Friday, January 20, 2012

The "Official Song of Yokohama" and Bar Stardust

One night, a few years back, when I was out exploring Yokohama on the bike, I came upon an old 1950`s style bar called - "Bar Stardust". The place is at the very end of a dark dreery street that reminded me, a bit, of some of the forgotten industrial areas along the Brooklyn/Queens waterfront that I used to enjoy exploring. The best part of that area was some of the old dive bars that you`d sometimes come across, places that were seemingly packed in amber and hadn`t changed at all in decades. Sooo, to suddenly come upon this very out of sorts mod/ratpack/loungish style place with it`s vintage neon sign, brightly beckoning into nothingness was a bit surreal. It was also awesome! -  and too enticing to pass up! 

Of course, I had to go in.

Inside, the place didn`t disappoint.  There was no log-lady or dancing midgets like I half expected/wanted to see, but, it did have lots of really cool woodwork, funky green vinyl seating and  wall-to-wall, low black vinyl upholstered ceilings. Above and behind the bar were lots of back-lighted stained glass panels, featuring naked pin-up ladies in playful Vargas poses. I hopped onto a barstool, settled in, ordered a drink, and, taking advantage of the stools smooth revolving feature(don`t make `em like this anymore!), spun slowly around a few times letting my eyes soak up the scene - and whoa! No way. Yes! A jukebox! - and probably as old as the bar itself - with the original 45`s! There were some customers. A few young couples were sitting in the booths, enjoying cocktails and the fab, retro, foreignish atmosphere. The rest seemed to be nostalgic and contemplative older people, who were sitting at the bar getting drunk as they relived the past. I ordered a drink and put a few hyakuen into the jukebox and pretty much randomly selected some tunes. Elvis, Nat King Cole, Sinatra some Japanese songs came up and some more people trickled in. I had a couple more drinks, and then, a song - most of which I couldn`t understand except for the words "Blue Light Yokohama"(the title BTW) and, hey - everyone in the bar is singing along!

Well, a fun night ensued and I remember the song being played and sung a few more times. I`ve since learned that the song is considered to be, (according to my father-in-law at least) "the official song of Yokohama". I think it certainly is a pretty cool and umm..groovy sounding song for something that sounds somewhat enka-ish to me, but I like it - mostly because it reminds me of that unexpectedly fun and trippy night in a bar that holds out against the odds, in a part of town that has seen better days, but still holds on by offering customers memories. The place is now part of the soundtrack in my head, for my memories of Yokohama(that I`m still happily collecting).

You can check it out below yourself - if the song doesn`t interest you, you can turn off the volume and ogle the "really, really ridiculously good looking" Ishida Ayumi.

The video also happens to have some interesting scenes of Yokohama during the 60`s.

Also, if you would like to check out the place yourself you can have "Yokohama Rides and Rentals" take you there!(or you can get a taxi at Yokohama Station - but that`s no fun;))


Bar Stardust


  1. Great writing. Enjoyed the retro mood and almost cried because of the time that has passed since I was young and sitting somewhere like your bar featured. It was a most joyful time and one of my fondest memories--oh, Yokohama, how I remember your love and kindness.

    1. Thank you very much Robert. I sincerely hope you can find a way to return to Yokohama someday - and when you do I'd to buy you a drink(or two) at this place!