"Pub The Swan" is an Irish themed standing bar located in downtown Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. The pub opened in May 2021 to replace the aging Sugawara Sakaten, a standing sake bar and tobacco dealer with a history dating back to 1895! The pub has the same friendly management and staff, but a fresh idea to attract new customers. While it would be hard to say this is a "must-visit" attraction, the location, staff, menu and atmosphere do make the pub an easy visit for both travelers and locals.
Pub The Swan (パブ ザ スワン) is located right across from Sendai's downtown Disney Store, a popular local meeting spot. With its large English sign, open windows, and first floor corner store front, it is impossible to miss while walking around the city's shopping arcades towards tree-lined Jozenji-dori Avenue. Like typical standing bars in Japan, there is no "otoshi" dish or entrance charge, so you can freely step right inside to view the menu. True to its theme, you'll be able to get your fill of Guinness and Kilkenny beers on tap, as well as fish & chips or shepherd's pie. Some whiskies are also available. In a delightful surprise, the pub also serves limited coffee, tea, and cakes.
One word of warning: smoking is allowed inside the cozy pub. The pub continues to sell cigarettes as a service to its patrons of many years. This is good news for smokers that are increasingly unable to find restaurants, bars, and cafes to smoke at in modern times. For non-smokers, you will be able to clearly see if there is anyone smoking through the large front windows before deciding to enter. Also, you can choose to drink/dine at the outside tables if you would like. The pub is well ventilated, so I did not notice any tobacco odor during my visit when no smokers were present.
Overall, the atmosphere is inviting and fun both in the afternoon and later evening (I am a regular). To start, friendly staff dressed in snazzy uniforms welcome each patron with a smile. The Irish theme means wood panels and counters accented with shiny brass. Some decorations are forced, like old time black-and-white reprint photos, while others like a collection of belt buckles and door knockers add some authentic personality. It is stylish without being too loud. Most customers are thirties to fifties, so don't expect wild nights or a pick-up bar. I felt relaxed, though that may have been the beer. This is a place to chill and destress, or pickup a conversation. It seems about 10 people can squeeze into the standing bar, and several others outside. If it isn't crowded, the staff will strike up a conversation with you in Japanese or limited English if you are the social type. Since this is not a "touristy" type of pub, almost all customers will be locals, most of which are Japanese people. So this is a great spot to interact with locals in a natural way.
Whether stopping by for a pint, or leisurely mixing with the locals round-after-round with food and snacks to fuel you, "Pub The Swan" is a neighborhood waterhole where you'll be sure to make both memories and friends.