Japanese

Chat About Matches

Match, Label and Travel

Guest: Mr. Masahiro Yano (owner of a jazz-room, 'TOMU')

Profile

Mr. Yano is the owner of a jazz tearoom 'TOMU' in Asagaya, Tokyo, and 'Dongara' where black music has been mainly played. Mr. Yano is a collector of matchboxes that were given away in jazz tearooms in 1960's and 70's.

Jazz&Culture asagaya futodoki
http://kitan.semana.co.jp/

Contents

[vol.1] Collectors' Pastime
[vol.2] Your Fire For Your Use
[vol.3] Kobe Selection "2-ko Match"
[vol.4] Match, Label and Travel

Host: Mr. Yutaka Kato

Kato:

I have been collecting trademark matches (that have been sold as a commodity,) but, today, please let me ask about your collection of Jazz-tearoom matches that are advertising matches, Mr. Yano.
I am impressed by the volume of your collection - they are jazz-tearoom matches throughout the country. They are classified by municipal category first, and then, by Tokyo wards. Have you visited these jazz-tearooms and collected matches yourself?

Yano:

Yes, I have. I am a traveler. (Smile)
I have thriftily traveled throughout Japan since I was young and visited local jazz-tearooms. I have even gotten a night's lodging at a stranger's house like a traveling priest (laughter.) I collected matches something like a proof of my pilgrimage, and then….so many of them!

I have described the footprint of my trips in my website, and the title is "Matches, Labels, and Travels" (laughter.) Matchboxes I collected and my traveling are deeply related. The matches I was given at a jazz-tearoom were a certain kind of traffic bill for my traveling.

Kato:

I see. Collecting matchboxes means recording your traveling, doesn't it?

Yano:

Yes, it does. The match collection describes my travel record during my age in 20's to about 36 years old. I went to a town I didn't know and visited a jazz-tearoom, and then asked for 3 matches at least. The reason was; I needed 3 matches by all means; one for my own use, one for my collection, and one for exchange. However, jazz-tearoom owners didn't like my asking for three matches (laughter.) Many of owners were grim-looking those days, so I often balked to ask for matches (laughter.) However, the more we talked, the more friendly the owner became, and I told him that I was from Tokyo. Then, he gave me 3 matches, and I even enjoyed information exchange and hearing about local events.

Kato:

I think matches in a way symbolize culture of the period in Japan; 'Advertising matches' especially indicate very well the periodical events such as fashions of those days and social atmosphere, etc.

Yano:

It is exactly so. Looking at a match label in the collection brings those days' memories to us, and I think it is the visual function power that works through match labels and takes us back to circumstances of that chaotic time.

Kato:

Give-away matches were important advertising media those days, and many matches represented shops' status, or pride, or existing value of a shop or a company. Therefore, shops and companies designed labels of matches with zeal and love and emphasized their position in the media.

Yano:

As for matches given away by jazz-tearooms, wide flat type matches were more ideal. They were made proportionally same with a LP jacket. Owners of jazz tearooms fervently loved in designing their stores' match labels as if producing mini record jackets. Consequently, tearoom customers who were given those matches had fun in displaying them in their rooms (laughter).

Kato:

Ah, yes, indeed! A match label's proportion ratio is the same as a LP jacket. Matches were not only for advertising, but also they had significant meanings for both of manufacturers and users.

Yano:

That is why shop owners didn't want to give away matches though they were made for a purpose of give-away (laughter). Shop owners could give away matches if customers would use them appreciatively but they didn't want to give away if matches would be scamped. I think it was because match production actually was not free of charge. Those days, an ordering lot of match production was 5,000 pieces, or 10,000 pieces, and the cost was high. (These days, 2,500 pieces is the minimum lot.)

Kato:

Matches were made for advertisement, and do you mean they were used as if like an expensive pamphlet type, not like a throw-away leaflet paper?

Yano:

Yes, it is so (laughter).

Kato:

I got it! That is why jazz-tearoom matches are all fascinating and never arouse boredom.

Yano:

I think there is another reason why matches were important in a jazz-tearoom. We were not able to use a lighter in a jazz-tearoom those days. We had to use matches in the tearoom.

Kato:

Why was it so?

Yano:

In a jazz-tearoom, very quiet circumstance was required so that everyone could listen to the music earnestly. The shop circumstance was "Speak only in a small and low voice" (laughter). Therefore, using a lighter was definitely an unfavorable action. A small metallic sound of opening a lighter, and a relatively large sound of lightening a cigarette were an anathema and other customers stared at the culprit (laughter). Therefore, people used only matches when smoking a cigarette. Sound of striking a match stick was easily absorbed in jazz sounds. Besides, I think looking at the flame of a match stick was something else when you were embraced by jazz music… It was as if doing meditation.

