan. I've been here twenty years, and stayed of my own free will, so the answer is "everything."

What was your strangest experience here?
Of course when I first arrived, I was a bit culture-shocked but everything that happens to me is through natural causes so I don't feel that anything is really strange.

What's your recipe for a happy life in Japan?
Enjoy life. As a restaurant owner, I recommend eating good things, sitting down, having a nice meal. Too many people in Tokyo are busy. Eating good food is very important. You can be very poor, living in a four tatami mat room, but just by going to a nice restaurant, drinking good wine and eating good food, you feel rich inside and can make your everyday life bearable.

Carmine Cozzolino spoke to Maki Nibayashi.

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? If so, email us at maki@tokyoclassified.com

LIFE IN JAPAN:
360: Gustavo Marchesi
Professional tango dancer
355: Alec McAulay
Filmmaker
352/3: Mary Frenzel
Professional singer / songwriter, bandleader & voice instructor
350: Kate Smurthwaite
Bond analyst and aspiring novelist
349: Tim Spangler
Recreational Equipment, Inc.
348: Robin Rozzell
Tribal Nation Security
347: Marco Invernizzi
Bonsai artist
346: Charles E McJilton
Advocate
345: Chris Chavez
Dancer/Singer
344: Donna Burke
Singer and narrator
343: Dennis Sun
Artist, freelance graphic design and illustrator
342: Martin Hope Berry
Natural food shop owner
341: Donald James Berry
Technical Adviser
340: Amy Jorrisch
Tokyo International Players
339: Anthony Al-Jamie Ph.D.
Education consultant and journalist
338: Joel Silverstein
President of Outback Steakhouse Japan
337: Neal Dauber
Termite and Pest Control Operator
336: Marcus Spurrell
CEO of No Mass Media, Internet Co.
335: Stefan Fanselow
Flight Instructor
334: Colleen Lanki
Theater Artist
333: Ben Leibson
Scuba Diver
332: Bernard Yu
Executive Director of TELL
331: Hayden "Hay-chan" Majajas
Informations Systems Manager
330: Alistair McLachlan
BootsMC Finance manager
329: Ronald Lee Davis
Missionary / Teacher
328: Ed Durbrow
Musician
327: Isabelle Maranda
Marketing Coordinator
326: Brian Marcus
Food & Beverage Director at Tokyo American Club
325: David Baran
Managing Partner, Compass Partners
324: Murali Kupusami
Furla Tea & Coffee Owner/Model
323: Angela Jones
Fire Dancer
322: Tim Tsang
Coordinator for International Relations (CIR)
321: Chris Monnier
Drummer
320: David Snyder
President of Rising Crane Sports Consultants, Inc.
319: Juliet Hindell
BBC's Tokyo Correspondent
318: Sid Lloyd
Football team captain
317: Niels Frederik Walther
Chef for the Danish Ambassador
316: Jonathan Katz
Jazz musician and composer
315: Yoichi Hayase
President, True Travel, K.K.
314: Ira Bolden
Program Manager
313: Benjamin Gurnsey
Corporate Communications at Sony Computer
312: Dr Jonna D. Douglass, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Family Therapist
311: Roy Kilner
Izakaya Manager
310: Neil Day
Senior Software Research Engineer
309: Stuart Ablett
Sakaya Operator
308: Maggie Tai Tucker
Animal Trainer
307: Carmine Cozzoline
Restaurant Owner/Chef
306: Alison Noonan
Cellist
305: Kevin Meyerson
Rainbow Japan Inc. President
304: Randy McGraw
DirecTV Marketing Manager
303: Roy Ron
Researcher
302: Antonio Plozay-Liberatore
Economist/TV Talent
300: Miguel Angel
Bartender

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