In Los Angeles, my home when I am not
on the road shooting, it is a well-documented fact that most waiters are
aspiring actors. In Tokyo, most waiters are professionals who take their jobs
seriously. It’s an interesting paradox that there is no tipping in Japan, yet
the standard of service there was recently rated by a group of international
travelers as the best in the world.
So it came as a surprise to discover
that the sole server at Kagaya is one of the best comic actors I have ever
witnessed at close range. If you put Mr. Bean, Jim Carrey and Charlie Chaplin
in a blender and hit “mix”, you would end up with Mark Kagaya, the manic
owner/server/host/entertainer. Mark-san is a true eccentric. As a server, he
was calm, cool and dare I say, very efficient. But every time he emerged from
his tiny closet in a new outfit, he embodied a different larger-than-life
persona. The most amazing thing is that he would never break character. If we
had a technical glitch, or wanted to reshoot something while he was in
character, we had to enter his new reality. Awkward when he was dressed as a frog!
Mark-san has so many different
characters that we couldn’t include them all in the six-minute segment. In fact
if you go to his restaurant (which I highly recommend), chances are, you will
see a completely different set of outfits and routines. Be forewarned, some of
these are full of sexual innuendo and others involve mild forms of assault and
battery—yes, on the diners! Rest assured it’s all in good fun, and the kidney
jabs only hurt for a minute or two. Be sure to order a drink from the cocktail
list and select England as your “country of choice”. The full two-minute
routine with which it is brought to your table by a tray-carrying bear is so mind-blowing
original that Mark-san should consider moving to L.A. and teaching acting.
Kagaya’s hours are as eccentric as its owner, so call in advance.