Unusual Tokyo Eatery: 6-Nen 4-Kumi
Catering to those who want to relive their childhoods and simultaneously get absolutely wasted, 6-Nen 4-Kumi (“Sixth Grade, Group Four”) is a national chain of izakayas that are themed after Japanese elementary schools.
While many Tokyo establishments are merely “inspired” by their themes, this quirky bar is wholly dedicated to its motif.
The entrance reveals a stack of shoe racks where, in actual schools, students would change out of their outdoor shoes and don either sneakers or slippers. Nearby, there are stacks of randoseru (backpacks)—an elementary school necessity—and cute yellow caps, should patrons desire a drunken photo op worthy of flagging on Facebook as inappropriate.
The staff, dressed as school nurses and P.E. and math teachers, guide guests down hallways past drinking rooms, each with their own vibe: some are classrooms and music rooms; others cafeterias and the principal’s office. Every room comes with its own paraphernalia, be it school supplies, chalkboards, music instruments, or toys. In lieu of guest books, the bar is equipped with school notebooks for visitors to write comments or draw pictures of clouds and sunflowers—or of no-no body parts.
The food selection comprises cafeteria staples and Japanese kid-favorites, such as Napolitan spaghetti, omelet rice, and onigiri—many of which are served with little flags, in colorful plastic trays and containers. Among the desserts is the “oppai ice,” an ice cream served in a balloon with the tip snipped off, making the whole eating process rather suggestive—though this apparently used to be a common after-school treat.
The drinks menu is extensive with over a hundred offerings, including highballs incorporating “Gari Gari-kun” popsicles, alcohol-infused fruit milkshakes, and espresso cocktails. But the star of the menu is the “Rika no Obenkyo” (“chemistry studies”), a mix-it-yourself set with fruit liqueurs in test tubes. The drinks, just like the food, aren’t anything to write home about, taste-wise; but it’s all about the novelty here.
For the Japan-raised, 6-Nen is a trip down memory lane. For those that pursued primary education elsewhere, this bar is simply a trip.
Address: 9F Shinjuku Square Bld., 1-16-3 Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku.
Nearest station: Shinjuku.
Address: 4F & 5F Assorti Shibuya, 32-12 Udagawa-cho, Shibuya-ku.
Nearest station: Shibuya.
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