Japan has several different types of drinking establishments that include traditional bars and izakaya (Japanese-style pubs), but one of the most uniquely Japanese types is called a "snack". At snack bars, aside from enjoying a variety of types of alcohol, patrons can test their karaoke skills in an open setting, as well as banter with bartenders and owners who act and feel less like staff and more like fellow customers. At Snack Bar "Kuma-chan" in Tokyo, the same offerings are on the table, but with a little twist.

Located in what would otherwise be a nondescript basement floor of a building in Tokyo, you can't really tell what's going on inside Kuma-chan from the outside.

Once you open the door, however, you'll be greeted by one of the friendliest and most popular faces in Japan!

In fact, the beloved mascot is found all around the bar.

If you're not sure who that is, it's Kumamon, the designated mascot of Kumamoto prefecture who has become one of the country's most popular characters. Kuma-chan (Tama-chan, as it is usually called) is actually owned by comedian Tamabukuro Sugitarou, and making use of its name, is running a temporary collaboration with Kumamoto prefecture to stylize the bar with a Kumamoto aesthetic.

The snack bar offers a weekly "Kuma-kin" night, and when we visited, Kumamoto comedians Silky Line and singer Oiiruburo Mai were in attendance, complementing a staff that greets customers with cheerful welcome and a comforting drink. For customers who may not have had a chance to take in snack bar culture before, the night offers the experience of "Tokyo" deep spots with a friendly Kumamoto atmosphere, as well as fun events such as karaoke contests.

All in all, it makes for a welcoming atmosphere that can satisfy both newcomers and snack bar veterans, and a unique opportunity to get a taste of Kumamoto in Tokyo.

Snack Tamachan

Limited edition event: Snack Kumachan

1/17-2/12, 2018

Karaoke and all you can drink: Men, 7,000 yen. Women, 4,000 yen.

Every Wednesday--Lady's Day (men are welcome to attend as well)

Every Friday--Kuma-kin night, a celebratory Kumamoto-themed night.

Every Saturday--Saturday Special.

Address: 4-2-3 Akasaka Minato-ku, Tokyo Dearcity Akasaka B1F102

2 minutes on foot from Akasaka Mitsuke Station / 4 minutes on foot from Akasaka Station

By - grape Japan editorial staff.