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Tea Leaves

Japan's jazz coffee bars transcend global barriers

For devoted followers, 'kissa' celebrate coffee, cool music and delights of cultural appropriation

It's a sunny Saturday afternoon, but it might as well be around midnight. I'm sitting in a basement room in the Yotsuya area of Tokyo, sipping strong black coffee and listening to an obscure 1986 album by tenor sax player Chico Freeman called "The Pied Piper." I know that because the LP cover is propped up in a place where I and all the other customers can see it -- right in front of the booth housing the sound system.

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