Anywhere in the world, it’s safe to say that the majority of us enjoy a glass of wine or two or a swig of whatever the local tipple might be. Japan is most certainly no different. The stressful Tokyo city life prompts office ladies and salarymen to indulge in the consumption of alcohol on a fairly regular basis. There are a number of different types of establishment in the city, some of which are explored below.
If you’re missing home and don’t quite fancy one of the more wackier bars in Tokyo (there are many), then heading across to one of the many ‘Hub’ establishments. The Hub chain is branded and marketed as an English Pub experience, where pints are served readily.
A fairly impressive selection of beers, bitters and lagers are served here, so you won’t miss your home brew. On the flipside of this, they also serve an almost unimaginable number of Japanese beers and spirits, so you won’t miss out on the local brews either. If you’re hungry, there’s an ‘English’ menu that lists fish and chips, pies and other British cuisines. Cheap, fun and social.
2. Shinjuku 8-bit Cafe
If you’re visiting Japan and you just so happen to be into video games – which let’s face it, is very likely – you’ll be glad to know that there’s more than one bar that cater to many distinct gaming tastes. By far the best and most interesting of these is 8-Bit Cafe in Shinjuku. This neon heaven worships the throne of 1980’s gaming at its peak.
The walls are expectedly lined with retro games consoles and they have what can only be described as a library of strategy guides to help any wayward gamers, lost in worlds they cannot find their path in – not to mention they’ve probably had a fair few video game themed cocktails to help them lose their way.
It’s entirely possible that Kagaya is the strangest bar on the face of the planet. The owner, Mark Kagaya, who lovingly named the bar after himself, has endeavoured to construct an environment of madness and fun. We are pleased to say that he has done so, successfully.
Mostly in fancy-dress, Mark waits on the patrons with a charm like no other – Once you’ve chosen what you want from the bizarre and largely nonsensical, hand-written menu, his quirky and mischievous hand puppets will take your order. Bored during your meal? He will bring an array of trinkets and toys to your table to entertain you as best he can.
Head in with an open mind and you’ll be sure to enjoy yourself.
4. Karaoke Kan
Karaoke in the west is subject to the Marmite dichotomy; you either love it or you hate it. The same is not so in Japan, at least not on the surface. After a few beverages, heading to a Karaoke bar is one of the single most popular things to do on a night out in Tokyo.
One of the better known establishments is the Karaoke Kan chain. With floor after floor and room after room, you’ll be unlucky if they’re full. With thousands of Japanese and western classics to choose from, as well as a broad range of drinks snack and tambourines, Karaoke Kan’s service is brilliant. Once you’ve decided what you want, simply pick up the intercom and buzz down your order – within 10 minutes you’ll have everything you wanted and you simply head downstairs to the reception and pay the bill at the end.
To get the chance to go to Tokyo, you’ll need to fly into either Haneda or Narita international airports and then get on one of the many train or coach services that run into the city. Getting to Tokyo by air is really quite simple too, as flights are taking less time, all the time. It would be wise to make use of the very convenient Stansted airport parking facilities as driving to the airport rather than relying on public transport means less hassle.