Although far from the frantic downtown Tokyo scene, Machida has its own nightlife going on. The bars around the station area come in all sizes and shapes. There is certainly a lot to choose from. Here are some of the most interesting bars, for any one and different reasons.
Machida is serviced by the Odakyu Line (a ride of 35 minutes from Shinjuku station) and the Yokohama Line (more useful if coming from Shibuya via the Den-en-toshi Line and transferring at Nagatsuta station).
Jazz Bar Herbie
Herbie is a lively basement jazz bar with a very nice music selection (and walls full of pictures of jazz heroes). Crowds are usually in their 30s-40s.
The cocktails are delicious and fairly priced, with a cover charge of 500 JPY. With counter and table seats, it’s not hard to find a seat. Conveniently placed near Odakyu Machida station, this place is my usual go-to option for weekday nights. I’ve had a few “cocktail firsts” here that never tasted as good elsewhere in the city!
The name is not the only curious thing about this bar. The place, usually home to younger crowds, is full of pop culture antics.
As you exit the elevator on the 6th floor, you will find yourself in a tiny vestibule surrounded by bookshelves. The door is, of course, not a door but a mirror, and contains a riddle to find the way into the bar.
Inside, the setup is equally bizarre. What looks like a distribution of seating areas that has been improvised in a daze does indeed make for a fun atmosphere.
You can sit on a table (boring!), or instead go lay down on the the curtained sofa-beds, have your date on the two-seat swings, or even inside a car.
In terms of exotic decoration or hipster vibe, it probably stands out among the rest in Machida.
Don’t visit this bar for the drinks (cocktails are average, and there is a cover charge), but instead to have a good time in such an interesting setup, and make friends with the people that happen in it.
There is a Hub in Machida too, and that’s fine. Lots of locals find the Hub cool (as cool as all things western), or just want to practice some English and befriend foreigners. That’s what makes this place different from the rest in Machida.
Bars in Machida Nakamise Shopping Street
Nakamise is a narrow, sheltered street in the heart of Haramachida, somewhat similar to the yokochos of Shinjuku or Shibuya. Besides some restaurants, you will find a bunch of tiny and cozy bars in there.
I personally recommend all of them! Some don’t even have a sign on it, and some are standing bars. Make sure to try Habushu liquour at the Niraikanai Okinawan bar, get a burger at Jami Jami and enjoy quality time with your colleagues at Vida Serena, beer in hand.
There’s a short video of this street on YouTube.
Beer House Alnilam
Located subtly away from the bustling streets of Haramachida, yet still a couple of minutes from the station, Alnilam is a great craft beer bar in Machida. The owner is really chill, and there’s lots of European beers to please every type of beer drinker. Of course, the best they have is Belgian beer ;).
The walls are crammed with beer-related decorations, similar to the Oktoberfest bar mentioned at the end of this list.
Alnilam has a cozy atmosphere, perfect for late night drinking with friends. Nevertheless, the seating configuration doesn’t really make it easy for meeting new people.
Wine Bar Zaza
Albeit a bit expensive, the wines Zaza might be the best in town. The atmosphere is very relaxed, and the delicious selection of foreign dishes will make you want to go again.
This is one of my favorite bars, perfect for a date or a relaxed chat with a friend. It is probably the quietest bar in the city. The small and fancy establishment has less than ten seats, but you will seldom find any other customers.
The quiet vibe is curated by a first-class bartender who will remain mostly silent unless spoken to. Any question about a liquour might get him started on old tales about its origin.
Expect to pay at least 1,000 yen for your cocktail, and expect that cocktail to be extremely delicious and refreshing. As always, asking the bartender for a recommendation is a safe bet. It’s probably the closest to Ginza-style that one can find in Machida.
Bar La Sala
La Sala is run by the previous bartender of Quadrifogglio. In fact, as far as I understand, La Sala’s bartender is Quadrifogglio’s bartender’s senior. La Sala is a cozy, tiny (TINY) bar with four chairs and a minimalistic but great setup. Black walls, all darkness except for a smart, very bright and narrow white light placed above the counter made me feel like I was drinking on the Ikarie XB-1 spaceship.
The bartender is a quiet, handsome middle-aged man in immaculate clothes. He makes sure to have the best, sometimes rare, fruits every season, and improvises exquisite cocktails upon request. He sometimes loses himself in flashes of excited talk to the point that the words get lost for Japanese audiences too, but maybe that’s part of the job. All in all, the quintessential Japanese modern cocktail bar to go for a minute of intimacy away from the busy street.
Bar El Acuario
Another very quiet right in the center of Haramachida is El Acuario (“the aquarium”). Usually empty during weekdays, what I like about this bar is the physical setup.
El Acuario is hidden in a 6th floor of a non-descript building close to the shopping malls.
There aren’t many bars on high floors in Machida with windows, so I usually find myself here for the views. These views are not award-winning; they are just the rooftops of the nearby simple, rather ugly buildings.
But this is what Machida looks like from above, not Shinjuku, and that’s okay. I like my conversations against the skyline of a city in the night, so for now I secretly love this bar the most.
Anyway: 6th floor bar with tables and counter seats, a fish tank (the “acuario”), table charge and very good cocktails that start at 850 yen seemingly bartended by a middle-age man and woman.
This bar is very expensive for what the drinks are worth, but the great music selection and the “free” popcorn make it worthy of a spot in this list as well. There is only one sofa besides the counter, so I am still not sure what’s going on.
It is often empty during weekdays, so I am not sure how the business is still alive.
Into The Blue
Check out this place if you wish to enjoy your drinks with live jazz. Cozy and very familiar, this jazz club can get very intense some nights!
金玉霊園 in Japanese, which literally means “testicles cemetery”. As far as I know, this is the only gay bar in town. Tiny and cozy, it is frequented by both young and middle-age people. The kind and funny mama gives student discounts.
One of the coolest and also tiniest bars in the city. It has eight seats and usually gets crowded pretty early on. Despite the impeccable attire and craft of the bartenders, it has some sort of underground feeling to it; perfect haven for deflectors.
Definitely check it out if you are around!
Last, but not least, there is a peculiar beer bar/store chucked away from the downtown buzz. The woman who runs this place can talk about beer for hours. She goes to Munich every year for the Oktoberfest, and has an awesome collection of beers.
The place seems saturated with magazines and beer goodies (Diogenes syndrome?), but she’ll quickly make room for you if you ask nicely.
Do you have any bar in Machida that you love? Let me know in the comments below!!