Well, AJ and I stroll up to this place that is conveniently located behind two parked cars in a driveway. The only way we found it was by the giant hanging red lantern. We walk in and grab a table. Instantly noticing there are only men in the place. Wait! There is one woman and she looks as she has never been here before. AJ grabs a bottle of Kirin Beer for 500 yen, which is pretty damn cheap for a liter of beer. Looking around the bar you can see why there are only men in the place. There is a thick cloud of cigarette smoke hovering above every table. Each table has about 5-8 guys crowed around a small table big enough to hold some small glasses, tiny portions of food and several ashtrays. Coupled with the small yakitori station in the corner where spewing out fumes from chicken fat dripping in the fire as the customers grill their own meat. This is my type of place.
The men are dressed in their standard black jackets, white shirts, black pants, black shoes and colored ties so to show some type of individuality. You know... normal Japanese Businessmen attire. Laughter fills the room as a new member joins the table. Everyone is letting off steam after a long 10 hour day of work. The men tip back the glasses of booze, beer, shochu and sake. Smoke a pack or two and tell lies, stories and jokes. It is a true happiness bar with everything you can want... except women. There is only one.
You see this type of place is not your typical Japanese Izakaya. It is special. It is a traditional Japanese place that has been off the map for decades. Only the good, the bad and the lucky find it. As I said no women are there. That is because they are not allowed. Yeah, that is right. Women can join men but the owner, an oba-chan (grandma), will not allow women groups. She told me 1. they talk too much, 2. complain about the state of the bathrooms, & 3. they do not drink enough. Those seem like good reasons. Right? Oh I failed to mention something very important. This bar is special, wait I said that. This bar is a traditional Japanese place. Oh, I said that too. Oh, I know. It is a coin bar. "Coin bar?", you ask. Yeah, a coin bar.
There is not a bartender, a waiter and for sure not a waitress. To get your drinks you walk up to a coin operated machine that dispenses your choice of three kinds of Shochu, Awamori, one Sake that you can get hot or cold, some Tory's a cheap Japanese whiskey and of course some beer. It cost you 100 Yen for a shot!!! That is basically ONE DOLLAR.
You grab a glass that is on the side of the machine, put it under the spout, drop in a coin and bingo; shochu, awamori, sake, whiskey or beer. Walk to the counter, where the oba-chan is selling food, and grab some ice cubes or water if you need then tilt back like the rest of the boys and enjoy the good times. AJ and I walked out of there filled up with bar food and booze and spent about 1600 yen together. About 16 dollars. We both had a liter of beer, tofo, veggies, meat sticks, 4 awamori and 2 beers. Yeah, 6 drinks each Anyone, want to come see this place? I think I am heading there now.