Miyazaki Shōten (ミヤザキ商店) is a tiny yakitoriya out in a residential neighborhood surrounding Hatagaya Station at the western edge of Shibuya Ward. Any further out and it would be in Setagaya. As my friend Brian puts it, this place is local. We arrived after 11:00pm and there were just two empty seats left. Lucky for us.
On the left is Brian MacDuckston, writer and photographer behind Ramen Adventures, and one of Yahoo! Japan’s Ramen Ambassadors. On the right is Miyazaki-san, owner, operator and charismatic host of this hole in the wall. Brian is telling Miyazaki, “I’ve been coming here for years and I always order the same things. Give me a spread of plates I’ve never had before.” Like I said, local.
Miyazaki Shōten only fits about 15 people maximum, and that requires every person to sit elbow to elbow and back to back. Everything is in this one room, so no matter what seat you get, you are more or less sitting in the middle of the kitchen. This place would probably violate just about every US local fire ordinance. But for the 15 people partaking in drink, grilled meat and vegetables, and effervescent conversation, this might as well be the center of the universe. It’s everything a third place should be.
Each year, Miyazaki-san holds a special event to celebrate the anniversary of the shop opening. If I remember right, the sixth was just about to arrive. The demand is so great that he has to rent a separate space just to accommodate everyone who comes. Here’s wishing him many more years of bringing good cheer to his little corner of the world.
This post is part of The Tokyo Project. Click here to go to the introduction and table of contents.