Do you know what a “snack bar” is?
Unlike bars and pubs, “snacks” are a unique way to enjoy drinks in Japan, and there are countless of them in Hakodate.
In this issue, we introduce how David from France and Jack from the U.S., who both live in Hakodate, along with their interpreter guide Sarah, enjoyed a local and deep “snack” tour that cannot be found in guidebooks.

Honcho, near Goryokaku Park, is one of Hakodate’s most popular entertainment districts, lined with bars and nightclubs. David and Jack are guided by Sarah to the first restaurant on the second floor of a building containing bars and nightclubs.

When they enter the restaurant and take their seats, the hostess sits down next to David and Jack and deftly makes the highballs that they have ordered.
While the drinks are being made, the two are given a lecture by Sarah on how to enjoy the snacks and their manners.

・Most of the restaurants divide the time by about one hour.
・A charge (seat charge) and bottle/drink fee are required. However, “house bottles” of shochu, whiskey, and soda are included in the charge fee, so you can drink as much as you want.
・Customers pay for the drinks of hostesses who serve them.
・Be considerate of your surroundings and regular customers.
・Touching the hostess’s body is not allowed.

The hostess calls out “Cheers” and the guests begin to drink.

The two enjoyed conversing with the manager and hostess, known as “Mama,” about their respective countries of origin.

After paying, head to the next store.

The second restaurant is located in the same building as the first snack bar we stopped at.
It has a distinctive black interior and is the most spacious of the restaurants we visited.

With drinks in hand, the two enjoyed mingling with the local customers with whom they had hit it off. Unexpected encounters are one of the charms of a snack bar.

The last snack bar we visited on this tour was a small, relaxed atmosphere at the end of a narrow alleyway from the street.

By the third restaurant, they both seemed to have gotten used to it, and after a few drinks and a good mood, David enjoyed the “karaoke” machine, which allowed him to sing songs, and had a lot of fun with the local customers.

After the snack tour, David said, “I enjoyed the different atmospheres of the stores, although from the outside I could not tell what kind of atmosphere the stores had inside because of the small doors only. It was very beneficial and safe to sing English songs and talk to different people. It was a very enjoyable evening.” He said.

Jack said, “Unlike the drinking establishments and bars in the U.S. where we enjoy ourselves and our own group, snack bars offer the culture and opportunity to meet strangers and new people.” He said.

Their first snack experience was a lot of fun.