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When the Tone Rings

Tokyo: Table

Taking a late night work telco whilst knocking the top off a nama in a Naka Megruo izakaya. The only other people in the bar are a couple of couples rounding off a meal and the end-of-a-shift energy emanating from host of this tiny joint. The remaining bodies alternate between sake shots, making runs to the loo, lighting up and nibbling on complimentary we’re-about-to-close chunk of melon. When a mobile phone rings its tone is familiar to these ears to the point of generic – the Nokia tune.

The reaction to that tune varies depending on whether you’re sitting in Europe or the US, or China or India, a hip bar, a queue for the 73 bus, a school yard. It can quicken the pulse, warm the heart, trigger a yawn, raise a smile or a smirk – it just depends who you are, and where you are at. For those around you it’s a filter through which they view you – a ring tone being, after all an established vehicle for self expression and status.

But here, in this bar in Tokyo coming across that tune is well unusual. The Japanese market is dominated by local manufacturers so a sighting on a night out is not assured.

She reaches into her hand bag eventually fishes out the ringing mobile. And it’s not a Nokia.