(Avg. cost per person)
|1000 - 2000 Yen.|
|Opening Hours||6pm - 3 am Daily
6pm - 12 am Sunday
|Notes||A small bar that is very popular. Can be full seating often.|
|Location||7 Chome Minami 2 Jōnishi, Chūō-ku, Sapporo-shi, Hokkaidō 060-0062, Japan
Although perhaps most famous for its auto and electronics exports, there are of course other markets in which Japan participates globally. Booze is one of them, and the name Sapporo is synonymous with beer, which you can read about here. A sister city with Munich, Sapporo holds an annual beer garden where revelers consume countless liters of light pilsner style lagers. In convenience stores, hotel lobbies and pretty much any restaurant you swing into, you will no doubt be offered the choice of a beer. With sales eclipsing those of traditional Japanese spirits, it is the favored social lubricant of the masses.
Sapporo is a beer lover’s city and has several downtown bars that specialize in the getting the good stuff. I’m talking proper brown and red ales, skull-splitting stouts and aphotic porters. Thirsting for an IPA potent enough to have you buzzing by the bottom of the glass? You’re in luck. You can find all of these and more at Kalahana. Located in the 7th block of Tanuki Koji (狸小路7丁目), this funky little bar is a mainstay in the covered Susukino arcade.
The round table in front of the store is a great place to people watch when the temps permit. Inside you’ll find a cozy, wooden-floored bar, with all the trappings of a legitimate local watering hole. There’s seating for 22, although one or two more can squeeze in with a bit of shuffling. Edibles are listed on the large blackboard on the back wall, all of it simple, well-executed pub fare. Beers are in constant rotation and one week’s specialty might be the following week’s fond memory. The atmosphere is perpetually jolly in Kalahana, and it’s easy to become a fixture for the night. The staff is happy to talk beer, or whatever banter your greased gears crank out. It doesn’t take long before things get chummy and cross-table conversation becomes inevitable.
On a recent Friday night, my wingman and I were fortunate enough to grab an open table in the back. He started with a Belgian Wit bier, while I went to the opposite end of the spectrum with a 9% orange chocolate porter. So as not to drown ourselves early in the night, we ordered assorted cheeses and pâté to line our stomachs. Thirty minutes later we were into our second round of drinks, both of us opting for a full glass of Oregon IPA. The owners of the bar are a salt-of-the-earth hippie couple with impeccable taste in funk and jazz music. Couple this with good food and drink and you’re bound to leave satisfied.
I’d be remiss not to point out that Japan’s version of a pint and a real pint (American or UK) are two different things, something to keep in mind if you’re drinking on a budget. The craft beer movement isn’t new in Japan, but it’s slow to gain the same traction as it has in the United States. High national taxes on malt are to blame, making beer drinking prohibitively expensive for some. Many younger patrons feel 1,200 yen is better spent on an all-the-mass-produced-beer-you-can-drink-in-2 hours option than a single glass of import beer. Still, there comes a time when plebeian swill just won’t cut it. In such a case, stroll on down to Kalahana for a glass of righteousness.