The transformation of Japanese snack bars from red-light districts to tourist attractions | Travel

Snack bars in Japan have a long and intriguing history that dates back to the post-war era. These cozy and retro establishments are often hidden away on Tokyo’s bustling streets, making them a hidden gem for locals and tourists alike. Run by a woman affectionately known as “mama,” snack bars offer a unique nightlife experience filled with conversation, drinks, and nibbles.

Over the years, snack bars have evolved from their red-light district roots to become a popular destination for both men and women looking to unwind and socialize. With their intimate atmosphere and focus on conversation rather than sexual entertainment, snack bars have become a welcoming space for people to relax and connect with others.

One such snack bar, Kuriyakko, located in Tokyo’s Shimbashi business district, has been a favorite spot for regulars for over 25 years. Visitors can enjoy the warm ambiance, dim lighting, and friendly atmosphere as they sip on whiskey highballs and plum wine while chatting with “mama” Kuri Awaji.

For those interested in experiencing the unique charm of snack bars, guided tours are now available. Companies like Snack Yokocho offer tours that provide insight into the history and culture of these establishments. Tour guides teach participants how to order drinks in Japanese and encourage them to engage in conversation with the “mama.”

With the increasing popularity of snack bars among tourists, these hidden gems are gradually becoming more accessible to a wider audience. Whether you’re looking to unwind after a long day or simply connect with others in a cozy setting, a visit to a Japanese snack bar is sure to provide a memorable and authentic experience.

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