Photo By: NiceBrothers, keikatsu92, maro_maruyama
Region
Kanto
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Tokyo
Population
12,059,237

Okamalt

Where literary chic meets gayborhood bar.

Apps or bars? Bookstores or the web? Okamalt, an unassuming bar cloistered in a back alley near one of Ni-chome’s busiest spots, is an interesting way forward: combine all of them! What emerges is an unmistakably cool and intellectual bar, and if there is anything the LGBT community stands for, it’s reinvention.

Walking in, you are instantly greeted like family by the presiding “Mama-san,” or bar owner, Ogura-san. Doing double-time as bartender and conversation mediator extraordinaire, his infectious gleaming smile hovers over everything. Once you start talking to him you might want to listen all day. Ogura’s past as an editor of a gay magazine called “Badi” (now out of print) and as a drag queen called Margarette (she still performs, and you can catch her at the infamous “Department H”) have left him with a lot of stories.

okumalt

Photo by: maro_maruyama The owner of Okamalt, Ogura-san.

Though the bar is only open for the first half of the week, you can think of it is as a lovely kickoff to a weekday Nichome night. Ogura welcomes international travelers to his bar with an open heart, which is something that cannot be said of all of the small bar owners in Tokyo’s premier gay district or elsewhere in Japan.

A rare opportunity to see an “off-the-beaten-path” side of the LGBT community in Japan.

Ogura-san’s career hints at the type of books stacked along one of the walls of the bar. It is a diverse group but well-curated, ranging from erotic photography to children’s books to back issues of old Japanese gay magazines, including Ogura-san’s own publication. (Unfortunately, none of the volumes are available to be sold at the moment). While not a huge collection, you could nevertheless spend hours looking through it.

Most of the books are in Japanese (Okamalt does have a few English volumes), but don’t let that stop you from picking one up and leafing through it while popping questions to Ogura-san or your fellow bar mates. It is a guarantee that you’ll leave having learned something new about LGBT life in Japan.

okumalt

Inside!

There’s something truly sublime about having a strong, well-made cocktail in one hand, a book in the other, and great conversation buzzing around you. For those who enjoy all these things, or even just one, Okamalt is for you. It’s also a rare opportunity to see an “off-the-beaten-path” side of the LGBT community in Japan, one that is a little less boisterous and rowdy maybe, but also one that just might feel closer to home.

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Things To Know

Menu

There is wide variety in the menu. Alcoholic drinks such as beer, wine, and cocktails are of course available, as are non-alcoholic drinks including coffee, tea, and soda drinks. There is also a food menu that has cafe classics like fruit plates, mixed sausage platters, and waffles (which look to die for).

Hours and fees

Seating charge is ¥1,500 which includes a drink and snacks. (This is typical of most small bars in Ni-chome). Open Sunday to Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 8 pm. (The hours are a little strange because the space is shared with another bar-owner.)

Seating

The small bar only has around 10 seats. Please be aware of this if you are in a large group.

How To Get There

Address

2 Chome-18-10 Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan

By train

Okamalt is located in Shinjuku’s Nichome district. The closest station is Shinjuku Sanchome (Exit C5) on the Marunouchi and Fukutoshin lines.

The closest landmark is Aiiro Cafe. Across the street from Aiiro there is a red building with a little alleyway next to it. Go down the alley and on your right, you will see a door with the Okamalt sign on it (It is very easy to miss so keep your eyes peeled.) The bar is up a flight of stairs.

Where To Stay

City Hotel Lonestar
  • Shinjuku 2-12-12 Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo 160-0022
  • 7.6/10
  • 0.1 km
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Hotel Rocks
  • Shinjuku 2-10-4 Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo 160-0022
  • 7.1/10
  • 0.1 km
Powered by Booking.com
  • 7.5/10
  • 0.2 km
Powered by Booking.com
  • 7.5/10
  • 0.2 km
Powered by Booking.com