Groovy Tokyo Bars

February 23, 2012

The Guardian have printed a list of trendy bars and clubs to check out in Tokyo. A nice variety of watering holes are featured in the article, and I can vouch for most of them, especially the brew pubs and whiskey bars, although I have yet to try Stand S’s “mojito beer”, which sounds like the contents of my stomach at 2:30AM. (I’ll try it nonetheless- anything for a challenge.) The only place mentioned that isn’t my cup of tea is the Trump Room, where I’m too old and flabby to blend in (and where apparently it is compulsory to wear black and silver, be anemically thin, and not drink anything.) Other than that place, there’s an epic pub crawl to be had!

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Japanese Booze News: Feb 2012

February 10, 2012

A nicely-named bar in Sannomiya, Kobe.

Hi, pals. Since this blog seems to get more traffic now than when I was actually writing it, I may as well start posting again. One afternoon a couple of weeks ago, 63,000 people checked out a story I wrote 3 years ago. It’s a bit like everyone buying Amy Winehouse’s records after she died. Well, I’m back from the grave!

I really should overhaul the look of this blog sometime soon, as well. The site is starting to look like some kind of archaic cyber-relic, like Friendster. Anyway, I’ll try updating a few times a week from now on, starting with a random assortment of booze-related bits and pieces below:

First off, the guys at Bridges (a weekly showcase of single content creators and their content) have kindly made a vlog about this very site. Check it out here. Very nice of them!

Next up, a friend of mine sent me a link to this epic list of brew pubs in the Tokyo and Yokohama area. As a lover of lager, ale, and stout, there are plenty of places on the list to help me further expand my gargantuan beer belly. I can definitely recommend Popeye’s in Ryugoku, which has over 70 beers on tap. I go there so often that the beer-bloat makes me comparable to the neighbourhood sumo wrestlers. The Aldgate in Shibuya is another of my regular haunts (they also sell amazing Cornish pasties), and the Thrash Zone is a really welcoming heavy-metal beer bar in Yokohama.

Also, I’ve only just noticed that CNNGO has been publishing lots of informative drinking-related articles in recent months, so I thought I’d post a couple here:
Here’s a helpful piece about the etiquette of drinking in Tokyo bars. The rules must only apply to the up-scale Ginza cocktail bars that I’m too skint to visit, however, because they are routinely broken in the grungy backstreet dives I end up in, where the locals can be seen blithely stripping naked, projectile vomiting, and playing Pop-Up-Pirate on even the rainiest Tuesday night.

And here’s another nice article, featuring three religion-themed watering holes in Tokyo, where you can be served by the likes of Buddhist monks or protestant ladies. I’m particularly keen to visit Yurei Izakaya (“The Ghost Bar”), a morbidly-themed bar in Kichijoji, which has miraculously escaped my attention until now. Their Russian-roulette kushiage skewers (one on each dish is packed with super-intense wasabi) is their claim to fame apparently!

Here are a couple more from CNNGO:
Why Japanese Bartenders Are the World’s Best
Tokyo to Yokohama on a 40-kilometer bar crawl


Japan Booze News 6/29

June 29, 2011

Hello, and thanks for reading another of my increasingly infrequent missives!
If I’m not posting much, it generally means there are lots of fun drink-related activities going on in Tokyo, and this month’s no exception.

Last week was father’s day, and numerous beer-related novelty products were flying off the shelves of shops such as Tokyu Hands. My favourite is the Takara Tomy Beer Hour, a device used to make pouring beer cans into glasses easier. You could buy this or, alternatively, you could simply tilt the glass a bit.

Summer is nearly here, the rain is gradually dying down and the rooftop beer gardens are starting to open.
Over the past few years, I’ve often ended up drinking in the sunshine atop the Kudan Kaikan hotel, near Kudanshita subway station (that beer garden is famous for its fetching bunnygirl waitresses), but since the roof of that hotel sadly collapsed during the big earthquake, I doubt there will be much partying going on there this summer. Fortunately, a suitable replacement has been provided in Odaiba by Hooters, who have opened a beer garden at the Grand Pacific Hotel, near Daiba station, for the summer. Until August 31st, it’ll be open daily from 4pm (or 11am on weekends) ’til 10:30.
You can find out more here.

