Opening the door and stepping inside an old, unknown Tokyo bar is always done with at least a touch of trepidation. Will it be good? What will it look like? And perhaps most worrying of all, will we be even welcome?
Thankfully this place ticked all the boxes and then some. A wonderfully dated establishment with bags of character and an owner so friendly it immediately felt like we’d been going there for years.
Although nowhere near as many years as it’s been open, which is a very impressive 50 and counting. Even more impressive, however, is that the jovial fella in charge is the establishment’s one sole proprietor. A man now into his 71st year, but in possession of such energy and enthusiasm that it’s still possible to picture the young buck who started the business all those years ago.
Some places are way more photogenic than others, and despite the limited space, the bar below is definitely one to go back to — hence its numerous appearances on these pages over the years. It has arguably the grubbiest lamp one could ever imagine. Character and customer-wise it sometimes seems like it’s stuck in the past. Plus inquisitive stares are often an additional part of the scene. The latter of which I got lucky with again in this latest photo.
Tokyo has a wonderful habit of conjuring up surprises — even in the city’s largely characterless residential areas. Like this fantastically equipped classical music cafe. A completely unexpected oasis of eccentric calm in an otherwise nondescript little street.
Independent bars and eateries overseen by sprightly septuagenarians aren’t a rarity in Tokyo — quite the opposite in fact. There’s this one owned by a lovely lady for example, and this wonderful establishment run by a jovial ex-French chef.
However, while such places obviously differ in regards personnel, there are often certain similarities: they are tiny, cluttered and show a decidedly cavalier approach when it comes to cleanliness. Common elements very much in evidence in the drinking den pictured below.
In business for over 40 years, and run by its 70-year-old owner, the bar is definitely on the cosy side, with seating at the counter for only 7 or 8 people.
And, as previously mentioned, it follows a familiar pattern by not being exactly spick-and-span.
But, what it is above all else is friendly. Not to mention an awful lot of fun.