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Jazz Stroll FIRST, a long-established jazz bar in Chojamachi

ジャズ散歩 長者町の老舗ジャズバー「FIRST」

The city of Yokohama is an essential part of any discussion of jazz in Japan. Numerous jazz festivals, such as the Asahi Jazz Festival and the Yokohama Honmoku Jazz Festival, are held here, and the Noge, Isezakicho, and Kannai areas are home to many spots where you can enjoy jazz.
In this series, we will introduce jazz spots within the prefecture so that even those who have never been to a jazz cafe or live house can easily enjoy jazz.

Past serial Jazz Walk: From "Jazz Cafe Chigusa" to "Jazz Museum Chigusa"

In the second installment of this series, we will introduce "FIRST," a jazz bar in Chojamachi that has been supporting Yokohama jazz for over 50 years. It is a three-minute walk from Hinodecho Station on the Keikyu Line. Once you cross Choja Bridge and the Ooka River, you will find yourself in an atmosphere that is a little different from the area in front of the station. As you enter the alley, the white "JAZZ BAR - FIRST" sign appears in the darkening town. Next to the retro mint green door, there are bottles of Western liquor and posters with information about live shows.

FIRST, which was founded on July 21, 1968, is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year. In those days, you couldn't just listen to your favorite music with a smartphone like you can now. FIRST collected jazz records from overseas and became a place of relaxation for many people, including students, as a place where you could listen to jazz. Even now, more than 50 years later, the store continues to be loved by its regulars.

When you open the door, the sound of jazz reverberating throughout the store vibrates pleasantly through your body. The interior of the store, which has the same yellow-green color scheme as the entrance, is divided into chic counter seats lit with blue lights and table seats with carved wooden tables and chairs. Right next to the entrance are musical instruments such as pianos and drums. There was no live music on the day I visited, so it seemed like a rest day for the instruments.

To be honest, I was a little nervous when I opened the door. I like listening to jazz, but I have had almost no experience of visiting jazz bars, so I felt that "Yokohama's long-established jazz bar" was a bit intimidating. However, that nervousness gradually melted away as soon as I entered the bar. As mentioned above, the interior of the bar has a chic and calm atmosphere, but at the same time, it has a warm, homey feel. The husband and wife owners of "FIRST" are the ones who exude that warmth. On the day, the owner guided me to a larger table so that I, who was carrying a lot of luggage, could sit comfortably, and the owner, Yamazaki Akira, welcomed me while enjoying conversation with the customers at the counter.

When I arrived, the music playing ranged from Latin and modern jazz to well-known standards. You can enjoy a wide variety of jazz sounds. That's because there were many records lined up behind the counter, which really told the story of the store's history.

What's even more exciting is the variety of drinks on the menu. Not only is the food menu more extensive than that of a regular bar, but the food made by the hostess is loved by many people for both its taste and volume.

As mentioned above, FIRST regularly hosts live music performances and jazz sessions. You can listen to a wide variety of musicians, from young players to well-known performers. Information on live performances can be found on the website , so if you want to listen to live music, we recommend checking the information before visiting.

It has the calmness of a long-established establishment, and a warmth that allows you to relax and unwind. You can enjoy jazz however you like while feeling the history of the establishment and the gentle atmosphere created by the husband and wife owners. Please come and visit "FIRST", where you can enjoy jazz in a relaxed and relaxed atmosphere.

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