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Old school jazz and old school coffee: BIGBOY Jimbocho

What do you imagine when someone says Jimbocho on a Friday night? I usually think of Kanda-Jimbocho area as a Holy Land for secondhand book lovers, and curry fans. But then, there is also coffee, whisky, and jazz at a cafe and bar BIGBOY in Jimbocho! It was a pleasant surprise for me, waiting in a small nook just a few steps from Jimbocho Station.BIGBOYI wasn’t planning to visit any cafes, but His Majesty Jazz drew me in. Several men were sitting at the tables and at the counter.  All three tables were occupied by patrons (male, of course). So, I had no other choice but to sit at the counter and watch the owner make a cup of hand-dripped coffee for me.BIGBOYOld school jazz, combined with old school coffee and a mellow atmosphere of BIGBOY Jimbocho… I always treasure experiences like this. By the way, the coffee tasted great. It was a bit pricey (680 yen), but so much better than the cheap stuff you can buy on every corner. BIGBOY30 minutes later some patrons left, and the owner advised me to move to the best counter seat: in the middle between two huge loudspeakers (4343B Studio Monitor from JLB Professional series)! If you like music, you already know that it is a luxurious spot! That instantly reminded me of my childhood and my father’s passion for music. Loudspeakers at BIGBOY are much, much bigger than back at home.BIGBOY

It made me think that the name of the cafe refers to them. My second guess about the cafe’s name is that it was called after Frank “Big Boy” Goudie, an American jazz musician. And there is also a jazz song called “Big Boy” by Bix Beiderbecke. This beats me!

The owner established this jazz cafe and bar in 2009 after retiring. He told me that there are about 5 thousand vinyl records and 10 thousand CD’s at BIGBOY, and it is only a third of his extensive home collection.BIGBOYThe owner of BIGBOY is an aficionado of jazz, but also likes other 50s and 60s music. After I mentioned the Beatles in our conversation, he proudly showed 2 vinyl records, “Sergeant Pepper” and “Abbey Road”. I’m pretty sure that if they had to do something with jazz, he would have played them. I wish I had mentioned my favorite Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five” instead. As I was leaving, Chris Connor was singing her “Lullaby of Birdland”, and I promised myself (and the cafe owner) to come back someday.BIGBOY


BIGBOY Jazz cafe and bar

Address: 1-11 Jimbocho, Chiyoda, Tokyo
Distance to Airport: 24km from Haneda Airport
Opening Hours: noon – 5pm (coffee time), 7pm – 11pm (bar time), on Saturdays: noon – 6pm
Closed: on Sundays, every first and third Saturday of the week
Tel: 03-3233-4343
Access: a short walk from Jimbocho Station, exit A7
Official website: Jazz BIGBOY

Article by Olga Kaneda

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