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Mitsuyo Saito, the mother of the siblings that run “Ahiru Store” and who herself works at the bistro, has published an illustrated diary that captures their days through ink drawings and text. Reading this book tells you a lot about Ahiru Store. For example, on days when there are many first-timers, it’s quiet at the restaurant. Also, that the name of the person who serves delicious wine is Kenko-kun, and that the staff meal on Saturdays is pasta by Teru-san (the eldest brother) plus a glass of wine, and that my favorite dish, soupe de poisson, is Haru-san’s (the younger brother) specialty… and so on.

The most impressionable of all was about the bread by Waka-san (the youngest sister). “The bread that Waka-san bakes has an honest taste,” and “To repeat, every day. Awaiting to hear, ‘It’s warm, it’s good.’” ― such descriptions of Waka-san’s bread from Mitsuyo-san’s eyes seem to depict Ahiru Store itself. I often think, not only Ahiru, but all of the restaurants that I frequent are open every day, prepare the same dishes, and make their customers exclaim, “SO good!” Silently repeating their routine day after day, like an athlete that never fails to win when they play in matches and awe-striking like Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros. On top of that, or rather, despite that, I like the fact that Ahiru, like the weather, is there equally for all of us. If you’re lucky, you can get in right away, but there are days when you have to a bit wait in line. They take proper summer vacations. (This year, they’re taking holidays in the fall from October 25 to November 16.) It’s open, simple, and sincere. Opening the beautiful mustard-colored cover, such wonder of Ahiru Store wafts from the strokes of Mitsuyo-san, who once ran a calligraphy school.

It’s troubling that, because it’s so wonderful, I always end up drinking more than I should.

Photographed by Seishi Shirakawa
Written by Saya Kawada