It had been nearly two years since I last saw Michiko Tanaka, owner of 京の居酒屋ちか - Kyo No Izakaya Chika, but she and her shop have both improved with age.

京の居酒屋ちか - Kyo No Izakaya Chika, March 24, 2011

March 24, 2011.  It was my last night in Kyoto and some friends and I were wandering around looking for a place to eat dinner.  I was hungry, tired and entirely leaving it up to my them to decide on a place.  For whatever reason they skipped over place after place until we ended up walking in a door at the end of small dark alley.  Inside the 9.9 sq/m shop stood Michiko Tanaka.  We all agreed that this was indeed the place.

We sat at the counter for hours as she served up one delicious dish after another.  And she talked as much as she cooked.  Even though she had created a menu for the evening, not once did she ask us, or any of the regulars that came in what we wanted, she just seemed to know.

March 27, 2011 - Michiko with a regular of 30 years

The next evening I was having dinner in Nagoya talking about how great this woman was.  At that moment I decided that I had to go back.  So I cancelled my plans for the final two days of my trip and I returned to Kyoto and made this short film about Tanaka.


I returned recently happy to find that pretty much nothing had changed at all except what was on the television.  The first time it was news of a potential nuclear meltdown, this time it was Sumo Wrestling.

Because she has no email address, and I never could find the physical address of her shop to send her a copy, this is her watching the film for the first time.  I had envisioned that she would be absolutely thrilled to finally see it, but I could barely get her to watch 30 seconds of it.  Finally she said ”ばっちりでした (that was perfect)", and set the phone down and went back to cooking.

A little film and a blog-post cannot not truly represent how remarkable this woman is.  I was lucky to stumble upon this place and I plan to return here at least once a year.