Recently, through my job, I have come to know the poet Kitashukugawa Fukashi (known as "Hakushaku" - lit. The Count) who, having been born in Hyogo and raised in Kansai, boasts that he is a Kansai nationalist. At first glance, he has the air of a salaryman about him, but on closer inspection, you notice that he has dyed brown hair and a pierced ear, and is openly gay.
Behind Hakushaku's appearance lies a man with a remarkably sharp tongue. His profound knowledge of architecture is also notable. And it was him I asked to take me to the shop of his choice. Musica was what he came up with, a place he has been visiting regularly for the last twenty years. It was in the early afternoon of a weekday in February, after a stroll, that we
stopped into the shop.
After getting off at Yodoyabashi Station, we made our way along the river toward our final destination, with Hakushaku providing a variety of information about the buildings we passed. He expressed a particular liking for the Dai Building (Osaka Building) that has been subject to a series of ongoing crises. As we walked along, he stopped to take pictures again and again with his digital camera. And since we weren't in any hurry, after coming upon the "graf" building in that same Nakanoshima neighborhood, Hakushaku took me inside and showed me around. Apparently, the building, with its neo-romantic style, dates to the Taisho Period. Entranced by the exquisite decorative touches and interior, I was amazed to find that the building still functions as an office building.
Such a splendid building is still standing, eh?....Once I had satisfied my curiosity, I followed Hakushaku on to Musica. Surprisingly, it was located on the third floor of a newer building in Dojima. Once inside, I realized that the shop wasn't just another tea room with sumptuous English tea. As a tea specialist, the owner-cum-manager, Horie Toshiki, is known to one and all in the industry.
Musica was the first English tea specialty shop to be opened in Japan. It was founded fifty years ago. There is also an original Musica brand of tea. Inside, the shop is brimming with a variety of materials related to tea. On Hakushaku's recommendation, we ordered the shop's speciality, the three-tiered Afternoon Tea set. It was tea time.
(to be continued next issue)