Sake Bar Asakura Blacklisted

UPDATE June 2nd 2014 – Sake Bar Asakura is now BLACKLISTED! I would like to apologize to readers for recommending this bar based on one visit. Though the owner was very pleasant when I went with Michael B. of Kyoto Foodie, on subsequent visits he seemed only too keen to turn me away at the door. From the reports of others (please see the comments below)  it has become clear that Asakura-san really doesn’t want (some?) foreigners to visit his bar. it has become clear that the owner cannot be relied on to serve his customers in a polite fashion. Previously I conjectured that this was because he doesn’t want foreigners to visit his bar, but I have been told this is not the case. Regardless of the reason, I would now recommend NOT visiting this bar unless you wish to be treated very rudely. For a far pleasanter experience Sake Bar Yoramu is still recommended.

Last night, on my way home from A VERY IMPORTANT MEETING (about which I shall reveal more later), I bumped into Kyotofoodie‘s Michael B. (aka Peko) and not having seen each other for a very long time we promptly went for a drink together. Michael introduced me to Sake Bar Asakura and a very pleasant evening of sake tasting ensued. Here is the owner, Asakura-san, a friendly and fluent English speaker, who introduced us to a variety of sakes and told us a little about each one as we tried them out.

Asakura-san and a range of fine tasting nihonshus…

By the end of the evening I think we both agreed that we liked “Yadorigi”, the best. Here we are, the two Michaels;  myself cradling the Yadorigi and Michael B. with a bottle of “Kaze no Mori” or the windy woods (that one wasn’t bad either). Just look at how happy and satisfied we are!

Two very happy Michaels.

To read more about Sake Bar Asakura (perhaps more properly named Nihonshu Bar Asakura) and about the varieties of sake (more properly called nihonshu), take a look at Michael’s excellent article on Asakura-san’s bar on his site Open Kyoto.

Sake Bar Yoramu

8 Responses to Sake Bar Asakura Blacklisted

  1. Thanks for sharing such a promising tip! I hope we can go there together sometime.

  2. Stephen Miller

    Dear Michael,

    I’m Patrick Donnelly’s spouse. Konnichi wa!

    Patrick and I went to Asakura Sake Bar tonight and were treated about as rudely as I’ve ever been treated in my entire 7 years of being in Japan. The master was unfriendly, unsmiling, and unwelcoming. I spoke Japanese to him, so maybe that set him off–I don’t know. But I told him I’d like to try a junmaishu that I’d never had before. And his dismissive reply was, “Well, I’m not you, so I don’t know what you’ve had.” At which point, that pretty much put an end to any other questions I might have had. Any master worth his weight in saké would have taken my inquiry to be an entry into a conversation, but this was obviously not the case with this master. I’m not a person with attitude, so I don’t think there was anything in my own behavior that could have triggered his reaction to me. When we left, he didn’t say anything. I told his wait staff on the way out at the door that I thought his way of treating customers was horrible.

    I’m not a complainer, Michael, even though this is a complaint. But I don’t think you should keep this place posted in Deep Kyoto. Unless there was some huge misunderstanding that I didn’t pick up on, then his behavior was way over the top in inappropriateness.

    This is a horrible way to introduce myself to you. And I’m sorry for that. I really hope we get to spend some time together at the haiku workshop later in June.


  3. I would be hesitant to blacklist this place. I go there fairly regularly (as do other foreigners I know) and have never had any problems – my experience has only been positive. I rather like the place.

  4. Michael Lambe

    Thank you for your feedback, Dylan. Perhaps I cannot judge why the owner behaves the way he does, but his manners are clearly erratic and I can no longer justify recommending his bar on my site if it leads to people having the kind of experience Stephen Miller detailed in his comment above.

  5. Yeah, I understand that. I just think it’s a little unfair to turn it into an issue of him having something against all/some “foreigners.” I think he gets stressed out when it gets busy which may have led to Stephen’s experience.

  6. Michael Lambe

    Well, I suppose there could be all sorts of reasons why he is rude. Perhaps you are right and I should not have conjectured a reason at all. Regardless of the reasons he remains blacklisted for being rude.

  7. I love the place, He was nothing but nice too me. I’m sorry Stephen had such a bad experience. It makes me wonder what Stephen did to deserve that sort of treatment. I would definitely recommend a number of people to his bar.

  8. Hi Jose,

    Thank you for taking the time to defend a bar you obviously have some affection for. However, I think it is unfair of you to imply that Stephen somehow deserved the rude treatment he received there. I know Stephen, and I find him to be a fair minded and all round decent sort of fellow. Of course it could be the case that Asakura-san was simply having a bad day, but unfortunately Stephen is not the only person who has complained to me about the owner’s manners and I myself have found him to be brusque at best. So I stand by my decision to blacklist this bar in order to warn others against similar disappointments.

    Best wishes,

    Michael Lambe

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