Known as “the smallest jazz bar in the world”, Hot House provides a fun and unique experience. Although the history here is long and rich, like a much-loved old car, I’m not sure how many more years are left on the engine, so it’s best to make it here while you can and experience something truly like nowhere else.

This is the tiny bar where you should go with a big appetite because you will be served a variety of homemade food. Aki-san, the cook and owner, spends most of the time in the kitchen cooking up the dishes and bringing them out one by one while you enjoy the music: take a paper plate and a pair of chopsticks and the food will come around, like an indoor picnic.

This space is tiny so you want to arrive on time to take a seat at the small rectangular table. The atmosphere is cozy, homey, perhaps one could even say dingy, and feels a bit like an old garage where a piano, an old tv, boxes, and who knows what are stacked all over. The walls are covered with papers announcing the upcoming music schedules, and photos of past performances.

The performance starts and the dishes are brought out, so you can eat during that along with the other customers who are sitting right next to you. After a short break, another second set is performed. After that, the musicians eat and sit at the table. Depending on the atmosphere, people may start to leave here or may stay and chat with the musicians and Aki-san. Sometimes this turns into a very late-night party feel.

From Takadanobaba station it’s about a 10-minute walk down the street, and you may feel like you passed it because you keep walking and there doesn’t seem to be much else going on this far from the station. Just keep going and looking out for the small sign saying Hot-House. But if you end up walking say 20 minutes in the same direction, it’s time to head back.

Last thing to note and it’s worth saying again: this precious Tokyo gem has almost closed down once before; it would be a shame to miss stopping by Hot House at least once before it inevitably closes its doors for good, someday, perhaps before we know it.


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Jul 15, 2022