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Kagurazaka: Tokyo’s Speakeasy Neighborhood


Ambient lighting at a speakeasy in Kagurazaka

World-renowned for their classic and craft cocktail culture, there are many outstanding speakeasies and bars in Tokyo. In fact, bartenders from cosmopolitan cities like New York and Sydney often look to Tokyo for guidance in their libation creation. If you like drinks, it’s definitely something you’ll want to explore while visiting Japan. To truly experience the old-time craft cocktail scene in the city you should head to Kagurazaka, where you’ll find a plethora of signless venues hidden down narrow alleyways. Many of them look like nothing, so you’ll need to do a bit of searching – which only makes it that much more special when you do find a great spot. The major thing that sets Tokyo’s speakeasies and underground bars apart from the rest of the world is the locals who know about them are serious about keeping their identities secret. In fact, my local guide Shinji made me promise not to disclose the location of the above photographed underground bar, which I’ll just call “Bar C” to give you a hint. While I can tell you the snacks are dried figs and apricot, the cocktails I cannot as this is the type of place where you tell the bartender a bit about your tastes and he crafts a perfect libation for your personality. Keep in mind, Tokyo is one of the most expensive cities in the world, so double-check how much the drinks are before you order a second (I learned this the hard way when my small-but-delicious cocktail came to $25).
Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

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