The fun will continue in a couple of weeks, an hour south of Tokyo, in Shonan (self-styled “Miami Beach of Japan), where the wooden beach bars will be erected (and they’re not the only things that’ll be erected, once the bikini-clad hordes of Shibuya girls arrive to sun themselves. Fnarr fnarr!) The beaches of Enoshima, Zushi, Yuigahama (in Kamakura), and Hayama are all good spots for a refreshing beer overlooking the waves. The bars close at 9, at which point you can join the drunken deliquents merrily setting off fireworks on the beach. Even if you’re too skint for the beach bars, you can always grab a six-pack for the 7/11 and park your arse on the sand.

In Zushi, the Otodama Sea Studio beach bar has already opened for business, and will be playing host to various well-known Japanese live acts over the summer, including The Pillows, Garnet Crow, Orange Pekoe, and Ryo the Skywalker, as well as DJs Takkyu Ishino, Tomyuki Tanaka (Fantastic Plastic Machine), Shinichi Osawa, Ken Ishii, and Dex Pistols.

Finally, to make your Japan-based boozing easier, a book has been published called, Drinking Japan: A Guide to Japan’s Best Drinks and Drinking Establishments, by Chris Bunting. It is, by all accounts, an enjoyable and informative read, and I’ll be sure to post a review once I get hold of a copy. At the same time, it may well take a gargantuan dump on my hopes of ever writing a similar book. Ho-hum! I’m off to drown my sorrows at Hooters.


The Legless Arms

May 18, 2011

Ths pub in Shibuya has a snappy name.

Here’s a site about the place..


When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Drunk

May 16, 2011

Hello! I thought I’d better post something here, since a few readers have mailed me asking if I’m I’m still alive and in Japan. Yes and yes, although I’m feeling barely alive, since I’ve spent the last couple of months doing my best to help recover the weakened Japanese economy, by buying lots of drinks. I’ve attended various hanami parties, Golden Week parties, other people’s sayonara parties, and Tohoku earthquake/tsunami fundraising parties. I even won a yard-of-ale downing competition in an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day.

After the horrors of recent months, I’ve learned some important things. They are thus:
-Shibuya Shakey’s Pizza has all-you-can-drink beer for 500 yen.
-The waitresses at the Grade A bar in Yokohama’s Camelot Hotel now wear sexy bunny-girl costumes.


ANA’s New In-Flight Draft-Beer Service

July 13, 2010

The airline ANA are doing their best to make flying less tedious- as of July 20th, draft beer will be available on some of their domestic flights!
As Japan Probe has discovered, apparently they are the first airline to ever offer beer out of kegs.
The toliet queues will be worse, but the in-flight romantic comedies and episodes of Mr Bean might actually become watchable!
The catch is- they only offer 20 glasses of beer on each flight. So what am I going to drink for the other half of the journey?!


Jackson Five Bar

March 15, 2010

The other day I stumbled upon a Jackson Five-themed bar in Nakano, Tokyo. Groovy!

Perhaps the bar was named to commemorate the famous quintet’s epic 1979 concert in nearby Nakano Sun Plaza.
Unfortunately, the proprietors don’t stick too rigidly to the concept, as you can see from the sign: “we play trance, reggae, and hip-hop”. I don’t remember hearing any trance anthems by the Jackson Five!
However, the drinks are all four hundred yen during happy hour (from 6-9pm) which is fantastically cheap, and they’ve got a dartboard, so who’s complaining.

Jackson Five Bar:

東京都中野区中野5-67-12 SKビル B1F
Tel:03-3387-0230
More info (in Japanese) with a map: Jackson Five Bar

By coincidence, this week I also discovered Japan’s very own domestic answer to the Jackson Five, called “Finger 5”, who were great. Fronted by a pint-sized, bespectacled boy (who looks like a girl), and accompanied by his younger sister (who looks like a boy), and backed up by their three gangling teenage brothers, Okinawa’s Finger 5 made catchy bubblegum pop in the early seventies and had several smash hit singles (and even made four movies!) until an unsuccessful bid to crack America, combined with the inevitable onset of puberty and broken voices, put an end to their short-lived stardom.
Disappointingly, they all went on to lead normal lives, and didn’t become eccentric recluses, with pet monkeys and merry-go-rounds in their back gardens.
Check ’em out in action: