Tokyo bar in what’s basically a shed

In what is little more than a converted shed situated beside a suburban station’s bicycle parking space, several men of a certain age regularly gather to drink and eat. The place probably seats about seven. Any more would be uncomfortable cozy. And the toilet is in another shed at the other end of the bike park.

But these aspects are simply a part of its charm. As is the owner, who for the last twenty years or so has served drinks, chatted amiably and cooked simple, very reasonably priced food. All done after a daytime cleaning job at a nearby private school. A tough life it would seem, but one she simply gets on with.

Tokyo bar kitchen

Tokyo red light lunch spot

Despite the red light, these fellas were after nothing more unseemly than a quick sit down and some sustenance. But as well as food, they obviously like a bit of atmosphere; something this alleyway has in abundance. So much in fact that it almost feels like another world when compared to the chain restaurant clogged main street a mere few metres away.

Tokyo red light alley lunch spot

Tokyo alley drunks

These two colourful characters may well have been incredibly drunk by mid-afternoon, but they are almost certainly not what one would call lightweights. Quite the opposite in fact, as the bars in this alleyway — and indeed the surrounding area — are open from late, til very late; meaning that more than likely they had been knocking back the booze since the night before. An impressive feat that makes their inebriated state simply expected, rather than anything even approaching a surprise.

Tokyo drunks

An old Tokyo bar and its even older owner

Away from the bright lights and busy streets, Tokyo boasts a huge number of local bars, many of which are run by senior citizens. Fascinating, often grubby little places that are filled with as much character as their unflagging and friendly hosts.

And this small bar and eatery is no different, along with the added bonus of a design that blurs the ideas of inside and outside.

old Tokyo bar and its old owner

But age can, at times, catch up. And with all the serving and cooking that had to be done, the master began to visibly wilt.

old Tokyo bar and its old owner

Determined not to be defeated, however, he sneaked in a few naps during the occasional downtime.

old Tokyo bar and its old owner

Resulting in him still going strong when we were looking at getting the last train.