JAZZ IN JAPAN
5F, 3-35-5, Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
last Sunday free jazz jam session
Open Hours 18:00-25:00
Two-minute walk from the South-East Exit of JR Shinjuku Station. Head downstairs and along the raised street that runs along the raised street along the south exit of Shinjuku station. The building is a small one, about three down from the corner, with a small entrance to the left, across from the raised street.
It’s hard not to immediately fall in love with Samurai. The room is packed with so many things, hundreds of “manneki-neko,” “welcoming cats,” for one, but also including photos, odd lamps, hanging scrolls, dried flowers, figurines, vases and anything else that fits. You are bopped visually as well as aurally.
But despite the hundreds of cat eyes looking down on you, Samurai is a serious jazz listening hangout. Their slogan says it best: “Drinkin’ Listenin’ Relaxin.’” All three of those come easy here. Samurai has a more open, looser, wilder view of jazz than many of the more traditional jazz kissaten. It is more of a “jazz bar,” since it’s mainly open in the evening.
The collection of music collection definitely runs to free jazz and improvised music. The “master” has excellent taste, so fans of free jazz should be sure to ask him for recommendations or just kick back and listen. His collection of straight-ahead music is just as substantial, which makes it nice to listen back and forth between genres.
Samurai also hosts a free jazz session on the third Sunday of the month from 15:00 to 18:00. Call to ask for details, but this is quite unique, as most jazz jam sessions tend towards the traditional.
Food and drinks are reasonable, with pizza, fried noodles (‘yakisoba’), potatoes, salad and pilaf the main comfort foods. Drinks are beer, whiskey and the usual suspects. Try his special homemade liquors for something special.
Samurai is the most unpretentious, otherworldly space you can imagine, which makes it easy sinking into the great sound system and unique vibe. The hundreds of lucky porcelain cats beckon and welcome you in to the world of jazz in just the right way!