Stepping into the Prince Cocktail Bar is like momentarily stepping into a time warp and not exactly knowing where or when you have ended up. The entrance is unassuming, located down the nagayokocho alleyway, and only marked by a sign with its name in Japanese and the English word ‘DEEP’. But once found, you will be quickly rewarded upon opening the door with a captivating sight: a dazzling but small bar that is covered in business cards on the ceiling, endless posters of Marlyn Monroe on the walls, and fake flowers scattered as decorations here and there.
Prince is the oldest cocktail bar in the city of Hachinohe; it has been in business since 1957. True to the style of the city, the bar is a family affair, it is run by the owner, his wife, and their son. It is one of the most beloved, most popular places to finish or start the night in the city for those in the know, and as almost all cocktails are only 500 yen, it is quite economical. The bar’s lively but homey, almost nostalgic atmosphere, has ensured its enduring popularity across the generations of the city, and customers from all different jobs and strata of society come to the bar to relax, chat and enjoy one of the bar’s cocktails.
Although more classic cocktails like mojitos are available, the biggest draw for most of the bar’s patrons are its unique creations. The owner has created a line of original cocktails that are all named after different famous places or things in the city. For example, there is the Kabushima cocktail, named after the Kabushima Shrine, a local Shinto shrine that sits above the ocean on a small peninsula that juts out into the city’s port. In 2015, the Kabushima shrine burned down and the owner decided to donate 100 yen (a little over a dollar) to the shrine’s reconstruction fund every time the cocktail was ordered. By the time the shrine had been rebuilt and officially re-opened in March 2020, the bar had sold over 23,000 of the cocktails. The cocktail is a bright blue, representing the beautiful ocean that surrounds the shrine. It is topped with a slice of lemon, the yellow of which represents the canola flowers that cover the shrine grounds in spring, and a bright red cocktail cherry, which represents the vermilion gates of Japan’s Shinto shrines.
Another specialty of the Prince Bar is a set of four cocktails known as the Jinja-Ale Cocktails. Jinja is the Japanese word for a Shinto shrine, and the cocktails’ name is a play from the word “jinja” and the English word ‘ginger ale’. The cocktails were made to support a local festival called the Sansha Taisai, or ‘Three Shrine Festival’ that takes place every summer in the city. During the festival, 27 festival floats that can reach over 30 feet in height are pulled through the streets of Hachinohe. Whenever a customer buys one of the Jinja-Ale Cocktails, a 100-yen donation goes to the managing organization that ensures the preservation of this local festival. The floats that are used in the festival are decorated with four different themes: Iwa (rock), Nami (wave), Tatemono (building), Kouran (crimson bridge). The owner of the Prince Bar made a set of cocktails to represent each of these four themes.
There are several other great original cocktails at the bar but whichever you choose, you are sure to have a unique, local, and great time whenever you visit Prince.
- 18 Nagayokocho, Hachinohe, Aomori 031-0089
17:00~24:00 (No Set Closed Days)
By Foot: 15 min walk from Hon-Hachinohe JR Station, 3 min walk from the main downtown area
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