Masamichi, the Osaka establishment on page 99 of the guide, is undergoing a refit and is not currently open. I don’t yet know when it will reopen, but will give full details when it does.
Unfortunately, the Osakaya shop in Shinjuku on page 243 was closed on January 16, 2011. Please accept my apologies if you have wasted your time going there. The book was already at the printers on January 16. I will try to keep people updated on any new openings for Osakaya, which does appear to still have its website online.
The Great East Japan Earthquake hit just as my book was about to be published, and I became very worried about the fate of the lovely people at Isshin in Sendai, a superb sake bar featured in the sake chapter. Sendai was hit by the full force of the earthquake and parts of the city were devastated by the subsequent tsunami.
Last week, I got a letter from Sumiko Yanagisawa, who runs the bar with her husband Koki. They are going through a terrible time right now, but all the staff are OK. Here is a translation of some of the letter:
“Both our bar and the houses of our staff are located in the middle of Sendai city, safe from tsunami damage. Although the earthquake shook our place greatly, the bar itself was not damaged except for a few broken bottles and cracked glasses. We had a battery operated television and during the power cut I watched the TV news. There it was: a horrendous scene of familiar land being swallowed by a massive wave. (I just kept asking questions). How about Nihon Shuzo? What about the fishermen? What about the farmers? I was so worried for their safety.
I have never experienced such terror.
The situation itself is very unstable — the fear of radiation from the nuclear power plant, magnitude 5 level aftershocks etc. — but Isshin is OK.
I have heard Nihon Shuzo took quite a bit of damage but somehow have managed to send out their sake. … Koki (Sumiko’s husband) is currently in an affected area with his car full of things to deliver to people.”
If you ever do find yourself in Sendai, you really have to try to get to Isshin. It is a wonderful place. (B1F Jozenji Hills, 3-3-1 Kokubuncho, Aoba-ku, Sendai; Tel: 022-261-9888). Map.
Nakano Bozu Bar, featured on page 233 of the guide, is helping to organize an event in support of Japan earthquake relief on Saturday, April 9, 2011.
The “Dai Houyou” (Great Commemoration) will be held at Live&Pub Moon Step (not the Bozu Bar) at Nakano, Nakano-ku, Chuo 5-39-16 (Tel: 03-3380-7739). Tickets cost 3,500 yen and 4,000 on the door. Musicians performing at the event include Chihana, Bud Ricks, Boogie The Mahamotors, and Goro Nakagawa.
I took pains to make sure all of the information in “Drinking Japan” is up to date, but few things are in such a constant state of flux as the Japanese drinking scene.
By the end of my research, I discovered that some of the bars in this book that I had visited at the start of my travels had already closed or changed radically! I was able to remove those from my recommendations, but it is just a fact of Japanese drinking life that some of the establishments in the guide will close or move.
First, I would like to apologize if a bar has moved or closed, or if your experience doesn’t measure up to mine.
Second, please contact me at christopherbunting at gmail.com. I will try to post updates here when I have confirmed important changes. On a slightly happier note, if you find an excellent bar not included here, please send details.