25 April, 2017
Travel

Nightlife in Japan: A Guide to Tokyo’s Small Bar Scene

25 April, 2017

Backstreet Brews

 

Imagine venturing into a city as densely populated as Tokyo and finding a space of your own. It’s not the internet café hostels or karaoke closets I’m thinking of, but the city’s captivating small bar scene. Tucked into a network of alleyways are the social nooks Tokyo is secretly famous for. No larger than a bedroom, these cosy hangouts seat as little as five people. Due to the size of the bars and the inevitable language barriers, they can be tricky to find. Luckily for you, Tokyo is the city to get lost in…

Read more: 24 hours in Tokyo: What To See & Where To Go In Just One Day

Golden Gai Tokyo

Golden Gai

Begin your night in Golden Gai, a maze-like drinking district that squeezes 200 bars into six streets. The district is akin to the laneway scenes of New York and Melbourne, yet it’s a whole other beast. While small bars are peppered throughout Tokyo, Golden Gai is remarkable for its sheer density of the bars.

In the softly lit alleyways, sure-footed partygoers busy about. It’s easy to feel like a bit of an outsider at first. Fortunately, the limited capacity of these bars won’t give you time to stall and you’ll rush inside whichever one has space! Understandably, you might want to be a little more selective than that. So…

Read more: 10 Tips for Solo Female Travellers

Bar Asyl

Get your feet wet at Bar Asyl. This haunt is the place to feel right at home. Abe, the owner is not only a drink-mixing wizard and the king of conversation, he also happens to write about K-Pop for a living. So settle in, enjoy the liquids and get to know the five other patrons who are probably there for the same reasons you are. Getting to Asyl, however, is an adventure in itself. Bring a map!

Read more: 8 Travel Instagram Accounts You Need to Follow

Zucca in Golden Gai Tokyo

Zucca

In Golden Gai, each venue distinguishes itself with a theme. The décor will usually give it away, but each bar is distinct with its own kind of patron. There’s everything from art-house cinema for the savants, punk rock for the musos and borderline S&M for all you ‘freaky’ people. So, to add a themed bar to your list, stop at the Halloween-themed, Zucca.

The drinking den of Zucca is popular among the ladies (yay!) and is wonderfully quirky in its commitment to theme. Zucca is “pumpkin” in Italian, and so the bar is dotted with pumpkin décor. It’s also known for its wildly friendly staff. Come more than once and you can expect to be greeted by name and with your signature drink.

Read more: 5 Reasons Taipei Makes for an Awesome Girls Getaway

Nana

End the night in Nana, another one of Golden Gai’s themed delights. This teeny joint is said to be the smallest flamenco bar in the world! It was founded in the early ‘60s by a Japanese woman who was mad for Spanish culture. As such, Nana is filled with Andalusian music and its regulars are Flamenco enthusiasts from Japan and beyond. In true Spanish style, Nanas serves delicious tapas even though only seven people fit inside!

Read more: Top Travel Destinations: Sassy’s Picks for 2017

A Few Tips…

 

  • To reach Golden Gai, get off the train at Shinjuku Station and take the east exit. It’s a short walk from here.
  • Some of the small bars are for members or regulars only. So, if you’re on walkabout and you’re unsure, flash a smile and ask before you enter.
  • While the bars above don’t have a cover charge, many of Golden Gai’s bars have an entry fee or table charge of around ¥700 (roughly $50)
  • One more thing… the bars don’t have fixed addresses! My best advice is to explore, ask a few locals and have a peek inside each establishment. Golden Gai is a six street labyrinth, so there is a bit of room for confusion – especially when drinks are involved – but not so much that you’ll wind up lost. It’s all part of your Tokyo adventure!

Featured image credited to Serena Coady, image #1 sourced via Pinterest, image #2 sourced via Photopin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top
#SoSassy
🚨 SASSY GIVEAWAY ALERT 🚨⠀
⠀
We’ve teamed up with Vancouver skincare brand Harlow for a great giveaway. We have two gift baskets crammed with its all-natural, thoughtfully + aesthetically designed products for one lucky reader to win (one each for you and a friend). ⠀
⠀
To enter:⠀
♥ 1. Tag the person you would share your prize with below.⠀
♥ 2. Follow @harlowskincohk ♥ 3. Follow @sassyhongkong ⠀
The competition closes on 4 July, so hurry! But if you miss out on this prize, don’t worry, Sassy readers can pick up a complimentary skin vial sampler at the Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong (limited to one per person, while stocks last). We recommend its brand new Flora toner, which is perfect for combating the HK humidity and the drying effects of constant air conditioning. ⠀
⠀
*This post is brought to you in Partnership with Harlow*⠀
⠀
#harlowskincohk #floraharlow ⠀
⠀
⠀
Ts&Cs apply. https://www.sassyhongkong.com/terms-conditions-harlow-instagram-giveaway/⠀
🧗‍♀️ If you’re looking to stay active but don’t love the idea of a traditional workout, these fun classes will be a game changer.

Check out *11 Workouts For People Who Hate To Work Out* on #sassyhongkong now.

#hongkongworkouts

Happy #NegroniWeek2019 Hong Kong. Kicking off today, and running until Sunday, 30 June, the international charity event showcases the classic cocktail, all while raising money for international charities across the globe.

Head to #sassyhongkong now to read *Where To Drink In Hong Kong For Negroni Week 2019*  for all the information you need on what to drink and which charities are being supported 🙌🏻 Link in bio and what’s on highlights.

#NegroniWeek2019 #hongkongcocktails
If you're looking for spices, chargrilled meats, mezzes and more? We've updated *The Best Middle Eastern Restaurants In Hong Kong* on #sassyhongkong. 

#sassytastes #doubledippers

📷@bedu_hk

Who's heading to the beach today? 🏖

#sassyloves the summer vibes of HK illustrator @ana.duje

#sosassy #sassysummer

🚨 SASSY GIVEAWAY ALERT 🚨

Want to learn all about coffee from the experts? Enter our giveaway for your chance to win a coffee tasting masterclass with @noccoffeeco! The class will cover everything from coffee sourcing, roasting and tasting, to learning all about single origin coffees and finding your perfect brew. And you’ll even be able to take home some of NOC’s signature beans to make your own perfect cuppa after the class. ☕️

Sound good to you? Enter simply by following three easy steps - 
♥ 1. Follow @noccoffeeco
♥ 2. Follow @sassyhongkong
♥ 3. Tag the friend that you’d take with you in this post! 

All entries must be submitted by Friday, 5 July 2019. Ts&Cs apply.

*This post is brought to you in partnership with NOC Coffee Co.*⁣

🏖 Planning a beach day for this weekend? Make sure you've read *The Best Beachside Restaurants And Bars In Hong Kong* updated now on #sassyhongkong. 

Discovery Bay to Shek O we’ve rounded up the best eateries on Hong Kong’s shorelines. 

📷@cococabanahk


Happy Pride Month Hong Kong 🏳️‍🌈. Check out *LGBTQI+ Books You Should Read This Pride Month* on #sassyhongkong and our stories. 

#loveislove #hkpride #lgbthongkong

#SoSassy

@SASSYHONGKONG