Despite the city’s modern, neon-lit image, small, old and cluttered bars are not a rarity in Tokyo. Quite the opposite in fact. It’s just finding them that’s all, as they are often tucked away down side streets near the capital’s more suburban train stations. Although even when a potential drinking spot has been spied, it’s generally impossible to say what it will be like on the inside. Now and again of course the exterior suggests it’ll be interesting, but invariably it’s just a case of opening the door and hoping for the best. Amazingly, however, the best is very often what you get: whether it be an ex-French chef cooking up a storm; an establishment where the bathroom absolutely beggars belief; or a cozy little concern packed full of character but not necessarily particular when it comes to cleanliness.
And this place, to happily prove the point, was no exception.
Like so many others, it too has the clutter and memories of many a year. An impressive fifty to be exact. But what really sets it apart is the old lady who basically lives in the small space by the end of the counter. A counter that itself only seats about six, although even that would be a push.
And from her position there, she regularly scowls at and berates her son — now (supposedly) in charge of the operation. A lovely fella who, from years of practice, cleverly gives the impression of listening to her, when in reality he clearly isn’t doing anything of the sort.
Very cool. But I don’t know who I feel more sorry for, the lady living there or the guy being harassed by her!
Hmm, tough call. Probably have to go for the old lady. It’s right by a busy road. And I mean right by. So must be pretty noisy. Although her son puts up with a fair bit of noise too!
Hans ter Horst says
Wow, this is great stuff! Immensely unique, I haven’t come across something like this yet. With okaasan looking over his shoulder, the place looks clean and attractive; but boy, does his mum look scary!
It looked interesting from the outside, but we couldn’t believe our luck when we opened the door. Although that wasn’t easy, as it’s so warped we actually needed assistance.
It was an odd one. He had no food. Also, while it looked clean, the glasses weren’t exactly sparking and there was a worrying amount of little flies buzzing about the place. But it really was fascinating. And the mother? She was lovely with us. Not so much her son!
What a joint. And the lady lives there?! Wow! 😮
It really is. A very special little place. Although not necessarily a special place to live in…
Zhao Yuxing says
I have been to an eatery in Osaka where the family has a baby bed at the end of the small dinning area. And people smoke inside too!!
Actually I am curious, how did you photograph them? Just casually snapping a picture or did you asked them first; get them to smile, pose? Because those are really great shots, like one gotta be close to them before being able to take such pictures.
I really love your site!
Thanks a lot!
Cheers. The first two shots I took without them knowing. Quickly fired them off. But the last one I asked if it was ok take. Not something I usually do as I’m not a fan of posed shots, but really wanted one of that side of the bar.
d. minnis says
This may be your most quirky location yet Lee….but fascinating. You say he had no food, what are all the sauces for?
I think you might be right. It’s quite a place.
I know. Didn’t get that either. As soon as we’d managed to open the door, he told us there was no food. Why that should be the case I don’t know, but he had beer and a fascinating little place, so that was enough.
How do you keep finding these amazing places?! You must eat and drink a lot… 😉
We walk about a lot until we find somewhere that looks interesting, so the exercise counters the booze and food. Or at least some of it!
So much fun to be had in those bars, I much preferred them to the mainstream bars.
Definitely. Way more character, and always much more fun. Plus as an added bonus they are invariably as cheap as chips too.
Amen to that. I’d tip myself upside down with food and drink and settle up the tab for 3500 yen!