Orihara Shoten is a quaint, bustling standing sake bar tucked in a serene neighbourhood in the southeastern part of the sprawling Tokyo metropolis.
There are many fine ways to drink sake in Japan. From rowdy street-side izakayas and refined restaurants to brewery tasting rooms, sake lovers can be spoilt for choice when appreciating Japan’s national alcoholic beverage.
But one of the most fun ways to drink sake, particularly in bigger cities like Tokyo and Osaka, is at a standing bar. These are casual drink stands offering a variety of tipples that can range from craft beers and highballs to, yes, sake.
And that’s exactly what Orihara Shoten is, one that’s focused on sake. If that name sounds familiar, there’s also an Orihara Shoten in Singapore (located in Robertson Walk) which is actually an offshoot of this standing sake bar.
But the original Orihara Shoten, located in Toko City in the southeastern part of Tokyo, is a sake bar of a more rustic kind compared to its Singapore sibling. Sequestered within an old-school, alley-side traditional Japanese shophouse, it’s literally home to just two communal tables surrounded by shelves and fridges chockfull of bottles of sake. There are a few small tables outside the shop for you to lounge around as well, but that’s really it.
But when it comes to actually sampling a wide variety of sake, Orihara Shoten is hard to beat. There’s easily over a hundred sakes – from producers all over Japan – to choose from that you can purchase by the glass. Each is available in a smaller sample glass, and a larger one in case you want to reorder a sake you really, really like. Not proficient in Japanese? To make things easier, Orihara offers a daily specials board that lists out a range of sake for you to pick from. Just point, and the friendly staff will assist you.
And when you’ve sated yourself on sake, Orihara also carries other alcoholic drinks. Fancy a plum wine? Yuzu liqueur? They have those. We even spotted a range of independently bottled Japanese whiskies that you can sample from in a similar manner.
As for food, there’s oden if you’re feeling peckish, or a number of sake-friendly otsumami (tidbits) you can enjoy with your sake.
If you’re a sake lover who’s never been to a standing sake bar like Orihara Shoten in Tokyo, you’re missing out.
[Photos by Joel Lim Photography]
Orihara Shoten Tokyo
Address Japan, 〒135-0047 Tokyo, Koto City, Tomioka, 1 Chome−13−11 折原門仲ビル １F (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12pm to 10pm Mondays to Fridays; 11am to 10pm on Saturdays and Sundays
Tel (81) 3-5639-9447