Monday, November 12, 2018

"The standing bars of Osaka: Cheap, cheerful and nostalgic" & The Beginning of a New Tachinomiya Project

Unbeknownst to the visual anthropologist, he is caught in the act 
of research. Photo by his significant other parked across the street.

One of my tachinomiya field sites is closing at the end of this month so I have been rushing to do some salvage ethnography, trying to record the unique shop before it closes. I have no concrete plans for the research data and photos at this time (a few ideas though) but the rush is on.

A recent article in The Japan Times by Matt Kaufman seems to confirm the relevance of tachinomiya to contemporary Japanese society and validate my research. Read on and continue to check out VAOJ for the results of the new project. 

"The standing bars of Osaka: Cheap, cheerful and nostalgic" in The Japan Times, 11/10/18:

Across Japan, tucked down quiet alleyways or occupying the corner shops at busy intersections, you’ll see tachinomiya. Often translated a “standing bar,” there are two very distinct types of tachinomiya: licensed restaurants and small, privately owned liquor shops (sakeya no tachinomi).

The origin of the latter tachinomi can be traced to the Edo Period (1603-1868), when sake shops started offering customers a quick tipple from square wooden measuring cups known as masu.

These shops evolved into modern liquor stores during the Meiji Era (1868-1912) when they started selling beer, wine and spirits such as whisky, and installed makeshift counters, often made by balancing a slab of wood on stacks of empty beer crates.

Different regions have their own names for these shops. In Tohoku they are called mokkiri and in eastern Japan they are known as tachikyū. But, in recent years kaku-uchi, the type of tachinomi that originated in Kitakyushu and spread to Tokyo during the industrial revolution, has become the catch-all term used to describe these shops.

Some are well over 100 years old: Matsugawa Saketen in Kyoto has been owned by the same family since the beginning of the Meiji Era; in Osaka, there is an old liquor shop named Shibacho that has been in the same spot for 152 years; and in Tokyo, you can drink at Suzuden, which dates back to 1853.

After World War II, thousands of unlicensed tachinomiya started appearing across the country. In 1949, the government reclassified tachinomiya as restaurants in order to collect taxes. Liquor shops with standing bars were not licensed to cook food on the premises, but canned food and snacks such as dried squid were permitted to be served.

Owners also found loopholes to get around the rules, especially in Osaka. Food is brought in from outside, and nowadays it is easily heated up in the microwave. Chairs are still prohibited, but mismatched stools are kept scattered about just in case an elderly customer with a “bad leg” needs to sit down for a minute.

The author goes on to provide brief snapshot descriptions of three famous local shops. Check out the whole story at the source.


Related VAOJ posts:

Photo Exhibition and Visual Ethnography - "Tachinomiya: There Are Two Sides to Every Noren"

AJJ Presentation - Tachinomiya: Photo Exhibition as Research Method

Shooting Culture in Japan Series

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