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Tuesday, 13th December 2011
In General Japan News, Sports,

Official AC Milan-themed cafe opens in Japan

The first ever cafe devoted to the Italian football team AC Milan has opened in Nagoya, Japan.

Offering fans and tourists the chance to immerse themselves in the iconic football team, the cafe is the brainchild of 28-year-old Arimasa Iwata.

Serving traditional Italian food, coffee and wine, the AC Milan Caffe e Ristorante brings a slice of Milan to Japan.

Given that Italy itself doesn't even have a cafe officially endorsed by the football team owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, visitors may be forgiven their surprise at the cafe.

Even Mr Iwata realises that people find it slightly odd.

"Customers often ask me, 'Why in Nagoya?'," he confesses.

However, it was an easy decision for the football fanatic, who quit his company job and began negotiating with the football club in a bid to persuade them to come on board as official partners.

Earlier this year the football club opened a soccer school for children living in the Aichi Prefecture and it was through the new institution that Mr Iwata opened up his dialogue with Milan.

"The Milan side was really cooperative," said Iwata, though he did have some problems initially because of the differences between the laws in Japan and Italy.

Now, he is hoping that by opening his cafe he can help the local economy even further.

Decorated in the team's iconic red and black colours, the cafe is festooned with Milan memorabilia, including signed shirts and photographs of legendary players such as the former Italy captain Paolo Maldini and Marco Van Basten.

While the cafe shows Milan games as well as the Japan national side's games on a huge 100-inch screen, Mr Iwata maintains that it is more a cafe and less a sports bar.

"I want my cafe to be a place where you feel like you are in Italy in Japan," he said.

Written by Susan Ballion