Jul 05, 2016

    Hubby cheating? Private eye available in Tokyo bar


    BARS where research scientists, computer programmers, private detectives and other unlikely professionals work as bartenders appear to be increasingly popular in Tokyo.

    Curious customers are captivated by the stimulating conversation as well as the drinks.

    At Incubator, wine is served in test tubes, sake poured into laboratory beakers and snacks placed on petri dishes.

    The bar opened two years ago along a back street in the Arakicho district of Shinjuku Ward. Inside, a DNA amplifier and distiller decorate the shelves while a microscope sits on the counter.

    The owner, Takashi Nomura, 32, studied biological science at graduate school and did research on acute cerebral infarction using ultrasonic waves.

    He opened the bar to give researchers a platform to interact with ordinary people and share scientific ideas.

    Taisuke Kondo, 28, a graduate school student studying immunology, said: "I talked with the owner about ideas for my academic thesis and he listened to my complaints about experiments while I drank," he said.

    The bar also asks customers who are not scientists to pen their questions about science in a notebook. The entries are relayed to scientists who frequent the bar. "It encourages researchers to explain their studies using layman's terms," Mr Nomura explained.

    At Hackers Bar in the Roppongi district, computer programmers run the show.

    Behind a counter, they type on computers and codes that are unfamiliar to ordinary people appear on screens above customers' heads.

    The lines of letters and figures are codes that instruct computers to work, they said.

    The customers chat with the staff, saying things like, "What kind of programming languages do you use?" and "That's a beautiful code, isn't it?"

    The bar was opened two years ago by Akihiro Nakao, a 34-year-old computer programmer. "I wanted a place where programming skills can be demonstrated to others, like street musicians," he said.

    Hideaki Iio, a 31-year-old graduate school student from Kyoto, received advice about developing software for an application. "It's different from formal consultations," he said. "I can talk in a relaxed mood while having a drink."

    Another bar, Detective Cafe Progress, the staff members are private detectives working for a detective agency in Tokyo.

    The company opened the bar three years ago in the Ikebukuro district with the aim of eradicating the negative images of private detective agencies, such as the business being part of an underground syndicate.

    Inside, a mock report of an infidelity investigation is placed on the counter and video re-enactments of investigations are screened.

    On the back of the menu is a list of fees in case customers actually ask the detective agency to conduct an investigation.

    Said Koji Suzuki, 46, the bar's general manager who has been a private detective for 15 years: "I can offer advice about many things based on my experiences during my long career."