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Lessons in Simplicity: Tips from Japan

Lori Bailey / February 24th 2017

The tiny little cafe outside Yokosuka caught my eye as we walked past: rusty old bike out front, lots of wood paneling, eccentric and varied pendant lights effusing warmth from within. A young, stylish pair (could have been lifted straight out of a feature in Drift Magazine) ran the entire operation with an air of relaxed attentiveness. Orders of food and drinks flowed seamlessly, the owners making buoyant conversation with regulars coolly smoking cigarettes at the bar. A succinct menu offered unpretentious, Western-influenced dishes such as hot dogs, sandwiches and pasta, in addition to tea, coffee and beer. Our food arrived, simple yet sophisticated - my sandwich of prosciutto and greens comprised of tidy layers between slices of that soft white bread favored by the Japanese, cut into neat halves. After the meal, we were each presented with a tea tray - teapot, teacup, plate of petite biscuits - which we savored as though the night would never end. Dramatic words like "life-changing" or "divine" wouldn't accurately describe that experience. It all felt normal, yet somehow special. Simple. But excellent.