I called Hiroyuki yesterday to see if he would be there, and he told me to meet him around 7 pm. After swimming at the Mitaka pool from five to six o'clock (a pleasant break from Tokyo's heat), we biked home and had a quick dinner.
When I got to the bar, I couldn't tell if Hiroyuki was inside; the glass on the door is hard to see through. However, I could see the "grumpy guy," the man I had a bad experience with last month, and it looked like the only open seat was next to him! Ahhh!
So, I waffled and hovered outside the bar, unsure of what to do. I berated myself for being such a wuss and that I should just suck it up and go on in. Yet, the grumpy guy experience had really bothered me, and I was really nervous about having to sit next to him. I considered finding a pay phone to call Hiroyuki to find out if he was actually in the bar.
Finally, I got up enough courage to peer closely through the glass, and I saw Hiroyuki in the corner, with an empty seat on the other side of him. Relieved, I opened the door and slipped in. Tabo, the owner, greeted me, as well as many of the other locals.
It was a nice hour and an half of biru, yakiniku (grilled garlic), and nihongo. We caught up with each other's lives and hopefully made plans to go to the Tokyo horse racing track. Hiroyuki is an avid horse race gambler and, according to him, is quite successful.
The nicest part of the night came when Hiroyuki and I left. After we stood up and paid our bill, we shuffled past the other chairs in the small space. Everyone said, "Mata ne" (see you next time), INCLUDING the grumpy guy who turned in his chair to face me, smiled, and said, "Oyasumi nasai" (good night). I guess it's true in Japan: whatever happens while drunk is forgotten/forgiven...
You may have already seen this photo; I took it back in May. However, it does capture the size
and atmosphere of the izakaya quite well.