The Vibrancy In Small Bars: Japan’s Izakayas

Small bar located in the back alleys of Osaka’s Dotonburi district.

 

Travel & Documentary Photographer Lee Starnes is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography.  These images are from his project ‘Izakayas Of Japan‘. To see Lee’s photographs click on any image.

 

Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

 

Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

 

Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

 

Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

 

“I always liked side-paths, little dark back-alleys behind the main road,” Dostoyevsky writes in his 1879 novel, The Brothers Karamazov. “There one finds adventures and surprises, and precious metal in the dirt.”

Though it’s a pretty far cry from 19th-century Russia, the narrow back alleys of Japan are evidence that Dostoyevsky’s musings hold a universal truth. Clear on the other side of the world, the Land of the Rising Sun boasts an entire network of small, local businesses built around this idea of serendipitous experiences and tiny, unexpected places.

Down the side streets and back alleys of Japan, the culture of izakayas – small, intimate watering holes, often helmed by a single barkeep – is alive and well.

 

The Pontoncho area of Kyoto. Famous for Geishas and littered with traditional tea houses, small bars and izakayas

 

The Pontoncho area of Kyoto. Famous for Geishas and littered with traditional tea houses, small bars and izakayas

 

Omoide Yokocho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

 

Tokyo’s Golden Gai district of Shinjuku is full of small bars dating back to the early 20th Century.

 

Tokyo’s Nonbei Yokocho or “Drunkard’s Alley”

 

See also:

Portraits

By Lee Starnes

 


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