I am a chef by profession and for eight years I was the executive chef at the Tokyo
American Club. I accomplished my goals in the first five years and the last three were
gravy. I wanted to institute a more American-style sort of food, and I did that. I was
making a lot of money, running five restaurants and 120 employees, but I had enough.
The bar business has always fascinated me. I have always wanted to have my own bar.
It's a good opportunity to meet people and to network. So much of today's communication is
done on the Internet or whatever, so why not bring some more human contact into that
If you have been to an izakaya or other type of bar whatever, the bartender makes your
drink professionally, but as soon as he serves it, you're toast. He doesn't care about you
anymore. There is no communication. Here you get just the opposite. I may forget your
drink, but I'm still in your face.
I get to meet people, I get to direct their attention to other people they can network
with and that is most important to me. I just like to lighten people up a little bit. Life
out there is s--t. Lets face it. If you come upon an oasis, what do you expect? You want
some water, a drink and to be refreshed. And that's what I offer here.
This is not a short-term project. This is my life now, so I will expand. Life in Japan
is affable, and I plan to die here. I like Japan for the most part, but they are not shy
about taking my tax money and not giving me the right to vote; its an anomaly. Taxation
Another thing I really don't like about this country is that the Japanese nationals
that live here and the government are so slow to react to any crisis that arises. It is
very troublesome to me. I recall the big airline crash in '85 when five hundred or so
people died. They dragged this live girl from the wreckage, some guy hanging from a
helicopter, he's dragging her up a line. Efficiency is not a word that I would use
synonymous with Japan. It blows me away.
What is most important for your life is to be decent. Just be decent. I'm not out here
to hurt you and you aren't out here to hurt me. Just be decent. Like this kid in Kobe
cutting off the little kids head. Weird!
As a bartender, you have got to be a lot of things. You have got to be a priest, the
confessional, you have to forget everything as soon as they walk out, you have to remember
names, faces. The majority of my customers come to simply enjoy freedom, and I'm real big
If anyone asked what this bar was about, I would say that its about humans. Come in and
be human. I don't see man, or woman, black or white, Japanese, nothing. I see humans.
That's why this is here. And we need more places like this because society is so
Paul spoke with Julie Ueno
info: D.B. Cooper's
Shibuya-ku, Shibuya, 2-7-13-2F
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