4 Best Bars in Hokkaido, Japan

Bar Yamazaki


Tatsuro Yamazaki opened this cocktail bar in Susukino in the late 1950s and was still serving well into his nineties, before passing a few years ago. In that time, his bar established itself as one of Japan's classics; he became a legend on the drinks scene, winning international awards with concoctions like the sweet, vodka-based Sapporo, one of 200 original cocktails on the menu. The staff keep the traditions going in old-school fashion, with plaid waistcoats, white shirts and ties, and can also mix up standards or suggest a good whiskey. It's closed Sunday, and there's a ¥770 seating charge, as well as 10% service charge.

Hakodate Beer

This brewpub serves the best locally made beer in the area, with five year-round brews and the occasional seasonal special on tap. On a chilly day, the 10% ABV Shacho no yoku nomu biiru (literally, "the beer the president often drinks") is guaranteed to warm the bones. They also do beer sampler sets if you want to try their less heady weizen, alt, ale or kolsch. There's basic izakaya fare on the menu, too.

Half Note Jazz Bar


Even if you're not a fan of jazz, a night at the classy Half Note might make you into a convert. The impressive caliber of the musicians will keep you hanging on for drink after drink to see what gets played next. The cover charge and curtain time differ by night and artist, so stop by this basement spot to see if the groove going on is what you're into tonight. Wednesday is vocals night.

Recommended Fodor's Video

The Craft


This Susukino bar with brick walls has 33 domestic craft beers on tap, ranging from crisp pilsners to hop-heavy IPAs, all listed on a chalkboard above the main bar, where you can take a stool at the counter. Alternatively, take a seat by the window for a view of the nightlife outside and enjoy some bar food; the menu includes good pastas and grilled meats. It's about 30 meters west of Susukino's main crossing.

Minami 4, Nishi 4, Sapporo, Japan