[Tokyo] When you just want to have one drink
A walker's guide to Monzen-nakacho, an historic downtown area of Tokyo
As the name indicates, Monzen-nakacho flourished as a town at the front gates of Tomioka Hachiman Shrine and Fukagawa Fudo-do Temple. When you walk through the town, you will see lots of old established shops selling sweets, Fukagawa rice dishes, eel dishes, and so on that cater to worshippers coming to these shrines and temples and still look like they did back in the days when Tokyo was called Edo.
In contrast to the old historic downtown atmosphere, you will also see many people of the younger generation coming here in recent years. In old buildings that once housed makers of amazaké (a sweet fermented rice drink) you will find cafés specializing in good coffee, and on the benches along these streets of shops you will see members of the older generation who came to pray at the shrines and temples and are now taking a break. And next to them are parents and their kids who live in this town and are enjoying a day out.
Let's take a walk through this town where the young and elderly mingle in the midst of the old and new.
[Tokyo] When you just want to have one drink
The sun is already setting after your day of walking around the town. The days are short in winter, but you don't yet feel like going home. So you don't go back right away and decide to have a bite to eat and a drink. Now let's go and enjoy Happy Hour.
Monzen-nakacho prospered as a red-light district during the Edo period, and today there are still lots of drinking establishments, many of which you can easily go in to have a beer just a couple of doors down from the café and enjoy the twilight. Or you could take out a hot wine and have it at a nearby park. You just came for one drink, but you might find you like the place and end up having one or two more....
You're feeling rather tipsy now as you continue your way home. You feel warm inside, while the air is cold but clear outside. You might also think to yourself, "This will be a good year!"
This spot with just 7 seats is filled with Shizuoka Oden.
Nice Idea is a creative Oden shop that just opened in July 2016 in Tatsumi Shindo, a drinking area that looks like it did in the old days. Its main fare is Shizuoka-style Oden, but there are many original offerings that the owner-chef has created himself. We recommend that you try the Mekajiki Oden made with swordfish supplied from the Tsukiji fish market. The drink menu includes specially selected Japanese saké and shochu rarely seen at other shops. It's small, so you can enjoy talking with others seating near you.
Oden of the oily (o-toro) sections of bluefin tuna and swordfish that you'll find nowhere else.
Oden (leek bomb, hanpen, harigane, bluefin toro, swordfish o-toro) ¥200, Sawaya Matsumoto Ultra ¥600
Open: 18:00-24:00（last orders 23:00）
Closed: Sundays & public holidays
Enjoying pickled nozawana and craft beer while reading
A beer bar where time passes so slowly that people even come to read a book. The owner-chef is from Nagano Prefecture where he sources Japan-produced craft beer, homemade pickled nozawana (a green vegetable) that has a nice crunchy texture, and others; the menu reflects the owner-chef's love of Shinshu Nagano cuisine. Munchies like sausages and bacon steaks are also irresistable for people who love beer.
Relaxing with a beer under the lights
African pale ale Shiga Kogen beer (Nagano) from ¥730
Shinshu nozawana pickles, wasabi flavored ¥320
Open: Weekdays 16:00-23:30 （last orders 22:30）
Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays 14:00-22:00
Closed: Mondays and Tuesdays
Big hotpot of hot wine made with aromatic spices and fruits
A casual bar constructed to look like a sea hut. The menu changes with the season, with frozen beer in summer and hot wine in winter. The hot wines are made from blends of 14 novel ingredients such as pineapple and black pepper, and you can take it out, too, if you like. There's a window on the outside of the shop where you can order your hot wine and enjoy it while walking in the street or a park.
Warming up a cold body
Hot wine ¥700 (take-out ¥500)
Mixed nuts ¥400
Open every day
Spacious café along the road to the shrine where men and women, both young and old, come
A café located in a building that was once a sweet fermented rice drink (amazaké) shop along the road leading to the Fukagawa Fudo-do Temple. Here you can enjoy a menu that includes authentic espresso and brownies, as well as Coedo beer made at a Japanese brewery. On Friday evenings it also operates as a bar where you can enjoy drinks to your heart's content, so the transformation in atmosphere from day to night is one of the charms of this shop. You might also enjoy sitting on a bench along the road to soak up the remnants of the day.
Outdoor bench where you can spend time with your dog
Brownie (chocolate) ¥280, Coedo beer (white or black) ¥700
Open: Monday to Thursday 8:00-19:00
Fridays 8:00-21:30 （last orders 21:00）
Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays 9:00-18:00
Sumptuous cutlet skewers (kushikatsu) and refreshing highballs
You'll find large portions of cutlet ingredients on the skewers and an impressive offering of Japanese saké at this kushikatsu shop. There are also some unusual items like avocado and festive red rice (seki-han), which we are told came as a result of suggestions from customers. There's even "Dan-ball" (warm highball) made from Awamori (Okinawan shochu) that was aged in a bourbon cask, an idea that came from a regular customer who is an awamori master. By the way, sauce is provided where you sit, so you can add more as needed while you dine.
Here you'll find rare cutlets on a skewer
Avocado, thickly sliced bacon ¥277, Ika-uni (squid + sea urchin) ¥555, Dan-ball ¥466
A Japanese pub where children are welcome and you can compare various kinds of saké
At Kushi-sho there's saké from all parts of Japan. When the Beigoma Games and other events are held, the shop is alive with locals, and there is a special price that lets you try various kinds of saké. Munchies include Oden and cream cheese made with ginjo saké lees. There are also candies and other snacks for kids who come with customers. Kushi-sho is a treasurehouse for people who love Japanese saké.
Drnking while standing and snacking on candies
Eikun, yamahai junmai-shu, Aiyama (Shizuoka Pref.) ¥700, Kamo-ham (black pepper) ¥400, Ball-shaped konjac (tama-konnyaku) ¥150
Open every day