Tokyo's drinking scene appears to be tip-toeing around the idea of a proper subscription-based bar.
When I say "proper subscription-based bar," I'm not talking about things Tokyo already has:
- Subscription apps that get you your first drink for free every night. Those already exist. How many people really just have one drink, then leave?
- Bars that offer member discounts for drinks by paying monthly membership dues. Those also exist, but you're still paying per-drink.
- Bottle keep, since that kind of system is basically everywhere in Japan.
- Kits being mailed to you once a month. While I don't think they exist in Japan, it would be an uphill battle against RTDs and convenience stores.
- Izakaya chains that offer 30, 60, 90, or 180 day passports that get you free 120-minute nomihodai sessions. But it's certainly a step in the right direction.
I mean a bar with truly no limits: pay a fixed monthly charge, go as much as you want, then drink as much as you want.
Sound like it could land the bar in legal trouble? This is Japan!
Sound like nobody actually drinks that much? "The Public Stand" is a new chain of bars that offers a 30-day passport to women for 3000 yen, allowing them to go as much as they want to any location, and drink with no time limits. For guys the same time-limitless nomihodai costs that much per night. So yes, people do want to drink that much.
Kitakyushu has beaten Tokyo to the offering. "Ochaya" charges 18,000 yen per month for men for unlimited usage--women are completely free--8PM to 2AM Monday through Saturday. Bring up to two guests for free. There's even a fingerprint reader at the door. They've been open for six months, and membership continues to increase.
When is Tokyo going to rise to the challenge?
Whiskey Richard is the founder of nomunication.jp, and has been saying he has lived in Japan for ten years for the past four years. He enjoys drinking basically anything except straight-up Campari.