It is very hard to find disgusting food in Japan. In most restaurants, you can expect to thoroughly enjoy the food. This is because the Japanese cook with love. They seem to be willing to sacrifice profits for delivering happiness. Instead of cutting corners for a quick windfall, they’d settle for less each time. They’d rather profit sustainably over the long run. This concept of leaving money on the table is quite unique to the Japanese.
JBS - Jazz Blues and Soul, is a small bar in Tokyo. The owner, Kobayashi Kazuhiro is an old man that amassed a huge collection of vinyl records throughout the years. He’s got 10,000 of them. Every night, he plays maestro and curates a playlist for customers. You buy a drink and enjoy his music choices. Every drink is priced at 250 yen. He skips the expensive whiskeys with jacked up prices. I asked him why. He answered: he’d rather keep his customer’s decision simple - being able to choose anything you want for 250 yen.
The same ideology can be found all across Japan. Torikizoku is a yakitori (grilled chicken) franchise that has the same price for everything on the menu - 298 yen. Choose either drinks or skewers and it’s the same - 298 yen.
It’s truly liberating to be able to order anything from the menu without any cost considerations. We love this place and consistently visit each time we come to Japan.
Back at the bar, Kazuhiro-san wipes the dust off a record, places it on the turntable and lowers the tone arm. The next song starts playing. For a bar, it’s rather quiet - almost library-like. Some customers talk quietly but most of them did not even talk, and focused on listening. The quiet ambient, coupled with intentional listening heightens the joy of discovering a new track, and brings new meaning to old ones.
Personally, I think this is a great way to enjoy music better - it needs to be savoured, not binged. Music streaming services encourage thirsty consumption of music. Thirsty consumption does not satisfy the soul - it provides an upfront dopamine hit, but with a debt to pay. What’s enough before is not enough anymore. It drives us down an endless pit.
In contrast to binging, slowly consuming an enjoyable experience is key to living a long and purposeful life. It’s no wonder the Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world. They withdraw slowly from their purpose bank. Not all at once, but bit by bit over the years in a sustainable way.