Kato:

Yes, I remember it now. I also frequently went to a jazz-tearoom for about a year when I was a university student, but I was not able to talk with my friends there. It was hard to communicate with my friends even though something I wanted to ask or I want to tell popped up in my mind. Patiently and quietly waiting till music ended became painful for me, so I quitted visiting a jazz-tearoom (laughter).
I remember those days there were various types of tearooms that played jazz music, classic music, rock music, Latin music, and music for sing-along, and we enjoyed both music and exchanging information. The ambience of a tearoom those days was considerably different from that of a coffee shop today.

Yano:

60's and 70's were exactly years of coffee and coffee shop culture, which was a pinnacle of coffee cultural glory. Being a customer of a coffee shop was considered to be more refined or sophisticated than being a customer of a bar (laughter). A coffee shop those days was a place where many people of different cultures gathered; then information and new cultural issues were sent out from the place. Could we say that the coffee shop was an information source type existence in a certain meaning those days? However, a student who loved going to a coffee shop was often determined as a villain by adults.

Kato:

We are now able to have information on the Internet easily, but in the old time, we had to go out on foot to communicate with those who had the information. A coffee shop had a significant role in that sense, too.

Yano:

My acquaintance named Michael S. Molasky has been studying about jazz-tearoom in Japan, and he says that Japanese jazz-tearoom is very peculiar; peculiar like terakoya (a small private school), which does not exist in the U.S.A.

Kato:

Indeed (smile). There was odd relationship between the owner of a jazz-tearoom and a customer, which was similar to relationship between a teacher and a student. Young people learned about jazz and American culture while going to a jazz tearoom frequently; including social issues in that age such as human rights and pacifism.

Yano:

Yes, it had an image of "base of the culture" charged with a great deal of energy. Therefore, we were proud of being a fan of jazz music. Especially, being a fan of "Modern jazz" meant handsome; the music had to be modern jazz, (laughter).

Kato:

How old were you when first interested in jazz music?

Yano:

First time was when I was 16-year-old in summer vacation. My high school senior friend took me to a jazz tearoom. The name was "DIG" in Shinjuku, Tokyo. I was tremulous in the tearoom…Then Charles Mingus' music, 'Pithecanthropus Erectus' and 'Oh Lord, don't let them drop that atomic bomb on me!' were played, and I was stunned wondering, "Wow! What the good music! I want to know the names of the music!" Then, tearoom's match picture drawn by Bernard Buffet also impressed me with impact. The scene that combined music sounds and match label design on the first day was recorded in my brain vividly (laughter). That was my first experience of jazz music and starting point of my tearoom history, which means these DIG matchboxes are special ones for me.

Kato:

It's amazing that there are so many matchboxes only for one tearoom, 'DIG'. By the way, what are little memos written in the white spaces?

Yano:

I wrote the name of music I listened then (laughter). My friend made the box for me to keep DIG matchboxes (smile).

Kato:

Looking at your collection and observing designs of match labels, I think that characteristic nature of jazz lies in the monotone pattern, namely letters are written in white on the black background. That is why the label design is unexpectedly looks better when blue and/or green color(s) are proportionally added. For instance, Monroe design of Air Gin (Kanagawa) is wonderful and tearoom name printed in green is conspicuous.

Yano:

There are some shops that used pictures of Marilyn Monroe as the design motif. It is because jazz was flourishing in the 60's. And the symbol of the United States in 60's was Marilyn Monroe (smile).


Kato:


Are jazz-tearooms disappearing in the same tempo of match production?

Yano:

Unfortunately yes. However, about 600 to 700 jazz-tearooms are still operating (including live music houses) in Japan. To me, 'matches' means travelling and encountering people with sweet and sour memories; ultimately, it is an eye-witness of my life.

Jazz-Tearoom Matchbox Collection

Let us introduce part of Masahiro Yano's huge collection.

Tearoom in TOKYO

DIG (Shinjuku in Tokyo)
It was opened in 1961 (Showa 37) behind the Niko building, a food department store (presently named Alta). DIG was an established tearoom for jazz music, which inspired Mr. Yano to decide his way of life. DIG was the first shop of Mr. Hozumi Nakadaira, but it was closed; it was shifted to 'DUG' and 'New DUG,' and customers can chat freely and drink alcohol. The picture of Bernard Buffet was known as the face of DIG.
St. GERMAIN (Koenji, Tokyo)
It was opened in 1966 (Showa 41). I, the writer of this article, also visited this tearoom when I was a freshman of a university. Inside of the tearoom was dark; the owner looked rigorous and scary and chatting was prohibited strictly. A customer ordered a cup of coffee, and was in a trance with music. The design of match label represented atmosphere of modern jazz very well. It was closed already.
intro (Takadanobaba in Tokyo)
This long-operating jazz bar established in the student town was opened in 1976 (Showa 51). The jam session is performed occasionally and the feature is vigorous atmosphere with furor. It is opened.
Hibiki (Jujo, Tokyo)
It is an old tearoom that was established in 1964 (Showa 39). It was once closed in 2007, and then opened in Jinbocho after renamed 'Kissako'. Red kanji 'Hibiki' was effectively and frankly designed with black and white colors as well as a silhouette of a man; the label was properly fitted to jazz atmosphere and attracted many people's eyes.
Naru
(Kanda Suruga Dai, Tokyo)

