Back when I was planning my trip to Tokyo I came across a bar known as the ‘Photographers Bar.’
What I knew about this bar was that it was located in the famous Golden Gai area of Tokyo and was frequented by photographers not only from Tokyo, but from all over the world.
Regulars included of course Daido Moriyama, who I was hoping to meet when I went to Tokyo. I also had seen that people like Bellamy Hunt (the Japan Camera Hunter,) Eric Kim and Mijonju had been there at one time or another also.
The only difficulty was that everyone who posted about it online made reference to the fact that is pretty much a ‘secret,’ bar. As in no one will reveal its exact location.
Luckily I did manage to find the legit name of the bar online and also that it was spelt over the bar in Hiragana. So translating this into Hiragana using an online chart, I headed to Tokyo and on my second night, made my way to Golden Gai to find this place.
After fifteen minutes of walking up and down the alleys, looking into various other bars and being completely lost, I stumbled upon it. Making my way upstairs I saw a picture of Moriyama above the door and knew I had the right place.
Like most bars in Golden Gai it is tiny inside, seating around ten people at a squeeze but the elderly lady who worked there invited me right in. No one spoke English, I didn’t speak Japanese but I stayed there a few hours, drinking beers and looking through their huge collection of photo books. The owner and her customers also had a good look at my M2 and kept picking out books they felt I should look at.
Later that evening some very drunk Japanese photographers showed up who were like a classic comedy double act. The drunker of the two went to sleep for a while but when he woke up he showed me his cameras. Some I knew, some I had never seen before and there were collective gasps when he took out a beautiful lens he had of course managed to smash at some point that night.
If you are interested in photography and find yourself in Tokyo I cannot recommend this place enough. It’s small, it’s quiet and it’s full to the ceiling (and all over the ceiling) with photography related everything. During my week in Tokyo I spent two evenings here and it really did feel like being part of an exclusive little place where everyone shared the same passion.
Every city should have a photographers bar.