Is the oft visited Bar Piano in Tokyo’s Shibuya district worth the the trip? I think so… I am sure if you have done any research on “cool” things to do in Tokyo, you have seen Bar Piano mentioned at least once. Featured in Anthony Bourdain’s TV show, Bar Piano is a teeny tiny little bar nestled in the high-rise urban landscape of Shibuya. Under the train tracks lives an area called Nonbeiyokocho, or Drunkard’s Alley (1-25-10 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku) and here lives Bar Piano.
In this alley, there is a cluster of tiny, quirky, atmospheric bars fitting only 5-10 people. Piano Bar is one of the better known bars with its door belying the owner’s inspiration by German castles. With no formal address, but behind a rather obvious intricate wooden door, you will find Bar Piano – called Bar Piano because the downstairs bar is fashioned from an antique upright piano. On your right, a staircase leads to a plush velvet encased interior, studded with chandeliers, bizarre portraits, intricate candle sconces, ornate chairs and mounted animal heads scattered about.
Drinks are served in antique glasses and goblets each one costing around 1,000yen. But there’s only space for about 8 people at the bar at any given time – about 3 people on the ground floor and maybe 5 people upstairs. But sit upstairs if you can, as this is where you will be able to absorb the full impact of Bar Piano’s lush ostentatiousness.
Try one of the fresh fruit cocktails and take it all in. Just when you think you have found the most surreal or bizarre detail of the decor, your eye will find yet another one.
And, by the way, as it’s so teeny tiny, it’s really only suitable for very small groups, so don’t traipse in with 5-6 people and expect to find a seat. Reservations are recommended if you are able to plan ahead.
Nonbeiyokocho (also known as Drunkard’s Alley)
1-25-10 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku
Open: 8pm – 3am, daily