There are lots of Tachinomi or standing bars in the Tokyo area.
Most of them offer reasonably priced drinks, snacks and few light meals. Two have been mentioned (Ginza 300 and the Shibuya 300 yen bars)
They are springing up everywhere according to an article on the Yomiuri Website.
Standing-only bars prove hit amid recession
Tachinomi (standing-only bars) are mushrooming in central Tokyo and attracting customers keen to enjoy reasonably priced food and drinks.
Among the most popular is motsuyaki (roast giblets) bar Ishii, near Shinjuku Sanchome Station in Tokyo.
When I visited the bar--whose slogan is "Nihon saisei sakaba," which literally means "a bar that will revitalize Japan"--the floor was packed with customers drinking at the counter or around metal barrels placed around the room and used as tables. Some patrons were eating motsuyaki while others were drinking beer.
About half of the guests were fairly young.
Space is at a premium in the narrow establishment and many customers simply lean against the bar while enjoying their drinks. This manner of drinking is dubbed the "Dark style," after the Dark Ducks, a popular male chorus group that stood side-on to the audience while performing.
"Drinking this way makes optimal use of the available space and allows as many people as possible to enter a small bar," said essayist Rui Yoshida, 60, who in April released a guidebook to Tokyo's tachinomi bars called "Tokyo Tachinomi Annai" (published by Media Research Inc.).
According to Yoshida, the current boom can be traced back to 2004, when the number of tachinomi bars in Tokyo had increased to about 600, compared with about 150 that existed in the 1990s.
Many tachinomi bars have opened in the high-rise buildings that recently sprung up around Tokyo Station, including a Nihon Saisei Sakaba franchise branch that opened in 2007 in the Shin-Marunouchi Building.
This branch opened at the request of Mitsubishi Estate Co., which manages the building. "We thought people would like the bar's unique layout, which differs from those of normal restaurants usually found in such buildings," a Mitsubishi Estate official said.
However, the primary reason for the popularity of tachinomi bars is likely their reasonable prices.
For example, such bars serve kushiyaki (grilled meat or vegetables on skewers) for about 100 yen per item, with motsunikomi giblet stew costing about 150 yen.
"There's a higher turnover of customers at tachinomi bars compared with other types of bars," one Tokyo bar manager said. "We keep our prices down based on a low-margin high-turnover policy."
Another reason for the popularity of such bars is their relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
Tamaki Maruyama, 33, a company employee in Yokohama, often visits a tachinomi bar near Tokyo Station. "I can drop in casually, even if I'm just having a glass of beer," she said.
Many tachinomi bars also serve up international cuisine. One such establishment is Provencale, which opened in 2005 in the Kabukicho district of Shinjuku, Tokyo. The bar's specialty is home-style French food, served up by manager Masayuki Sato, 40, who worked as a cook in Paris and other cities.
Like other tachinomi bars, Provencale features reasonably priced food and drinks--including a glass of wine for 390 yen and a plate of cold ham for 300 yen.
Sato says the bar's clientele has changed since the recession hit last autumn.
"We attract customers who used to go to normal restaurants, but who now want to enjoy wining and dining without breaking the bank," Sato said.
However, Fumihiro Oshima, a 47-year-old company employee in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, who occasionally visits tachinomi bars with business associates, offers another reason for the popularity of tachinomi bars. "Due to the small bar space and the proximity of the customers, it's easy to strike up conversations with complete strangers," he said.
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