April 26, 2013

Meet Tokyo's Bartending Monk

Alex Caring-Lobel

Bartenders are easy to confide in. Not just because you're probably wasted, but because so many others have been before you. Your neighborhood barkeep has already heard it all, and though he might not be able to impart any sage advice, he's at least developed some good listening skills.

While barkeeps seem to have always occupied this unique social position, it's therapists who often do these days. Before therapy, which developed from the Christian culture of confession and divulgence, it was the clergy who saddled this responsibility.

Vowz Bar in Tokyo revitalizes that once important role of clergy, placing them right behind the bar, where Buddhist-themed cocktails are mixed for spiritually thirsty patrons. Run by monks in the bustling Shinjuku district, it's likely the only bar where boozy-and-stirred concoctions are offered with a prayer.

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Danny's picture

Funny...I see a striking parallel between this "Boozism" in Japan, and "mindfulness meditation" practice in the West, ha

Dominic Gomez's picture

In that both numb the person to reality?

celticpassage's picture

Reminds me of the pole dancer who strips for Christ.
In case you're wondering, she isn't supported by any church.

millshersee's picture

A roshi, a rinpoche and a sensei walk into a bar.....

Dominic Gomez's picture

...momentarily unmindful of how low it is and get two-point deductions, ruining their chances for Olympic gold.

Eternal Sunshine's picture

Amazing where you can find the Dharma!

MDrew's picture

I dunno - sorta strikes me the same way as Buddhist Chaplains in the military - both catering to, and thereby facilitating development of the baser aspects of humanity. However, Emma & Dom, jokes were pretty funny :-)

dawn.heyse's picture

There are Buddhists serving in the military. Buddhist chaplains are there to serve them (and other service members, too), not to espouse violence.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Patron walks into Vowz, studies the wall of bottles behind the barmonk and says "Make me one with everything."

dawn.heyse's picture


Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Bartender-monk says, "Four dollars." Patron hands him five. Patron waits to receive his change, but the bartender-monk ignores him.

Patron finally asks, "Where's my change?"

Bartender-monk replies, "Change only comes from within."

dawn.heyse's picture

:) Good one!