Kubo was a “pub,” but not the “public house.” In Japan, “pub” referred to bars opened in the ’70s – ’80s that catered to salary-men. They served alcohol and bar foods and were often equipped with karaoke machines. I have no idea how the word deviated from the original business format. Once, a white man came in and asked, perplexed, “this is a pub, isn’t’ it?” I had to give him a direction to the franchise bar that prided in a faux pub interior decoration.
We called the owner “mama,” the term generally used to refer to the mistress of a hostess bar. Our mama was an entrepreneur. She started a coffee shop first, and as she gained regular customers, she changed it to serve alcohol. The time was right in the ’80s when Kubo attracted bankers and manufacturing company executives. She told me that the economy was crazed by the bubbles of the insubstantial capital market, and the men who worked till late in the night couldn’t sleep because of adrenaline, so they came to Kubo to vent it out with whiskey and karaoke. Mama reaped profit from the economic frenzy and used to fly 1st class.
The antique furniture and the laser-disk karaoke machine now made sense. I couldn’t imagine Kubo being full of salary-men on adrenaline because the regular customers now preferred to sit and talk with mama. She said the bankers no longer came, but regular customers have been loyal, some of whom she had known since the coffee shop.