Friday night means going out for a drink with your buddies from the office or your favorite classmates. It also means a large chunk of cash is missing from you wallet when you wake up with a pounding headache on Saturday morning. As much fun as a night on the town is, it’s often ridiculously expensive–especially in Tokyo! And it doesn’t help things that bars and restaurants love to mark up their drinks by…well, a lot. If only you could get your booze and snacks at cost.

Well guess what, thirsty and hungry readers? You can at the Genka Bar! At least, that’s what they claim. We sent one of our Japanese writers to find out the truth. Check out the results below.


As anyone who’s ever seen a wholesaler’s catalog before will tell you, markup is brutal, especially in the food industry. We’ve often idly dreamed of buying all of our food directly from wholesalers, but where the hell would we put a few crates of olives in our apartments?

The Genka Bar, with three locations in Tokyo in Gotanda, Akasaka, and Ginza, seems to be the solution to our woes! Genka, written 原価 in Japanese, means “at cost,” and refers to the amount paid for a product. For example, when you buy a drink of Jack Daniels at the bar, you might pay between 500 and 800 yen, but how much did the bar actually pay for that delicious, amazing bourbon? Well, if a bottle of Jack Daniels holds 700 ml of perfection and a typical drink has one shot of about 44 ml in it, then you can get 15 drinks from one bottle of Jack. A bottle of that Tennessee goodness can be bought for about 1,600 yen in Japan (around US$16) at retail, so it would probably be even cheaper wholesale, but even so one drink would only cost about 106 yen (probably about one dollar) – far, far less than what you actually pay in a bar.

▼It’s like they read our minds!


Jeez, it’s almost enough to make you just stay home and watch TV on a Saturday night. Almost.

Fortunately, the Genka Bar lives up to its name, and offers all of its food and drinks at cost. And since they’re buying everything at wholesale prices, you’ll only need 90 yen (87 cents) to get a nice, stiff drink of Jack!

But there are a lot of costs involved in running a bar–how on earth do they expect to pay for rent, utilities, and their wait staff if they’re not making any money on the drinks?

▼Especially when they only charge 10 yen for Black Nikka Highball between 5 pm and 7 pm.


Here’s what our Japanese writer, Kon Inoue, discovered: They don’t. Wait, what?

Walking up to the door with a 1,000 yen bill firmly in hand, Inoue was looking to see how little she could spend and still get her belly warm and full. But she encountered a problem before even getting in the door: Apparentely, there’s a 1,500 yen (about $15) entrance fee. Fortunately, she had the cash on hand, but let this be a lesson to you: Don’t forget about entrance fees!

However, once she was inside, Inoue found out that everything was as advertised, getting two food dishes for a total of 440 yen (around $4.40). That’s less than most places charge for a single drink! And, speaking of drinks, how did our writer fare on that front? Well, she was able get through five drinks, including wine, a Black Nikka highball, and three cocktails for a total cost of…420 yen (about $4.20)!


That’s right, for less than 1,000 yen ($10), Inoue was able to drink and eat her heart out. Well, 2,500 yen if you include the entrance fee. But even with the 1,500 yen fee at the Gotanda and Akasaka locations and the 2,500 yen (about $25) fee at the Ginza location, the final price is what can only be described as insanely reasonable.

Nobuo Yokoyama, the owner of the bar, gives a little insight into the concept of his establishment on their website. “The ‘Genka Bar’ is not what you would call a super-cheap bar,” he writes. Instead, the vision that Yokoyama has for his chain is that of a place where people can go to enjoy drinking without any worries. If there’s some high-class alcohol you’ve always wanted to try, the Genka Bar is the place to do it, since you’ll be able to get it for exactly what it costs.

▼And now we know why our reporter saw so many other women at the bar.

nobuImage from Genka Bar

And it’s important to note that they’re not just serving cheap drinks–their menu reveals a host of beers, cocktails, whiskeys, spirits, and wines from around the world. You can even get some Budweiser if you feel like torturing your tastebuds.

So, if you’re looking for a place to try out some new drinks–or just really thirsty, be sure to check out the Genka Bar!

Bar info

Genka Bar Gotanda Location: 2F/3F Nodzu Building, 2-5-8 Nishigotanda, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 5 pm to 5 am (Friday/Saturday), 5 pm to 1 am (Sunday through Thursday)
Phone number: 03-6417-9909

Genka Bar Akasaka
Location: B1F ASK Akasaka Building, Akasaka 3-21-17, Minato-ku, TokyoHours: 5 pm to 5 am (Wednesday through Saturday), 5 pm to 11 pm (Sunday through Tuesday and holidays)
Phone number: 03-6441-2574

Genka Bar Ginza
Location: 2F Dai 26 Pole Star Building, 7-2-14 Ginza, Chuuou-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 6 pm to 5 am (Monday through Saturday), closed Sundays and holidays
Phone number: 03-6280-6314

Images by RocketNews24/YouPouch unless otherwise stated
[ Read in Japanese ]