This column is perhaps a bit too personal, and I apologize in advance. But something I enjoy immensely is to drink by myself, at the bar counter of an izakaya (a Japanese pub). Although I have a rule that I would make the best use of any time I get for myself, I find it hard to beat any time spent with delicious Japanese sake and food. Especially in recent years, as I have become increasingly busier, the time I spent at the bar counter is very much what I like to call ‘blissful moments’.
There is an izakaya called Hairansho in Wakamatsu, near our Aizu factory, and it is the ideal place for these blissful moments: exquisite meat dishes, locally sourced, fresh fish, all complimented by local Aizu sake. Ask anyone in Aizu and they are bound to know this izakaya.
The man who runs the bar is a man called “Kazu-kun”. He took over in difficult circumstances, after the previous proprietor suddenly departed from this world. He has managed to keep alive the precise taste that defined this well-established izakaya, and what’s more, he has managed to take it to another level. His rich knowledge of Japanese sake, a sophisticated sense for food and, above all, his sunny disposition, have earned him the affectionate nickname “Kazu-kun” among his regulars.
I hesitate to say so, but I also consider myself a ‘second generation Kazu-kun’. We both picked up the torch from those who came before us, and we encourage each other to be humble and do our best for the sake of our customers. He is younger than me but given his devotion to recognize and satisfy his customers’ needs, I regard him as my superior. He makes me want to push myself further as a manager.
I’ve just one request for Kazu-kun. I want to keep enjoying delicious food and sake for the rest of my life, so, please allow me some moderation now and then (with some self-discipline on my part.)