This is a real find to be treasured. An unassuming little café near Demachiyanagi station, I must have walked past Lush Life a thousand times before finally noticing it one day, stepping inside, and bursting out laughing.
Outside, it just looks like your average run-of-the-mill café. But inside – it’s so nice! Like a little wooden jazz-lover’s den, with one wall decorated floor to ceiling with record covers and a nice cozy counter to sit at.
Everyday, there’s a simple but tasty “dish of the day” if you want something to eat. Or you can enjoy some of the luscious looking homemade cake. On the day I visited lunch was chicken curry (the owner was kind enough to make me a vegetarian bean curry instead) which I thoroughly enjoyed while listening to Nina Simone singing her Backlash Blues. And the coffee? That made me laugh too, because it was so good! Better than how I like it!
Here are some more pictures, to put you in the mood.
Lush Life (named after the jazz standard by Billy Strayhorn) has been open here since 1988, but its history dates back to earlier jazz cafés with different names and in different locations – all the way back to the first cafe “SugarHill” in 1966. Judging by the number of regular customers who have their “keep” coffee tickets tacked to the walls, I’d guess Lush Life will be around for a long time to come. Although, it’s a small shop, they have sponsored a number performances at Kyoto’s Kamigamo Shrine by the major jazz pianists Abdullah Ibrahim and the late great Randy Weston. I was fortunate enough to attend two of Randy Weston’s performances at Kamigamo and on both occasions I was blown away by his vitality, profound talent and deep, deep, joyful tunes.
This happy little place is open from 12:00 ~ 22:00 everyday except Tuesdays. Tel: 090-1909-0199.
You can find it to the side of the taxi rank just opposite the Eizan exit of Demachiyanagi Station. Here is a map.
Text and images by Michael Lambe. All rights reserved.