Customers of Kubo
Besides mama, there were 5 or 6 staff worked in rotation. One of them was a boy, Hiro, also a college student, and was a relative of mama. He mostly worked in the kitchen. Asami and Marie were in their later 40s, both divorced with grown children. Both of them worked as sales staff at different department stores. Rie was a 28-year-old web designer, and Kozue was in her late 30s and was unemployed.
Kubo opened at 6 pm, but few customers showed up until 7 pm. The first to arrive were local business owners. There was the owner of a yakitori place by the park. His yakitori was so popular that his shop appeared in magazines and papers. When I passed his shop, he was often grilling the yakitori himself. The owner of a Japanese sweets shop in the busy shopping street was also seen grilling Dango over the grill facing the shopping street. He often came with the owner of a gyoza shop, who also made his signature gyoza himself.
Next to arrive was an 88-year-old retired pharmaceutical company executive. He was long a widower. He played the piano during the day, and in the night, he went to the same Japanese restaurant, and after the meal, he came to Kubo to drink whiskey and sing karaoke. He wore a suit and a hat every day and walked around with a cane. He was a Kyoto university-educated biologist, and he told me he met Zhou Enlai when young. He loved chanson music and sang Les Feuilles Mortes out of tune. He left before 10 pm, and one of us always followed him home because he once fell on his way home from Kubo and was unconscious until his son living next-door found him in the morning.
Around 8 pm – 9 pm, the salary-men started to arrive. It was late ’90s, so Kubo had many customers from IT companies. They came in a group, a boss, and a few of his favorite subordinates. The salary-men from a large IT company looked like they were selected from college sports teams. They were loyal to their department boss, who was loyal to the CEO. They tended to come late and stayed until Kubo closed at midnight.