Shiramuren (シラムレン)

Shiramuren.jpg
Shiramuren.jpg
S1.jpg
S2.jpg
1 Chome−1−10, Kabukicho, Shinjuku
Kabukichō 1 Chome 1-10 Shinjuku-ku Tōkyō-to JP

How can I describe this place? It’s small, dark and old; owner Otsuka-san was surly and uncommunicative the first three times I went; it’s expensive and the seats are uncomfortable..yet I quickly fell in love with Shiramuren. There is a certain kind of jazz-bar cool that is hard to convey in words; think of any Japanese film from the 1960s, where the main character was downing whiskey and peanuts in a dark joint called something like “Bar Luna”, with the bright sign hanging out the front window..this is Shiramuren for me.

Otsuka-san is unique, even for a Tokyo jazz bar owner (you`ll notice right away that he only has one arm.) He’s owned the place for more than thirty years so is by now used to making drinks and changing CDs (CDs only in Shiramuren). My first time there “No pictures” was all he said when I tried my best polite Japanese, asking for permission. By the third visit he warmed up a bit and though he went on a bit of a rant saying that “Jazz was dead in Tokyo, and young people don’t know the music, etc etc” he seemed to appreciate my interest. He also was very open about recommending other bars around town.

He has a very diverse collection of music behind the bar; the Frank Wess CD he played (tenor sax quartet + harp) my first time there really blew me away. After that was an electric klezmer cd, then some down-home Jimmy Smith. Sunday evenings at Shiramuren used to be ‘free jazz night’, but it doesn’t always happen these days. Otsuka-san will probably mix in some experimental stuff anyways even if it’s not an official ‘free jazz night’ so be prepared for it.

I am sucker for 1960s jazz nostalgia and have also watched way too many Japanese movies from that era..it was a given that Shiramuren would be one of my favorite jazz bars in Tokyo.

Size
1-10
Directions

Station: Shinjuku-JR (many), Marunouchi,Shinjuku,Fukutoshin Subway

Exit: My City Exit

Distance from station: 10-14

The Golden Gai is a maze of streets, but Shiramuren is easy to find. Enter the Golden Gai by taking the little tree-lined path next to Mr. Donut, on Yasukuni-dori. At the entrance to GG, go around the right, back side of the ¥500 bar, then the second street on the right side. You`ll see the sign that’s in the photo above.

