Over a century of tradition right in the middle of Tokyo!

There is one particular kind of restaurant in Japan that is really unique to the country: the izakaya bar. The word “izakaya” means “a place where you can stay and drink,” but in most cases it’s not like a bar or pub whose focus is almost entirely on alcohol. Izakaya have that, too, of course, even offering all-you-can-drink menus, but they also serve a wide array of delicious food to accompany the alcohol, such as this “devil’s” sushi roll.

Izakaya in Japan have an old history, and we recently found one that claims to be the oldest one in Japan. Supposedly founded in 1905, although there is some dispute about the exact year, Tokyo’s Mimasuya has been in business for more than 110 years, and our Japanese-language reporter K. Masami went to check it out.

Just an eight-minute walk from Kanda Station, or a three-minute walk from Awajicho Station, Mimasuya is in a pretty convenient location. The exterior of the shop has a very old, nostalgic feel to it. The original building that stood in this spot was destroyed in a fire after the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, and so the current facade was rebuilt a little less than 100 years ago. The red lantern in the front, however, still gives it a very Edo Period look.

Masami arrived at around five o’clock, but when she pushed past the noren curtain, she was surprised to see that the bar was already packed. There were men and women from all ages, from college students to salarymen, drinking and laughing together, so the atmosphere was very inviting.

The menu was enormous, but Masami had enough room in her stomach to try the boiled loach fish (700 yen [US$6.30]), meat and tofu (500 yen), and a couple other things. Everything she ordered was a hit, and in her opinion, this is, without a doubt, a classic Japanese izakaya.

▼ Meat and tofu

Later on, after doing some more research, Masami found out that there is apparently an izakaya that partially dates all the way back to the Kamakura Period (which started in 1192), so Mimasuya may not actually be the oldest izakaya in Japan. But perhaps because Mimasuya carries on that tradition from olden times, many people hold it in their hearts as the oldest izakaya, anyway.

▼ Of course, you can drink to your heart’s content there, too.

In any case, the nostalgic look of the shop coupled with its modern atmosphere makes Mimasuya an izakaya that maintains tradition while evolving with the times. The restaurant even employs foreign workers, which is a testament to its modernity. Though it’s got a long history, it isn’t holding on too tightly to the old ways, and that makes it a really special place.

Restaurant information
Mimasuya / みますや
Tokyo-to Chiyoda-ku Kanda-Tsukasamachi 2-15-2
Open 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. (last order 22:20)
Closed on Sundays, Holidays

Photos © SoraNews24
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