It was opened in 1970 (Showa 45). It moved from Yoyogi to a vicinity of Ochanomizu Station. Live entertainment has been performed. The label expression of printing alphabet letters on the black background is clearly appealing. It is opened.
Bird Land
(Shinjuku 2-Chome, Tokyo)

It was opened in 1970 (Showa 45). The shop was located near a strip-tease theater named 'Modern Art.' This tearoom was owned by an ex-hippie, a popular man nicknamed 'Chief.' Label illustration of a robust bird is impressive. This was already closed.
Crescent (Nakano, Tokyo)
Customers enjoyed jazz music played in high volume. I think the label design is classically elegant with relish of 1970's trend. This was already closed.
bebop (Kichijoji, Tokyo)
It was opened in 1970 (Showa 45). Customers listened to jazz & rock music in the underground tearoom at the entrance of Inokashira Park; the room was decorated with iron pipes. The typography of this label is classy and I like the fashion sense of 70's. It was already closed.
SOMETIME (Kichijoji, Tokyo)
It was opened in 1975 (Showa 50). Superb talent is seen in the interior design of the tearoom. The matchbox is named 'Piano Hall' and the design is fabulous. It is opened.
MEG (Kichijoji, Tokyo)
It was opened in 1970 (Showa 45). It is an old tearoom, and customers' chatting is OK these days, though it was not permitted in the old days. The design of the label that processed a picture of Humphrey Bogart in a retro style is excellent.
Eagle
(Yotsuya, Tokyo)

It was opened in 1967 (Showa 42) by a young man, 20-year-old Masahiro Goto; it was the year Coltrane passed away. Jazz musicians who belonged to Jazz Study Club of Sophia University and jazz critics appeared in the tearoom almost everyday. Label illustration that used blue color is marvelous, but I think it is too bad that a word 'jazz' is not written. It is opened.
Ongakukan
(Music House)
(Shibuya Dougenzaka, Tokyo)

It was opened in 1964 (Showa 39). The illustration and configuration of a finger-pointing hand in retro style is the charm of this matchbox. The store was in Hyakkenten, but it was closed.
TOMU
(Asagaya, Tokyo)

Mr. Yano, the guest of this session, owns the shop. He opened this tearoom in 1966 (Showa 41) when he was 21 years old. Customers can enjoy jazz music while having meals and chatting in the classically furnished shop. The same match is given away at his other tearoom 'Tongara,' and 'Garakutei (closed)'. The picture of 'TOMU' was drawn by a charismatic cartoonist in 70's, Shinji Nagashima.

Other tearooms than in TOKYO

airgin
(Yokohama,
Kanagawa Prefecture)

It seems Marilyn Monroe was popular among jazz fans as a symbol of flourishing time of jazz music in Japan. The shop name written in green stands out effectively with monotone color of a picture of Monroe. It is opened.
Blue Note
(Yokosuka,
Kanagawa Prefecture)

I can see Blue Note's match label was designed wholeheartedly. Mr. Yano has collected about 15 different kinds of matches of this tearoom, and all are designed graceful with high level skills. The design of this match label is excellent showing the piano in explicit blue color and English letters in handwriting style. It is opened.
SOUND & THE FURY
(Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture)

It was opened in 1970 (Showa 45). It is a long-established tearoom in Ibaraki Prefecture. I can feel impact in this large sized book-match design that is drawn only in black. It is opened.
Chorui-zukan
(Butterfly Illustrated book)
(Kawaramachi, Kyoto)

It was opened in 1972 (Showa 47). Swing and bop music was most of the time played. The name of the shop is peculiar and attracts our attention. Butterflies' specimen was decorated on the wall of the shop, and chatting was strictly prohibited. The match label was designed imitating the style of registered trademark match labels. This was already closed.
BIG BOY
(Kawaramachi, Osaka)

It was opened in 1971 (Showa 46). Modern jazz music has been mainly played. Customers can enjoy live performance that is operated irregularly. The silhouette of a red child on the black background catches people's eyes. Another shop related is named 'Big Mother.' Both shops are opened.
5 SPOT
(Dotonbori, Osaka)

The shop consists of three floors of underground, first, and second floor. Amplifiers and players are placed in the first floor. The match label is designed in an orthodox method, and there are more than 10 different patterns of labels with different Jazz player's photograph. The shop is opened.
Shino
(Iwamizawa, Hokkaido)

It was opened in 1963 (Showa 38). This has been changed to a tearoom named 'Goya' and customers can listen to jazz and BGM. The label is simply illustrated with chic colors and handwriting type letters in English are fit for colors.
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