Hitorizake: Drinking Solo in Japan vs MKE
During my time as a bight eyed study abroad student in the Ishikawa prefecture of Japan, I wanted to fully immerse myself in culture while there. I’m talking full on, deep, accidentally-dropped-the-chip-in-the salsa-and-now it-has-to-stay-there immersion.
Having studied the language for about 3 years, needless to say I was still screwed upon arrival as far as effectively communicating with the locals. By effectively I am referring to my ability to explain the finer points of American legislation and education system to peers. There were a lot of “ums” and “things” thrown in for good measurement. However, lighthearted conversation came easily. This came in handy when I eventually meandered into bars solo to fully take in the vibe of a great little town called Kanazawa.
Kanazawa was eerily familiar to Milwaukee. Surrounded by farmland with a mini-metro epicenter, Kanazawa felt a lot like home. There were tons of local bars to choose from, an active music scene at one of the few music venues, and a local art museum and college that supplied no end of hipsters in ironic, American T-shirts.
When I set out to check out the bars solo, something I had yet to do in Milwaukee, I was completely blown away by the normalcy of the action. Usually, the only solo drinkers would be tired businessmen or even tireder businessmen saddled up to the bar and chain smoking. But as the night grew on and I became more and more confident with venturing out alone, I noticed that drinking alone or hitorizake was completely normal.
After reading this great article about women in japan an how the preference to be alone was normal, I had soon acclimated to arriving at my favorite bar, Kabucha and spending the evening watching whatever subtitled movies the bartender put on and eating giant plate of edame with beer. This of course followed after being handed a small, pre warmed towel.
Once back in Milwaukee, I continued with hitorizake. Finding a bar that had the perfect atmosphere for drinking alone wasn’t too hard to do, granted I stayed away from any sports bars. A short list of great watering holes to get your lonely drink on are:
- Nessun Dorma
It was the tiny plants in the window that drew me in. As a recent transplant to Riverwest, Nessun Dorma was high on my list for places to visit. The atmosphere was perfect for stuffing my self with a panini and reading while downing coffee stouts.
Long since a favorite of mine, the amble space at the bar and small tables made for a comfy visit when I was wanted the peace of my own company. The summer is also an awesome time to read some heavy novel on their patio and swirl your hard cider broodingly.
Need something to do with your hands? Play pinball or Mortal Kombat after grabbing your beer.
Be prepared for a few pitying stares thrown your way before other patrons realize you intended to pound that gin and tonic alone. I will admit that I have imagine myself in a black cocktail dress, sipping a boozy martini while reading a paper when I started out on this venture. In reality, I’m one of many bar-goer decked out in jeans and sweaters and a longing to escape cabin fever during Milwaukee’s colder months.
So, if you are a drinker, try grabbing one by yourself next time and talking to others while there. It doesn’t have to be weird.
**Disclaimer: Drink responsibly!