Editor’s Note: Gotsubo has closed due to development of the area. This review has been kept up for posterity’s sake.
Gotsubo The Bottom Line
What Gotsubo lacks in space and extensive tap list, it makes up in atmosphere and is perhaps one of the most charismatic little bars in Japan I’ve come across. The tap list is solid, with Shiga Kogen beers on tap, and the whole place is non-smoking and standing. If you’re in the area and want a well-poured pint, then Gotsubo should be your choice for a quick one on the way home.
Gotsubo The Full Review
Bar #2 in our small bar crawl through Ikebukuro was supposed to be Vivo!, but that ended up being the third instead as we stumbled across Gotsubo – which means five tsubos, a Japanese measurement roughly equivalent to 3.3 square metres, making this bar roughly 17m² in size, perhaps one of the smallest bars we’ve been to for BeerTenokgu. By day, Gotsubo sells katsukare for the local office workers, but at 5pm, it opens up as a standing only bar.
Gotsubo is located about five minutes from Ikebukuro station, on the east side of the area, and has been open since late 2015. The bar is staffed by one person for both the lunch rush and bar slot; a charismatic Miba-san who loves both katsukare and also Shiga Kogen beer. While there are seats at the counter, don’t expect to be able to sit down if you arrive past 7pm as Gotsubo gets busy – as in ram-packed busy with no space to move and people spilling out onto the streets. As a result, there is no table charge nor any otoshi given to you so that makes it already a good place in our books. However, there is no English spoken so be warned you may need a Japanese speaker with you; however, Miba-san was understanding enough with our passable attempts at conversation.
The tap list at Gotsubo is limited and beers come in three sizes: small (about 150ml) for ¥550, medium (about 270ml) for ¥800 and US pints (470ml) for ¥1,000, with all prices including tax. While there is usually one tap of Shiga Kogen IPA on at any one time, Gotsubo is looking to expand on that depending on business and demand for beers. There are also bottles, Shiga Kogen if you couldn’t guess, in the fridges, though they are pricey compared to what you will find them for in Shinshu Osake Mura, but the prices for them do include tax as well. There is no happy hour but the pints are filled up to the top with no head – not a smidgen of bubbles.
Gotsubo is small and as such, the food in the evening slot is just small otsumami, or Japanese snacks, such as fried spaghetti or other assortments, so best get some food in before you end up here.
Open: Daily Lunch 11:30 to 15:00 Dinner 17:00 to 22:00
Happy Hour: None
How to Get to Gotsubo
The closest station to Gotsubo is Ikebukuro, which is shared by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), Tokyo subway operator Tokyo Metro (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line, and Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line) along with Seibu Railway and Tobu Railway.