I glanced up and saw a statue of a naked woman. Her hands were clasped behind her head, sultry and cold. Empty eyes stared ahead without pupils. Old bronze skin was sallow except for on her left breast and cheek, where dim orange light from an adjacent lamp vainly tried to bring her to life.
The stairs were narrow and twisted to the right. When I reached the bottom a hot spotlight shined in my eyes.
"Hello!" the barman shouted in a thick accent that split the word in two. "Can I get you beer?"
The man held court over a low wooden bar that barely came up to his hips. Eight stools were backed up against the left wall, awaiting customers to pull them forward. Half-full bottles of bourbon, Japanese Scotch, and shochu lined the wall behind the man.
"Kirin, please," I said.
He smiled wide, teeth nearly as yellow as his bleached blonde hair, which was spiked so high that it nearly touched the short ceiling. I sat at the last seat up against the wall, under a giant poster of a woman holding a machine gun and making a face that the bronze statuette wished she could make. I was the only person in the bar, but with the man and the liquor and posters of scantily-clad women towering over the stools, it felt it could barely fit another.
The man filled a glass from the tap and set it down quickly, causing a little foam to spill onto the bar.
"Ah, thank you," I said. "Arigato."