Monday, November 6, 2017

Old Japanese Telephone - If You Know What This is... You Are Old (and have visited Japan long ago...)

The other night I went to a small pub near my house named "Nonki." Nonki is what is called a "Izakaya." An Izakaya is basically a Japanese tavern that serves drinks and all sorts of foods. Kind of like what they call "Tapas" in Spanish: Lots of small dishes with many, many taste delights along with beer, booze and hard liquor.

Nonki is run by a nice old guy and his wife. It's actually the wife's place... The husband came in to help after retirement and another kind old lady - who I assumed was the wife's best friend - passed away several years back.

I like "Nonki." "Nonki" basically translates into "carefree." And that it is. Every time I go there I see the same customers from the neighborhood laughing and having fun.

I am assuming that Nonki has been in the neighborhood for 45 years (read on and you'll know why I think that). Nonki used to be a a hundred meters away in a different spot. I had been there a few times 12 years ago or so... Now, it is located on the main shopping street at Futakotamagawa.

Nonki really is a traditional old style drinking establishment. The only time I have ever see other foreigners there was when I went to the wash and saw my reflection in the mirror or when I brought foreign friends there.

I hadn't been to Nonki in years when I decided to visit a while back. As I approached the door, I could hear many people inside laughing and talking and, as I opened the sliding door and looked in, all the patrons looked at the door and saw me standing there.... They all suddenly went silent. You could hear a pin drop - it was like they were immediately frozen stiff - with their mouths open and gaping at the E.T. standing at the door. They looked like they'd seen a ghost.... 

I felt like I had walked back in time to a pub in Kawasaki in 1980! 

It was like that scene from the Blues Brothers when Jake and Elwood went to that high class French restaurant and looked in; the customers were frozen in shock.

Anyway, the reason I write about Nonki, and the reason why I suspect they've been in business for 45 years is their telephone. That's right, their telephone. They still have and use the type of telephone that were prevalent in Japan up until the late 80s. It's a huge pink box with a ¥10 coin slot at the top. 

I think it's a pretty safe bet that this pink public phone is one of the few remaining in Futakotamagawa!

I hadn't seen or used one of these in years.....

So I picked up the receiver and, as I did, the Mama at Nonki smiled at me and brimming with pride she said, "That phone is 45 years old!" I smiled back at her. I was touched... Her expression and her smiling eyes! What a nice, charming lady she is!

Then, I had an inspiration! I pulled a ¥10 coin out of my pocket and inserted it into the slot and entered into a Time machine! Really! Wow! 

It was like going back in time - and for only ¥10! - it was a strange sensation putting my finger into the dial and dialing after all these years... But who would I call? Ah? I'll call myself! 

I have an uncanny memory for numbers... But after I put my finger into the hole to dial, my brain drew a blank suddenly and I couldn't recall my own number! I stopped and had to think for a few seconds. What was it? I suddenly recalled, and, like Back to the Future, I was dialing up my past. It was new and different to actually dial up a number with my finger after all these years.

.... You've seen those memes on Facebook and Twitter that show some old object and they say, "If you know what this is, you are old"? That's what it reminded me of.

It was brilliant taking a trip back into time, if only for a few seconds... Images of the faces of old friends and loving family long gone and passed away - and all the good times and memories they gave me flashed though my mind.... It felt good....

I miss you all and I miss the good times... God bless you all and thank you all for being a part of my life .

.....And thank you pink telephone! For times past and a recent exhilarating experience I will never forget.

NOTES: Oh, Nonki is super cheap and delicious! If you go there, tell them "Mike sent me!" They won't understand as they don't speak a word of English and you'll get nothing for it - but maybe I'll get a free beer or something! ;)

のんき (Nonki)
東京都世田谷区玉川 4-12-1
4-12-1 Tamagawa, Setagaya-Ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-3709-2381


Anonymous said...

Speaking of nostalgia and pubs... there is also a foreigner who posts A LOT of videos he made in the early 1990s in Japan with his video camera:
He probably has lots of izakaya anecdotes.

Andrew Joseph said...

Hey Mike, Ohtawara in Tochigi-ken (the city name is Big Rice Field Field) had plenty of those types of telephones when I was there leaving in 1993. I used them all the time. I suspect a lot more do inaka places will have those old telephones... ya gotta get out more. LOL!
Nice read, though!

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