Tokyo Jizake Strolling (Blue Note TOKYO)

By Ryuji Takahashi

Celebrating the New Year, Tokyo is still in the middle of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. I finished my work for 2020 on January 1, and started my New Years holiday on January 2. However, drinking at home is nothing different from the ordinary, so I attended a live jazz performance by Hiromi Uehara at the jazz club Blue Note Tokyo.
At the live performance titled “Save Live Music Returns Hiromi Piano Quintet,” jazz club Blue Note was thorough in their measures to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. Temperatures were taken, sterilization and social-distancing were practiced thoroughly. Cheering was prohibited during the live performance, which allowed only clapping instead. While meals are normally permitted, masks were required, which prohibited meals from being served, with only beverages served instead.
This was a live performance to celebrate the New Year, of course I wanted to enjoy sake. Staff at Blue Note must’ve been aware, as cask sake by Kikusui Sake Co., Ltd. (Shibata, Niigata) was placed right beside the entrance.
Funaguchi cup sake and Kikusui Gorohachi Nigori Sake are familiar brands. I’m sure many of our readers have seen the Funaguchi cup sake at the local grocery store. Needless to say, the sake menu listed only three sake selections by Kikusui Brewery: “Kikusui Organic Junmai Ginjo,” “Funaguchi Namagenshu,” and “Mukantei.” My recommendation is the cocktail “HARMONY,” combining Kikusui sake and plum wine with yuzu and apple juice, a beverage that reflects the live piano quintet. I wanted to try a beverage unique to Blue Note, rather than the usual Kikusui sake I could drink anytime, so I ordered the cocktail “HARMONY.” As I imagined, the cocktail was low in alcohol content, sweet, and easy to drink.
The sake flavor was detectable in the sake cocktail. Drinking since the evening of January 1, this was the perfect cocktail for me. On the other hand, the live piano performance by Hiromi Uehara was arranged with violins (1st and 2nd), a viola, and cello for the first time; a spectacular performance I couldn't take my eyes off of from beginning to end. Uehara changes the arrangement (quintet, solo, duo) on her long-running concert spanning eighteen days. However, the concert after the New Years was postponed mid-January, when Tokyo issued a state of emergency declaration on January 18. I look forward to the day we can cheer on a world-renowned jazz performance without hesitation, without wearing a mask.

「Save Live Music Returns Hiromi Piano Quintet」と題されたライブでコロナ対策は、さすがブルーノート。検温・消毒・ソーシャルディスタンスに関しては、完璧でライブ中歓声はNG、拍手のみといった徹底ぶりだった。通常食事も出来るのだが、基本はマスク着用になるので食事等は中止でドリンクだけが注文出来る様になっていた。