1. The counter at Bar S
    Photo: Nacasa & Partners Inc.The counter at Bar S
  2. Mod
    Photo: Keisuke TanigawaMod

5 best Ginza bars that won’t break the bank

No need to save up for a night out – these affordable Ginza bars serve cocktails, beer, wine and food for under ¥1,000

Kit Kriewaldt
Written by
Kit Kriewaldt
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If Tokyo is a temple to bars (and let’s be honest, it is) then Ginza would be the inner sanctum. The city’s most luxurious shopping district is full of quiet, hidden cocktail spots run by world-renowned bartenders who speak in hushed tones while serving up visually stunning drinks – with prices to match.

Ginza’s lavish bars have their place, but sometimes you just want a good drink without worrying about emptying your wallet. You might not know it, but Ginza is also home to a range of small, more budget-conscious bars that don’t skimp on quality. Here are some of our favourite local hangouts, offering draught beer, whisky highballs, lemon sours, bar snacks and more for under ¥1,000.

Ginza on a shoestring

  • Bars and pubs
  • Izakaya
  • Ginza

Marugin is an old-school izakaya underneath the JR line tracks between Ginza and Shinbashi. Ordinarily, pubs under train tracks are a pokey affair, but Marugin is surprisingly spacious. And it needs to be – the bar gets busy after 7pm, so we recommend going shortly after it opens at 5pm. Although Marugin calls itself a standing bar, there are plenty of tables to sit at, or you can gather around the central bar and watch the staff grill the house speciality: yakitori chicken skewers (from ¥143 per skewer).

If you’re looking for whisky highballs, you’ve come to the right place. There’s an array of fancier highballs on offer (all from ¥438), but the signature Marugin Highball is the most popular, featuring yuzu, honey, ginger and whisky. It’s tart, refreshing and dangerously easy to drink. Lemon sours – and sours using other types of citrus – are also available for ¥548 each, while beer on tap starts at ¥614 per glass. Whether you’re stopping by for a quick drink or spending an evening here, Marugin is one of Ginza’s best affordable izakaya.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Pubs
  • Ginza

This thin strip of a beer bar in the middle of Ginza is aptly named – the entire space is roughly the width of an alleyway. There are two doors, one at the front for entry and one at the side for exit, so all the patrons don’t have to file out every time one person wants to leave. The cosy setup automatically creates a convivial atmosphere, and you’ll find your fellow drinkers only get friendlier after a few pints.

There are just two beers on the menu: Asahi Super Dry (from ¥800) and Pilsner Urquell (from ¥940), but you might still find yourself spoilt for choice. The focus here is the way the beer is poured, with three options available for each beer. The different pours are supposedly based on traditional serves from the Czech Republic (home of Pilsner Urquell), other parts of Europe and of course, Japan.

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  • Restaurants
  • Ginza

To find this budget-friendly standing-only bar, walk down Corridor-dori Street between Shinbashi and Ginza stations. When you see the '300' sign opposite the train tracks, descend the stairs into the basement and get ready to mingle with local salarymen, restaurant workers, lawyers and anyone else in Ginza looking for a drink.

As the name implies, everything at 300 Bar costs just ¥300 (¥330 including tax), including the cocktails, beer, wine and food. You might be expecting some catch, like a tiny menu or watered-down drinks, but one glance at the comically long cocktail list above the bar should put any fears to rest – everything here is the real deal. Crowd-pleasing party drinks are a speciality (think mojitos, margaritas and daiquiris), but there’s something for everyone. The food is classic pub grub, including tacos, nachos, fries and pizza.

300 Bar 8-chome is temporarily closed, but will reopen in December 2021.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Ginza

Sure, the bars are small in Ginza, but few are smaller than Mod. It describes itself as a ‘walk-in bar’ and that’s about all you can do here. Once you walk into this true hole-in-the-wall near the swanky Muji Hotel, you’re the only thing between the bar counter and the door. There’s space for just six drinkers, but in good weather, Mod’s dedicated patrons huddle around a couple of outdoor tables, too. For workers in the area, Mod is something of a Ginza institution. So on most nights, you’ll find a crowd of older salarymen stopping by to chat to the lone bartender over an after-work drink.

The space may be small, but the selection is surprisingly large, with a focus on whisky. The bar is cash-only and a glass of whisky or draught beer starts at ¥800, with wine and other spirits at ¥900. Classic cocktails are on offer, too, from ¥1,100. Of course, not all the beautiful bottles staring at you from the back bar are a bargain, so be sure to check the price before you order that glass of limited edition Yamazaki.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Ginza

You don’t have to skimp on the Ginza glamour just because you’re drinking on a budget. Most of the time, the Shiseido Building’s 11th-floor Bar S is the kind of swanky cocktail spot you would save for payday. But during the bar’s extensive happy hour from 3pm to 7pm daily, there’s a special menu of beer, wine (including champagne), spirits and cocktails for ¥1,000, plus bar snacks for only ¥800 each.

It’s a great opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of a chic Ginza bar, and all without worrying about your bank account. Even better, the bar waives its regular entry fee (¥1,000 per person) during happy hour, too. Just be sure to sit around the counter and not in the lounge near the fireplace – those soft sofas still have the seating charge.

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