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BAR ARCHIVE:
499: AGAVE
498: Miss Sixty Café
497: The Pink Cow
496: Cantik
495: Billiard Bar Cosmo
494: Soma
493: Hajime
492: Rm.39
491: Coopers
490: Bar Nemesis
489: Franziskaner Bar & Grill
488: NOS
487: Diego
486: Sekirei
485: Bonny Butterfly
484: So Ra Si O
483: Maduro
482: Space Punch
481: Cento Cose
480: Bamboo
479: Heartland
478: Sign
477: Yoshino
476: Omamori Cafe
475: So Bar
474: Traumaris
473: Naka Naka
472: Tsuki no Akari
471: Bar
470: These
469: Atomic Heart Mother
468: Soft
467: Milano Bar
466: Mother
465: Omocha
464: Insomnia 2
463: Lucusfloor
462: Pulse
461: Mahna Mahna
460: Ten
459: Trees'
457/8: Mayu
456: Lounge Sinner
454: Ja Ja Bar
453: See
452: Republica
451: Shanghai Bar
450: Tsuki no Kura

Issues 500+
Issues 449-
Issues 399-

 

by Carlo Niederberger

Sign

Finally escaping the air-conditioned confines of another day of cubicle-bound slavery, we felt the muggy air of a late spring evening warranted a stroll. Heading down Aoyama Dori, we found ourselves gravitating towards the stellar fixture of the artsy bar circuit Sign. Just a few paces from Gaienmae station's exit 3, the buzzing hangout's glass front affords an intimate view of the comings and goings of this smart little quarter of Tokyo. We managed to avoid the slightly cramped low picnic bench-style seating in the middle of the venue, settling for a bar table right up against the pink-framed window which proved to be the ultimate observation post. Slurping up a Cinzano on the rocks (¥600), Doubleberry Smoothie (¥700) and Black Russian (¥700), we took in the intricate courtship rituals of drunken office workers parting ways after a night on the tiles, then the fascinating sights of fans filing down into the subway after a baseball game at Jingu Stadium.

Luckily, on the languid night in question, Sign had an array of other amusements. The charming smiles of hypnotic hostess Mayumi ranked highly among the evening's attractions, but the sublime sounds of the chain-smoking DJ added a funky quality to our evening, and despite the hot pink entrance, our chosen venue had an air of exclusivity. Sign's neighborhood has a reputation as a hub for creative industries, and we spotted a high-profile PR bigwig and top designer among the well-turned out clientele seated at the tightly packed tables.

Returning to the lacquered pink menu to plan our next round, the creative connection became far clearer as we discovered a schedule of artist exhibitions held in the Sign Gallery in the basement. Softening our brains with a zingy rum-based XYZ (¥900) and Heinekens (¥700), we made the trip down into the whitewashed art space to find funky graphic artworks, some screen printed onto T-shirts. The folks behind this establishment never miss a trick and the aforementioned T-shirts, along with art books and trinkets were on sale at reasonable prices, as well as the CDs courtesy of Daikanyama's Bonjour Records that were on display beside the DJ booth. We agreed that the tasteful balance of the cultural with the commercial had been most agreeable, and as the evening wore on, the crowds descending the stairs to the station thinned, and we made our way home happy to have added such a happening spot to our bar repertoire. Martin Webb

Open Mon-Fri 10am-midnight, Sat and Sun 11am-midnight. Yamazaki Bldg. 2-7-18 Kita-Aoyama. Tel: 03-5474-5040. Nearest stn: Gaienmae, exit 3.

Photo credit: Roberto Radimir