Doesn't it look like a kimono would suit this atmosphere? (Photo: Katsuyuki Tanaka)

Stumbling Upon a Japanese Shot Bar

It looked like a normal residence, except for a sign...

Doesn't it look like a kimono would suit this atmosphere? (Photo: Katsuyuki Tanaka)
Sarah Chaney   - 3 min read

If you get off the subway in Kyoto at Shijo Station exit 4 and you go west on Ayanokoji Dori (綾小路), you will see a small 4-story building on the left hand side just before Shinmachi Dori (新町通). It is the second corner, if you hit a light you went one block too far.

The first floor is a Japanese fabric shop, and on the right side is a small entrance with a sign that says "Toremolo" that leads to the second floor. Slippers line the entranceway and a traditional Japanese curtain hung across the doorway, partially obstructing the view of a steep staircase behind it. I took off my shoes, put it on the shoe shelf and parted the curtains to the stairs.

Inside, there was a bar counter that could seat six people, a table for 4 people and a large sofa that could seat 5 people. Casual furniture, like a Japanese style cabinet gave the place a pleasant, friendly atmosphere.

In front of the counter was a record player and lots of records that customers are probably allowed to play to suit their fancy. With a Japanese dresser, miniature figurines of a traditional Japanese shrine and the famous dog, Nipper, the whole bar had a modern Japanese vibe.

The food menu which consisted of mostly side dishes and drinks that were mostly centered around single shots, would probably end up costing customers somewhere around ¥3,000 to ¥4,000 per person. You can of course sip on a Harper Soda, enjoy Bacardi with mint water or Hakushu Whisky on the rocks.

This quaint shot bar is not in the middle of a bustling shopping district, but rather an area that sees a lot of lunchtime visitors or those looking for wholesale Japanese fabrics. The place itself is modest and really emphasizes and prioritizes its customers tastes and preferences. Moreover its Japanese flair surprisingly goes well together and suits the whole vibe of the shot bar.

The name Toremolo (wavering sound) refers to lyrics from Masao Koga's "Kage o Shitaite" (yearning for a shadow). It goes, "How long will the rain last? Autumn's wavering sound is lonely. I am lonely.", which is where the name came from. The song choice surprisingly does not reflect the musical generation from which the bar owner grew up in, but it is definitely an interesting story if you ask him about it.

If you drink too much, the staircase can be pretty dangerous, so please be careful on your way home!

Sarah Chaney

Sarah Chaney @sarah.chaney

Greetings! I am currently sailing through my second year living in Fukushima. In the four years I've lived in Japan, I have realized that Fukushima is Japan's best kept secret. With, I look forward to helping people be able to learn more about Fukushima and also assist with transl...