Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Bar Crawl Tokyo

   Tokyo is a great place to go bar crawling!  You can find any number of tiny bars to squeeze into, and being such a sprawling metropolis, you can find the most amazing theme bars imaginable.  Anything goes, and usually does!  Here is a selection of some of the Tokyo bars I hit recently, and some I didn't quite make into, but had a peer into from street level.

   Shimokitazawa is a favourite haunt, with some iconic bars tucked away in side streets.

   Trouble Peach has a suitably inviting doorway, street sign, and enigmatic name.  Upstairs is a dark bar filled with vinyl and booze.  

   Next door is the equally enigmatically named Idiot Savant bar.  

   Busted peering into a bar with my camera!

   Sleeping in bars seems to be fine.  Not sure if this was staff or a loitering customer...

   Sometimes just looking in from the outside offers great inviting visuals...

   um...no comment...?

   Bar Budokan is on the corner near some other tiny tiny bars near the Shimokitazawa Town Hall, just up the road from the Shimo Disc Union.  Somewhat smaller than the actual Budokan, the bar has 3 seats at the bar, and another 3 or 4 chairs out on the footpath.  Very intimate.

   The bar staff at Bar Budokan has a small triangular work space, measuring (I would guess) around 2 meters triangular!  And he still has time for smiles!

   Now to my favourite Heavy Metal (and other) bars in Shinjuku.  This is the infamous Mother Rock Bar in Kabukicho, Shinjuku.  This shot (and the following) were taken with an ultra-wide angle lens, so the bars appear larger than they actually are.  Mother fills with about 9 or so people.  It's in a basement, is dark, and loud as hell.  Lots of Heavy Metal and Punk to choose from, they have a music request menu which also includes non-heavy metal as well.  But be prepared for loud, hard music all night long!

   Godz, just around the corner from Mother Rock Bar, is purely, evilly, Heavy Metal Only!  This bar is spacious compared to most of the bars featured here, but still on the small side, also in a basement, somewhat better lit, and an incomparable selection of Heavy Metal of all kinds!  Requests are also welcome, the louder the better!  Also a good place to go to try and catch up with touring heavy metal acts who drop in, and leave signed shikishi (square pieces of paperboard) which Godz has a nice collection of.   

   A recent discovery of mine, also up the road from Godz, still in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, the Neon Genesis Evangelion Bar.  A bar dedicated to the ground-breaking anime series, full of eva toys, posters, soundtracks, and ephemera, the tv plays episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion.  And the final kicker (as if that wasn't enough), the staff will shout 'Service Service' when you depart (which fans of the show will understand and appreciate).  It is also right next door to the One-Piece bar, which was closed at the time I wanted to grab a picture.  Ah well...next time.

   The Ayanami Rei side of the toy collection at the Eva bar, Shinjuku.  Outrageous!

   The Dhali Curry Bar, a bit further into Kabukicho, has drinks and food, and an exterior and interior decorated with tastefully arranged masses of thrown away techno-trash.  It's like drinking inside a computer!  Dhali, the owner, also runs Funk-time, a Psy Trance club, not far away. 

   Of course, when we are talking about tiny bars and Shinjuku, no visit is complete without trying one or 5 of the ultra-tiny bars in Golden Gai, a series of narrow alleyways crammed with over 200 stupidly small bars.  Anything goes, theme-wise here.  There was a bar dedicated to the Pink Floyd album Atom Heart Mother (that's specialised!), which I couldn't find this time around, so I'm not sure if it's still there or not.  But there's still plenty of choice.  This one is Bar Albatross (which also has another, equally tiny bar in Omoide Yokocho or Memory Lane near Shinjuku station) which attracts Japanese, local ex-pats and tourists alike.  The one in Golden Gai has 3 stories (well, 2 and a half), and is seriously cramped, but gorgeously decked out.

   A shot of the corner of Bar Albatross, Golden Gai

   Over to Roppongi quickly, a stupid all-nighter in Roppongi is likely to start out at Bar Mistral, also known as the Train Bar.  The exterior (shown here) looks like a train carriage that crashed into the wall and was converted into a bar.  The interior is, you guessed it, cramped, and decked out like a train carriage.

   Back to Kabukicho, and another loud request bar, bar Psy (which, as far as I can tell, has no Psy, but lots of heavy metal, and not heavy metal), just across the road and up a few floors from Mother Rock Bar.

   In Kichijoji, Harmony Ka Yokocho has around 100 shops, crammed in to a small sprawl, and the beer flows.  It's a great little area to photograph, and drink in.

My images do not belong to the Public Domain. All images in this portfolio are owned and © copyrighted by Peter Pascoe. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from myself is prohibited by law. All rights reserved.


  1. Very fabulous, really appreciate what you have done here. Sitting in a gallery at mo and will give artistic props to images of Bar Albatross and both Bar Budokan pics.

  2. Thanx Andrea! Glad you enjoyed the photos! Out of curiosity, which gallery were you sitting in?

  3. I‘m at the Post Office Gallery (POG), in the revamped central GPO. Can see the gold in the walls. Officially it‘s a satelite gallery of Bendigo Art Gallery, and one of their curators run it. Presently there is an exhibiton of the Forest Street archaeological dig, very historical; yadda, yadda. Just volunteering a few mornings a week.