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Only a decade ago, the world of Japanese bartending was an almost exclusively male domain. But times have changed – for the better, most would argue – and finding a woman mixing drinks behind a Tokyo counter is no longer a rarity. Not only that, the emergence of the fairer sex has truly taken the bar industry by storm, with Japan’s female professionals bringing home prize after prize at international cocktail competitions in recent years.
As one of the capital’s renowned master bartenders laughingly puts it: ‘These women have both grit and charm. Maybe the time of men is over altogether.’ But that’s not to say Tokyo’s bar beauties have it easy: here, we shine the spotlight on ten determined ladies mixing up classic cocktails, and chat to them about the joys, hardships and endless allure of the profession. Read on for where to meet the transcendent ten, or take a moment for yourself at one of the best Tokyo bars for drinking alone.
Photos by Kisa Toyoshima and Keisuke Tanigawa. Translated by Ili Saarinen