The chic food culture of Edo, communicated in the style of stand-up drinking.
The etymology of the termizakayadates back to the Edo period. It was once common to buy liquor in bulk at liquor stores and drink at home, but as customers who chose to drink their purchases at the shops increased, so did the number of liquor purveyors that offered snacks as accompaniments. The roots of suchizakayapubs are said to lie in Toshimaya Honten (Toshimaya Corporation), founded in 1596. This shop has spun a history as the oldest liquor store and “stand-upizakaya” in Tokyo. The shop ceased offering foods and drinks for a long period following the Great Kanto Earthquake. Last year, however, the shop’s founding business was revived after nearly a century of rest, with the opening of the Toshimaya Sake Shop in Kanda. The spot has gained a reputation as a stand-up drinking place that communicates the food culture of Edo in a modern fashion.
The secret to the shop’s popularity is the ability to enjoy varied dishes and drinks at reasonable prices.“The Edo Traditions Menu” that arranges Edo period cuisine in contemporary style and “the Tokyo Modern Menu” with its new offerings are both excellent matches for sake. As an example, the Tofu Dengaku, which uses both tofu and miso in the Edo style, presents a modern version of Toshimaya’s most popular drinking accompaniment of the Edo Period, using a deep-flavored miso that promotes sake drinking.
Among new suggestions, pairings of cheese and sake are popular. The cheese-based snacks are also very creative. The sweet and salty taste of the Amanatto Mascarpone goes well with dry sake. All sake in the shop comes from Toshimaya Shuzou, the brewery owned by the company. For customers, learning recommended pairings of snacks and drinks from the well-versed staff is one of the enjoyments of a visit.
“Thanks to our customers, we have a high rate of repeaters. The shop is able to let young people and foreign visitors experience the chic food culture of Edo,” says the company president Toshiyuki Yoshimura.
For impatient drinkers, the sake vending machine is a plus. In addition to the reasonable price of 300 yen for 60 ml of sake, the ability to easily select from three types with the touch of a button after inserting the coins is a popular feature. From March of this year, the shop also launched a subscription service offering daily snacks and drinks for a monthly flat rate. This attitude of always attempting new things while preserving tradition serves as the guiding principle of Toshimaya.
“We’ve preserved ‘Continuity with Change’, meaning stubbornly preserving what should be preserved and boldly changing what should be changed. We want to always hold on to this spirit of breathing new life into tradition.”