In the Warm Darkness

essay, Mar. 2019

mao nakazawa

When I get busy or bogged down with my work, eventually I always seek a coffee bar escape. After I finish taking pictures in my photography job, or after my eyes get tired from looking at the computer too much, or when I notice that I haven’t talked to anyone for a whole day—I always head to a cafe/bar called Coffee Bar Gallage. It’s in Higashi-Nakano, in the west side of Tokyo (1). That means, almost every day I visit there.

When I moved to Higashi-Nakano, my heart was filled with sad memories, and I was feeling as if I would be left alone in the middle of the darkness. This was when I found Coffee Bar Gallage. Since I started visiting there, my heart healed gradually.

This is a picture of the day when I first visited Coffee Bar Gallage. I always feel a bit nervous when I go to a restaurant or cafe for the first time by myself, but this time I challenged myself to try it.

There were two bartenders at the bar who looked slightly scary with their serious expressions. But once I talked with them, I immediately knew they were very friendly. While I enjoyed chatting with them, many customers came in one after another.

That night I tried a cocktail with an unique combination of a Gin and tonic and fruity coffee. This is why this cafe is named Coffee Bar Gallage, as it offers coffee cocktails. The cocktail I drank went through my throat very smoothly, and after I drank, I felt very refreshed and relaxed. My first visit became an unforgettable night.

One cold winter night, the bartenders of Coffee Bar Gallage recommended that I try this whiskey Bowmore aged 10 years, split by hot water, and with cloves, cinnamon, and sugar cubes added. Holding a cup with both hands and drinking, my body got warm from the inside, as if I would finally reach here after wandering through a mountain in heavy snow.

Coffee Bar Gallage dims the lights at night, and at first, I felt uncomfortable with the darkness. But now I got used to it, and on the contrary, I began to feel other cafes and bars were too bright. That’s why I became a regular customer of Coffee Bar Gallage.

In such darkness, flames of the candles are swaying, cigarette smoke is rising, and ices in the glasses are shining in a rainbow color. Such romantic night scenes make me feel relaxed, and make me say “delicious” immediately after I take a sip. Actually, this happens because the darkness of Coffee Bar Gallage makes my five senses clearer than usual. Coffee Bar Gallage surely taught me how to really enjoy delicious drinks: makes your senses clear in the darkness and focus on the taste.

Walking at night in Higashi-Nakano, I always find a warm orange light coming through windows of Coffee Bar Gallage. I open the door, though it is still dark inside, but its darkness is definitely different from the one outside. Only one drink is enough. It surely cheers me up to face work tomorrow.

Way to go:
To Coffee Bar Gallage from Shinjuku station:
Open Google map

Footnote:
1. Higashi-Nakano is located only two train stations from Shinjuku, and takes only 20 minutes from Roppongi. The north side of Higashi-Nakano is very local and leaves an old skyline, where you can enjoy pubs and cafes.

written by

mao nakazawa

Photographer and essayist. Born in 1988, Tokyo, Japan. Based in Tokyo.
I am updating my blogs "record of tokyo" with film photographs.
Feel free to contact me!

website: cameranakazawa.com
instagram: @_maonakazawa_
twitter: @_maonakazawa_

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