Date published
02/14/2009. Updated May 2015
Maruha Bldg. B1, 1-1-7 Kabukicho, Shinjuku 0.04 km
03-3204-202803-3204-2028
200 types of Bourbon, cool jazz playing on the system. That about sums it up. Small place, go alo...
photo(14).JPG
Ebisu Kaikan Bldg, 4F Kabukicho 1-10-5. Shinjuku, Tokyo 0.09 km
In 2013 Black Sun moved from it’s long time home in Nishi-Shinjuku to the heart of Kabukich...
Kissa Sakaiki inside.JPG
2-4, Dai Kyo Machi, Shinjuku-Ku 0.09 km
Kissa Sakaiki gives me hope that the spirit of the Japanese jazz-kissaten will survive. Owner F...
Royal Mansion B1, Shinjuku 5-1-1, Shinjuku-Ku 0.09 km
What an unreal treat Garo was to visit. It was first opened in 1967 by the very welcoming Mr. and...
FS Bldg 4F, 3-20-6 Shinjuku 0.17 km
This is a quiet piano bar with live music nightly though more BGM style, not really a live club. ...
Narushisu inside.jpg
2F, 1 Chome−13−6, Kabukicho, Shinjuku 0.21 km
I found this tiny gem of a jazz cafe amidst the chaos that is Kabukicho in Shinjuku. It is a smal...
Jazz Room Stick inside.jpg
3 Chome−22, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 0.28 km
Jazz Room Stick is a great old jazz joint in the heart of Shinjuku, located almost directly beh...
Old+Cat_-2.jpg
3-26-2 Shinjuku Shinjuku Tokyo 0.35 km
03-3354-935403-3354-9354
The Old Blind Cat in Shinjuku has a long and fascinating history, as much as any jazz bar in town...
Jazz Tweeter outside.JPG
1-19-11 B1F Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku 0.36 km
Jazz Tweeter was opened a couple of years ago by long-time hotel restaurant chef Ishizuka-san. He...
curtisinside.jpg
Shinjuku-Ku, 3-chome 8-5 0.37 km
Curtis is one of my favorite bars in Tokyo. As the name gives away, this is a soul music bar with...
index.jpg
Shinjuku 2-12-4, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo, 160-0022 0.43 km
The Pit Inn remains near, or at the top, of any list of live jazz venues in the Tokyo area. 2015 ...
IMG_2862.JPG
B1, 3-35-12 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku 0.44 km
Jazz Pepe is as old school as it gets. Opened in 1969 by the now 77 year old Okuma-san, Pepe is a...
Samurai inside.JPG
Mori Bldg. 5F, 3-35-5, Shinjuku-Ku 0.49 km
Samurai is located in the building that used to house the Shinjuku Pit-Inn before they moved to t...
matchgreen.jpg
Nishi-shinjuku 1-4-20, Shinjuku-Ku 0.53 km
The Vagabond is a classic joint right next to the West Exit of Shinjuku station. I think the revi...
Hals Jazz outside.jpg
Daikan Plaza B-306, 7-10-17 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku 0.55 km
It’s all about vinyl at Hal’s Jazz. Owner Ikeda-san keeps a few racks of cds in the c...
IMG_4030.JPG
Chome 34-8, Shinjuku-ku, Shinjuku 0.59 km
Someday is a nice, spacious club in Shinjuku, well known for their various big band and Latin jaz...
Pearl Bar outside.JPG
Higashi Shin Bldg , 4F, 3-21-7, Shinjuku, Shunjuku-Ku 0.64 km
Pearl Bar is a real sleek “grown up” jazz bar in the center of Shinjuku. Lots of cock...
1-36-12 Yoyogi Shibuya 1.13 km
Sister-branch of Naru in Ochanomizu
Houdenasu.JPG
New Gold Bldg, 2F, 3-6-10 Shinjuku-Ku 1.2 km
Houdenasu (ほうでなす) is a small 2nd floor bar located right in the heart of Shinjuku 3-Chome,...
Ribbon outside.jpg
Watanabe Bldg B2 Ginza 8-6-19 1.25 km
The Ribbon is what most people would think of when hearing the words “Ginza Jazz”. It...
Stardust inside.JPG
Minami Bldg B1 Asagaya-Kita 2-13-5 1.25 km
03-3337-132503-3337-1325
Masuda-san sadly passed away in 2012. Stardust is an old bar, first opened in Asagaya in 1971 ...
Tom inside.JPG
Inaba Bldg , 2F Asagaya-Minami 3-28-31 1.25 km
03-3220-127503-3220-1275
吐夢 (Pronounced “To-mu” or just “Tom”) is unique in a couple of ways. ...
Cafe Ellington outside.jpg
Asagaya 3-37 1.25 km
Note: Closed in early 2015. I guess he couldn’t get many customers after all… Cafe El...
Scratch inside.JPG
Marco Polo Bldg 2F, 1-8-14 Hon-Chi, Kichijoji 1.25 km
Scratch is a quiet cafe/bar that’s been in heart of Kichijoji since 1974. They open durin...
Small Hours Cafe & Bar outside.jpg
Wako Bldg 1F 1-62-4 Kanda Jimbocho Chiyoda-Ku 1.25 km
03-5283-711703-5283-7117
Closed 2015 Small Hours is a new cafe/bar located in the back streets between Ochanomizu, Jimbo...
Ikebukuro Roudou Kijun Kyoukai Bldg B2, Ikebukuro 1-8-8 1.25 km
Jazz, Funk & Soul are on tap at Miles’ Cafe. The Ikebukuro area is not known for having...
Jazz Spot Dolphy.JPG
2F Dai Ichi Nishimura Bldg. 2F, 2-17-4 Miyagawa-cho, Naka-Ku 1.25 km
Jazz Spot Dolphy opened in 1980 but moved to its current location in 1990 and has kept up a ste...
1−28−9, Shibuya, Yoyogi 1.38 km
Music Bar is part of the new development Yoyogi Village (read more about it here. It’s no...
Kashiwagi Mura2 7-20-12, Nishi-Shinjuku 1.73 km
Swanky live club, heavy on the vocalists. Enjoyable but a bit soft for my tastes. It’s the ...
IMG_4032.JPG
Sasaki Bldg, B1, 2-8-3 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-Ku 2.08 km
Gate One is a small bar run by the husband and wife guitar-vocal duo Hashimoto-san and Kajiwara-s...
Haikara-Tei inside.jpg
Toyo Bldg. B1, 2-20-19 Yoyogi, Shibuya-Ku 2.08 km
03-3370-180103-3370-1801
Haikara-Tei is another Shinjuku jazz bar that somehow never popped up on my jazz radar after all ...
Intro outside.jpg
2-14-8 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-Ku 2.13 km
Jazz SPOT Intro in Takadanobaba is a tiny basement bar about 2 minutes walk from the station. I...
Milestone inside.JPG
Igari Bldg., 1-23-9 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-Ku 2.15 km
Milestone sadly closed its doors at the end of July, 2019 after 45 years in business. As the nam...
B1, 3-23-5 Takadanobaba, Shinjuku-Ku 2.15 km
Hot House is the world’s smallest jazz club! Maybe 8 or 10 customers max in this place. Mak...
4 Chome−3−1, Higashinakano, Nakano 2.26 km
Neighborhood cafe/bar/small live club. This is the kind of place you really only find in Japan; i...
Jazz Nutty inside.JPG
1-17-4 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku-Ku 2.26 km
03-3200-373003-3200-3730
Jazz Nutty opened in 2009 next to the campus of Waseda University. The wonderful Mr.& Mrs. ...
1-8 Yotsuya, Shinjuku-Ku 2.31 km
Eagle is really the prototypical jazz cafe. It opened in 1967 in Yotsuya, right down the street...
Genius.jpg
スズノビル1F, 3 Chome-2-10 Honchō, Nakano-ku 2.58 km
03-3372-347103-3372-3471
Genius was one of Shibuya’s more famous jazz cafes for more than 20 years before increasing...