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Bar review: Office, Gaienmae

On the evening of Friday September 30th, a little over two weeks ago, I was in a bit of a pinch. I had put up my bold October 1st relaunch announcement a week earlier, but still had a number of things to do before the site was ready to go live the next day. I needed somewhere I could break out the laptop, grab some food, maybe with a drink or two to unwind, and thrash out the final few posts. Oh, and free WiFi, a nice view and some cool background tunes wouldn't hurt, either. So as soon as I left work, I knew exactly where to go: Office.

For those that have never been, Office is a trendy little bar in Gaienmae. It occupies the fifth floor of the building right above Gaienmae station, with a commanding view that stretches all the way down Aoyama-dori towards Shibuya in the distance. There's no cover charge, it's rarely so crowded you can't get a seat, and it has to be one of my favourite places for a good-old-fashioned, drink-in-hand, watching-the-traffic-go-by chillout.

It was originally conceived as a bar where creative types could meet and socialise - but also get work done. The main table resembles a great big green-topped draughtsman's desk, with anglepoise lamps rising out of recessed cubby holes. Desk drawers contain pens and A4 legal pads for those impromptu doodle sessions. Chairs are styled as filing cabinets, recessed into the wall when not in use. And yes, there's even a photocopier next to the DJ booth, and a phone/fax recessed into the end of the large table.

The bookshelves are worth a couple of hours of anyone's time, too, with volumes ranging from 1930s Superman compendiums to Lego annuals to classic airline design coffee-table albums.

The food is good, the drinks are great, the staff are friendly, the vibe is relaxed, the tunes are laid back, and yes, there's free wireless and no shortage of places to plug your PowerBook into the mains, should you really need to, but mainly... it's the view. On paper, there's not much to it: there's a road (Aoyama-dori) leading off into the distance; cars drive up and down it; ocasionally they stop to let other cars cross; neon signs illuminate various buildings.

But there's something about the way it all flows; traffic lights phase on and off every couple of hundred metres, checking and releasing the taxis (for they are nearly all taxis, once you get past about midnight) in rythmical waves of headlights and taillights. It's just beautiful.

So, Office. My favourite bar. It's a bit out of the way, but nothing that a ten minute taxi ride from Shibuya can't fix. I urge you to check it out. Take exit 3 from Gaienmae station on the Ginza line. The entrance is round to the left of the Sign cafe (operated by the same company) on the ground floor. In the meantime, here's a Japan Times interview with Office owner Sadahiro Nakamura, and a more recent interview with the designer responsible for Office's minimal aesthetic, Myeong-Hee Lee.

Office (Gaienmae)
Yamazaki Bldg. 5F
Kita Aoyama 2-7-18
Tel: 03-5786-1052
Fax: 03-5786-1053

Posted by chris at October 18, 2005 01:09 AM | Permalink

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