1-8, Yotsuya, Shinjuku, Tokyo
Saturday 14:00-23:50 (15:30-23:50 on the day of Asahi Culture Center class)
Closed on Sunday and public holiday
One minute walk from JR Yotsuya station. Head along Shinjuku Dori (the large street) from Yotsuya Station towards Shinjuku. Not far from the large intersection, Eagle is downstairs on the right-hand side.
Eagle is one of the longest running jazz kissaten in Tokyo. The cool, sleek interior has been there since 1967. The sound system is spectacular, with large JBL speakers, a choice of two CD players, pre-main amp and power amp, a Yamaha record player and Denon cartridge. In the old days, you could bring in your own cartridge, just to test it out, but it depends on who’s running the shop. Regardless of which equipment, though, the sound is stellar.
Seats are comfortable and graciously set apart. You can hear well anywhere, even with people eating the simple, substantial daily lunch set. Evenings, there is pasta, fried potatoes, meat pie, quiche and small pizza. But as with the best jazz kissaten, the music is the reason to go. The choice of jazz here tends towards the most straight-ahead, but the selection covers the 60s to the present day thoroughly. The staff choices are excellent, so it’s easy to kick back and not have to worry. The record jacket or CD cover is always placed so you can hear what’s playing.
Be sure to respect the rule of being quiet until 6 pm. Many jazz kissaten in the past were as strict as a library about no talking, and well they should be, since music deserves to be heard in the best possible environment for calm reflection and solitary listening. After 6 pm, it’s OK to talk, and is more of a jazz bar, though even at night, most people go there to breathe in, rather than breathe out. It’s easy to say why the café has been running for 50 years.