On Friday night, the first of July, Richard and I met up with Takae, Tomoe, Yoko, and Tomoya to walk over to Kecha, an izakaya on Naniwa-suji. Kecha has become one of my favorite places to eat. Outside of the izakaya there is a menu board with a fish skeleton nailed to it that sits next to the stairs that lead up to the second story, as well as a giant black dragon catfish that swims in and out of the woodwork of the second story facade. Inside there is a pervading sense of relaxed welcome and the walls are covered with a variety of artworks that range from Edo-period woodblock prints to funkier contemporary takes (maybe a kind of Edo-period-meets-street art kind of style). The staff have this same kind of sense about them — a kind of art-rock yukata look — and they walk around barefooted or in sandals, never systematically attending to the tables but always there with magic precision. The food is, I think, very special, including house delights like agedashi eggplant, and eggplant stuffed with pork, as well as a slow-cooked Okinawan pork dish. The bonito tataki is great too. And sake comes served in a battered aluminum container sitting on a bed of ice. The cups are bamboo cuttings, rough and raw, each one different in its form.

Friday night also marked the beginning of the real rainy season and the seven of us walked to Kecha through a late afternoon downpour. Warm rain, lightening, walking through impromptu streamlets and sidewalk ponds. It was actually quite delightful and exciting — Takae later described it as like being a child again, stomping through weather. When we finally reached Kecha we all took our shoes off and sat around the table barefoot on pillows.

The name Kecha apparently comes from the kanji for “rare” (pronounced ‘ke’) and “tea” (‘cha’), implying a rare place, or a place of rare foods. It’s also startlingly close to an English-language pun, since “rare tea” and “rarity” ring quite close.


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