A new trend in drinking establishment is catering to Tokyo’s “drink and run” commuter culture. Standing Bars have started popping up near subway and train stations throughout the city. With no tables or chairs to get in the way, commuters are free to stand and drink, then move quickly to their next destination.
Given the difficulty in finding a seat on Tokyo’s subways I assume that the target audience for these bars has been conditioned to stand through just about anything.
Women in particular seem to be attracted to the standing bar. Female patrons have noted that the setting frees them to move around more easily, thus avoiding the risk of being stuck sitting next to someone they don’t care to be around. It’s also harder for strangers to tell if a women is alone or with friends.
Naturally, the new drinking format has prompted a new drinking fad – cup sake. The single serve sake bottles come with glass cups that have started to turn into something of a collectible. Buschi in Shibuya offers 20 different types of cup sake. The new popularity of cup sake marks something of a comeback for a drink that was previously thought to be more appropriate for working class middle-aged men. Now it seems the young hipsters can’t get enough of the stuff.
It will be interesting to see how this trend evolves. A few standing bars have actually moved into subway stations. The next logical step would be for Japan Rail to hire cocktail waitresses and begin serving drinks on the train during rush hour.