In my previous blog post, I briefly discussed the adventures of finding bars in residential areas or seemingly in the middle of nowhere in Tokyo. These types of bars are quite common in Tokyo, and the safe environment of night time allows both locals and visitors from overseas to explore and discover local bars in exactly the same manner. Walk around the small alleys and knock the door only with your luck and courage. The experience of finding a nice bar may be compared to digging into sand and collecting beautiful and exotic colored stones on the seashore.
Recently, a friend of mine told me about an interesting experience of visiting a bar near Yutenji temple in Meguro. Unfortunately, I forgot to write down the name of the bar when I first heard about it. I assumed that the area around the temple would not have any night bars, so I thought I could easily find it on Google Maps. I expected the first bar that appeared to be the one my friend mentioned. However, I soon realized I was mistaken. There were several nice-looking bars in the area, and I regretted not taking notes. But there was one bar that stood out for its mysteriousness. The bar had its name displayed on a pedestrian street, but its facade resembled an old second-hand clothing shop. The sliding door, in a residential style, seemed out of place for a night bar. It felt like entering someone’s house through the back door.
Through a passage leading to another door, you enter a bar space inside with a nice and chic atmosphere. The walls are all black, creating an intimate setting. A small hanging light illuminates the bottles behind the counter. The bar counter extends deep into the space, and there are several high tables in the back. The chairs at the counter are antique-style, reminiscent of those seen in the movie “The Matrix,” (maybe at the scene where Morpheus was giving a lecture to Neo.) The selection of bottles follows a casual night bar style, and I decided to try some Scotch single malt whiskies that I haven’t tasted in a while. The first one I ordered was the Highland Park, which had a unique briny taste, perhaps with a hint of local peat. Island malts always feel somewhat different from those in the Highland and Speyside regions. It’s as if the liquid has absorbed the “terroir” of the surrounding ocean. From my brief conversations with the master bartender, I learned that the bar had only started a few years ago. After years of training and working as a bartender, opening an independent bar was his dream, and now it has become a reality. I could sense his attention to detail in every aspect of the shop, including the unconventional entryway to the bar counter. I believe that visitors to night bars want to experience a transition, crossing a metaphorical “river” from the outside world into a bright and welcoming space. It’s a feeling of leaving behind your jacket, bags, and everything else you have, and coming with empty hands to fully relax.
The second bottle I tried was the “Inchgower” 14-year-old. It had a very interesting taste, especially considering that it had been aged for at least 14 years. However, it didn’t feel as old as I expected. It had some youthful, freshly bottled vigor and subtle notes. The influence of the casks was not very pronounced, allowing me to appreciate more of the malt flavors in the whisky.
During my visit, I arrived at the bar early, so there were no other clients. The owner mentioned that the bar gets crowded around midnight, suggesting that it is a popular spot for locals to visit after parties in Shibuya or elsewhere, before heading home. The prices are reasonable, and given the size and location, it is a suitable place for individuals or couples to enjoy a few drinks after a meal and relax. If you happen to live in the nearby area, I would recommend checking it out.