Bar Gats1/3
Sakestand2/3
Junmaishu Yata3/3
Photo: fb.com/junmaishu.yata.shibuya

Where to drink hot sake in Tokyo

Hot sake is a perfect antidote to the winter cold, and you can sip on some to warm up at these sake bars

By Time Out Tokyo Editors
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Although hot sake divides drinkers between those who swear by it and those who find it an abomination, it’s certainly a very merry way to warm up in the cold. Unknown to many, hot sake actually comes in temperatures ranging from lukewarm to scalding. Some of the most common include nurukan (40C), jokan (45C) and atsukan (50C). Here are our favourite places to warm up with a hot tipple.

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Kimijimaya Ebisu
Photo: Jessica Thompson

Kimijimaya Ebisu

Bars and pubs Ebisu

Tucked away on the 4th floor of Ebisu’s Atre building is this stylish, well-stocked kaku-uchi of Kimijimaya. Kaku-uchi are part-liquor stores, part-bars, meaning Kimijimaya has you covered whether you’re looking to buy high-quality sake and wine to take home or have a tipple in-store. The space is neat and well-organised, and the sake by the glass are reasonably priced from ¥300 to ¥1,000. There’s a daily changing menu of sake from breweries across Japan for you to try, as well as a small selection of snacks like miso-marinated cheese (¥300), pork and duck rillettes (¥500), etc...

Junmaishu Yata
Photo: junmaishu.net

Junmaishu Yata

Bars and pubs Shibuya

Located a few minutes’ walk from Shibuya Station, Yata may be a (sake) standing bar but it’s not one of the usual run-of-the-mill, rough-around-the-edges sort. It’s an elegant, modern space: the cool, polished concrete interior is accentuated with warm timber details, soft lighting and stylish glassware, set against a soundtrack of jazz music and presided over by friendly and knowledgeable staff. Yata is a welcoming space where even lone visitors will feel at ease...

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Bar Gats

Bars and pubs Shinsen

Run by the vocalist of a funky jazz band, Bar Gats is pretty much a hot sake institution. The eight-seater lends itself more to a simple night of appreciating the drink rather than a rowdy party. There’s no menu here, as the bartender will pick a selection for you, complete with perfectly paired otsumami (snacks). Note that speaking Japanese infinitely enhances the experience, as staff keep up a running commentary about the merits of hot sake in rapid-fire Japanese all night.

Kanagari

Restaurants Japanese Nishi-Shinjuku

For a more substantial meal with your drink, head to Kanagari, a robatayaki specialist in Shinjuku that has a good lineup of hot sake. Try to nab a counter seat, from where you’ll see the grill – and the sake-loving manager – in action. The nihonshu is heated, served in traditional aluminium pitchers, and handed to you on a massive paddle. Ask for recommendations for both food and booze, but whatever you do, make sure to have the marutama, a textbook example of a perfect whole roasted sweet onion.

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Sakestand Shibuya

Bars and pubs Shibuya

If you like DIY-ing your sake, the English-friendly Sakestand is for you. They have a changing selection of very well-priced nihonshu, which you can heat up in a tokkuri (flask) yourself if you so please. Small nibbles that go well with sake are on the menu as well, as are beer and wine if you really can't muster a glass of nihonshu...

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