Bars in Japan: Miscellany
Eggnog Goes Bananas

Bars in Japan: Observations

Here are some observations about bars in Japan from my trip with Suntory whiskies. 

  • You can smoke in bars in Japan. Bars were all a little bit smoky, but none of them I visited were smoky that your eyes hurt. 
  • When you enter a cocktail bar and most other types of bars, they give you a hot wet towel to wipe your hands. Even the low-end bars give you a wet-nap version of this. This is lovely and I'd like to see some bars in the US do it. 
  • For many bars it's seated customers only. You pop your head in and ask if there is room before entering. 
  • A lot of cocktail menus don't list the drink ingredients, only the name, even for original creations. What good is that?  
  • When barhopping at home, I can have just one drink at each bar. In Japan I noticed that my hosts always steered me toward a second drink. I think that it's impolite to leave after just one. 
  • Understanding Japanese gets easier after the third drink. However, it gets really hard again after the tenth. 
  • Japanese people can drink a lot. I have a healthy layer of fat and yet all of my skinny Japanese hosts kept up or surpassed me nightly.
  • Bars have a cover charge.
  • Almost every bar offers some food. A snack is often included in the cover charge, but they offer much more. Thus you can go barhopping without eating first -you're going to be eating at every place you go. 

Thanks Japan, you are awesome!

Karaoke bar shinjuko tokyo_tn


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So the cover charge is like a 'gratuity' ?

Camper English

As I understand it from Chris Bunting's book, the cover charge is technically for a small food snack. I mean, it's really a cover charge that includes the snack. But since tipping is not done in Japan, Bunting suggests that you think of it as the gratuity.

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