Fujiya in Shibuya

“Tachinomiya,” literally standand- drink establishments, have been a culinary fixture all over Japan for two centuries. As the name implies, there are no chairs; customers drink alcohol while standing. They stay for less than an hour. Commuters grab a quick drink with a side dish or two on their way home from work. These places would be considered, in modern lexicon, the Third Place — not your home, not your workplace, but a third place where you can relax and find community.

The most popular dish is sliced ham on cabbage. They are all simple dishes, but they’re homemade.

As for alcohol, the customer favorite is called Hoppy, a malt-based carbonated drink that contains less than 1% alcohol but tastes just like beer. Customers pay when the orders arrive. Leaving cash on the counter ahead of time is considered proper etiquette.

Sadly, Fujiya shutterred in October 2018. New development in Shibuya is driving out the tenants, and the building that housed Fujiya is scheduled for demolition.

Author profile

Yasushi Kurita was born in Tokyo. He has spent the last 30 years as a writer for print publications and TV. When he was in college, he spent two years in New York. His favorite band is the Atlanta Rhythm Section, making him one of about 15 Japanese people who actually like that band.