The bars mentioned in the beginning of this article I serendipitously stumbled upon from the NY Times archives, are exactly the types of bars I love and seek out - nowhere near fancy nor pretentious, laid-back and intimate, and sprinkled with ghosts (real or imagined) of Japanese past.
Excerpt: Discreet, out-of-the-way bars have been a staple of Japanese culture for decades. Before World War II, Tokyo was filled with these pocket-sized dives — called nomiya (counter bars) — with space for just six or seven stools. Behind the counter was a proprietor, whose role was both confidant and caregiver to the regulars. When the city was rebuilt, however, most were bulldozed in favor of larger, glossier, more Westernized offerings.
Now a younger, postwar creative class is reviving nomiya culture — with a decidedly modern spin.
“I don't go out that often, but when I do, I like to go to these little secret places,” said the contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, tinkering with a trademark anime sculpture. “There is something very familiar and personal about them that I find comforting. They may have a modern design, but the feeling is more like traditional Japan.”