Stand up please! How to have a good time at a Tachinomiya.Culture
“Tachinomiya” literary means “stand up and drink” in Japanese. These standing only bars can be found in most Japanese cities and are one of the best ways to meet interesting locals.
Japanese standing bars are a pretty straightforward no-frills affair where primarily Japanese workers meet up for a snack and a few drinks to wind down after a long day in the office. These bars can be found all over Japan but are mostly centred around the back streets near major mass transit hubs. They vary in range from very basic hole-in-the-wall type of joints with a capacity of half a dozen people at most, to bigger places that specializes in things like “Jizake” (local sake) or craft beer.
The standard range of drinks otherwise tend to be the usual salaryman favourites -- beer, whiskey and a few kinds of sake. While you shouldn’t expect to have a filling meal consisting of a wide range of dishes at a Tachinomiya, you can at least expect them to have a range of smaller dishes on offer. Yakitori, kushiyaki, beef stew and edamame are common examples.
The low prices tend to be one of the main draws of Tachinomiya. With price tags of less than 500 yen per drink is not uncommon. Although the price range can vary quite a bit depending on the shop and location, expect prices to at least be lower than at the neighbouring restaurants and izakaya that offers things like comfortable seats.
Another main draw is the proximity to other guests and the high probability of spontaneous conversations with new people that this entails, particularly once everyone has had a few drinks. Tachinomiya in general are also quite accommodating to solo guests. A smile and a nod are often a good way to inquire if the seat next to someone else is available.
Three of our favourite areas in Tokyo where you’ll find plenty of Tachinomiya are:
This district is something of a salaryman’s paradise, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the area is full of tachinomiya. Explore any narrow alley that you can find in the blocks on the west side of the station, and you’ll find enough options that will last you for several nights worth of standing and drinking.
Within walking distance from Shinbashi, this area too has a lot to offer. One of the most iconic tachinomiya in Tokyo – called Akitaya – is located here. If you want to admire a great view of Tokyo Tower while sipping on highballs and nibbling on Kusaya, a smelly yet delicious kind of grilled fish, this is a safe bet.
For those of you who are really adventurous, we recommend a visit to this area in northern Tokyo. Being an important transit hub for Saitama residents, the streets around the station are full of local izakayas including plenty of standing only establishments. You can get here with the JR Saikyo line and the JR Keihin Tohoku Line from most major stops in central Tokyo.