The ten varieties of sake served at Shibuya’s Sakestand on any given day are picked to match the season, making it fiendishly difficult not to come back again and again. The small, standing-only space isn’t exactly a palace, but the friendly and knowledgeable staff more than make up for this. And as you can have a taste of even the most refined nihonshu, served in wine glasses, for under ¥500, sake enthusiasts will have a field day. The equally reasonably priced appetisers include homemade liver pâté and oysters in oil, and the lack of a cover charge just puts the cherry on top.
You wouldn’t expect to find a bar specialising in fine wine and authentic Roman-style pizzas among the chaos of izakaya and discount clothing stores in Ueno’s Ameyoko, but 500 Bar is the best kind of surprise. You can get almost everything on the menu – 20 kinds of pizza, Italian appetisers, wine and cocktails – for a single coin (¥500), and unlike most other bars on this list, the place can also accommodate larger groups. Although there is a ¥350 cover charge, this buys you a small plate of three kinds of prosciutto with your first order.
Giving 300Bar a run for its money in Ginza is 333, a DJ bar where you can buy most drinks for – yep – ¥333. The catch is that men need to buy at least three ¥333 tickets when entering, while women are only required to pick up two. The tickets can then be exchanged for any of the 150 beer, wine and cocktail options. There’s nowhere to sit down but fear not, the stylish space and excellent sound system are worthy of the posh location, and local DJs play the booth almost every night. If you’re looking to make new friends in an international atmosphere without paying through the nose for the experience, 333 fits the bill.
There are no seats at what must be the cheapest bar in flashy Ginza, but don’t let that stop you getting stuck in. All food and drinks, including the cocktails made with homegrown organic herbs, go for ¥300 (tax excluded). We're big fans of the mojitos – officially approved by the Cuban embassy no less – but make sure to try the 150-strong list of drinks.
This place fills up at the weekend, when DJs spin tunes and the occasional band plays a gig. No worries if the bar gets too full: there are two nearby bars (Ginza-Gochome and Hatchome) run by the same group, who has been a Ginza staple for 25 years. You'll be glad to know that your 300Bar drink and food tickets are valid at all three outlets.
Pick from five reds and five whites – or work your way through all ten – at the friendly Risaburou, a standing-only wine bar and bistro where everything on the menu goes for ¥500. Close to Tokyo Skytree, this joint is an offshoot of the popular Endo Risaburou Shoten, one of the best wine bars east of the Sumida River, and deals in slightly altered versions of the original’s superb pâté and ajillo. Rest assured, all tipples are tip-top, and get this – the counter corners are even cushioned for cosier leaning. So wear comfy shoes and luxuriate in an evening of good food and good company.
A favourite among Shibuya’s busy office workers, this rough-and-ready standing bar serves everything at breakneck speed – from Guinness to fruity cocktails. All drinks and most of the 20-plus appetisers, including shrimp in chili sauce and fish and chips, cost between ¥300 and ¥500. There’s almost always a crowd here, but it’s most popular during sports matches, when thirsty patrons rub shoulders around the TVs scattered throughout the space. Located a stone’s throw from Shibuya’s scramble crossing, it’s also a convenient place at which to meet up and plan an evening in the capital’s buzziest neighbourhood.
More great Tokyo bars
Whether you're into techno, house or jazz, there are plenty of DJ bars and event spaces to get a drink and maybe dance a little in Shibuya – every day of the week
There's more to Tokyo's bar scene than the serious, formal bars of Ginza. Talk, laugh and just be yourself at these lively and cool bars
Whether you fancy a classic drink or the kind of creative concoction you’d only ever find in Tokyo, these cocktail bars are the best in the city