If you are not dead tired after a whole day of exploring the city, you may be up for meeting some people. Or maybe you are just the kind of person who doesn’t feel the urge to kill every human being around them when exhausted, and actually enjoy sipping a beer at a crowded bar. In which case, please teach me your secrets, Oh Great Master. Either way, the bar chain Hub is well known for being a great meeting point for both foreigners (both locals and visitors) and Japanese people who don’t mind some western-style loudness. In fact, some of them are even interested in interacting with you!
That’s not the best point though: drinks are cheap (starting at ¥300) and there’s no table charge. This is rare in Japan, where most places cost ¥500 just to enter. This is probably how the chain earned its reputation. In fact, in case you are the only one who still doesn’t know this, Japanese people get friendlier and friendlier the more they drink, making this a great way to meet new people. I wouldn’t push them into more than 3-4 drinks though, unless you want to bring your newborn friendship to the next level in one night, by spending the rest of it taking care of a puking monster.
This being said, if your goal is to meet people, you may want to avoid going on a weekday, as it can be pretty boring. Except when there is a sports game going on, and then it’s probably a please-kill-me level of boredom. Not because of the match, don’t get me wrong, but most people are there just to genuinely watch the game – which in Japan is often not broadcast on normal TV channels – and will leave right after it’s over. I don’t want to underestimate your skills, but it can be pretty hard to socialize with an empty seat.
Sometimes it’s easy to get a glimpse of what is going on by peeking from the outside, but since a lot of the bars are located on the B1 level it may be hard to judge. I call those the black holes. The fact that the most popular ones (like Shibuya’s and Ginza’s) are in the basement is not a mere coincidence: you step in for happy hour (from 5 to 7 pm…not that I have that memorized or anything) and the next thing you know you are asking yourself if Tokyo was always so bright at 11 pm. Oh no, wait…it’s 11 am. So yeah, better keep an eye on the clock.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the place gets lively pretty early, and you may have a hard time finding a seat. When this occurs, the staff will ask you on entry if standing is fine for you – little do they know, this is the best way to enjoy the Hub. You can walk around freely and not be stuck with the annoying people next to you. They will probably find you again and keep talking to you no matter what, but at least you have a chance to escape. And if you are thinking that this has never happened to you and there are no such people, well, I have some bad news for you… (It’s you!)
If you are planning on going more than once during your trip, it may be worth getting the membership card; It costs ¥500, and gives you 5% off your next purchases (yes, even during happy hour). Not to mention it gives you that vibe of ‘Look at me, I know what I’m doing and I come here often’, without skipping straight to the ‘I don’t have a life, this is my home’ aura that locals with the gold membership card have (Please refer to the “A Guide to People You’ll Meet at The Hub”).
Once you have your drink in your hands, or even before if you don’t need any help being outgoing, you just have to find a good moment to introduce yourself to the hub’s locals. It’s up to you how you approach this. Options include walking up to a group of friends that look like they’re having tons of fun, standing there awkwardly and interrupting them – people are still debating if this is where the word “kamikaze” comes from – or making eye contact from afar and waiting for someone to come to you. But if you are not fed up with the never-ending “OMG, you are from *insert country here*? Sugoi desu neee!♪” and “Do you eat sushi?” conversation starters that are the standard in Japan, then the Hub might be the right place for you to spend some (…let’s give you the benefit of the doubt and say ‘one’ for now, shall we?) of your nights in Tokyo.
Hub’s Website: https://www.pub-hub.com/index.php/en