Experiencing the Only Penguin Bar in Tokyo
For anyone that has been to one of Tokyo's ubiquitous cat cafés, we all know very well how aloof they can be when interacting with humans. So, if you're willing to pay to watch cats while sipping on a drink, we think we’ve found an even better spot in Tokyo that combines great food and drinks with adorable animals. Located about an 8-minute walk from Ikebukuro Station's North Exit you will find the city's only dining establishment featuring live penguins, the Penguin no Iru Bar.
Open every day from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m., the Penguin no Iru bar encourages adults to come visit with their special someone. Generally, seats are filled each night with a mixture of young couples struck by Cupid’s arrow, groups of women, and the occasional gang of salary men all looking for refreshing libations in an interesting ambience. And beyond the four dapper penguins strutting their stuff, the friendly staff and d?cor definitely add a fun vibe to the bar’s atmosphere.
While touching or handling the penguins isn’t allowed, stopping by the bar at the right time (around opening) does provide you with the opportunity to get some one-on-one time and a chance to feed them!
Penguin feeding time begins at 7 pm. If you want to get in on the action, we suggest you come at 6 pm.
As for my experience with feeding the penguins, simply put it was a lot of fun. Staff brought a bowl of small fish, which the penguins immediately took too—it was feeding time! As I walked back and forth with the fish in my tongs, they followed my every movement with their adorable waddle from one side of the enclosure to the other.
Tip: If you feed the penguins, they will splash; you may want to avoid wearing white because of this.
Penguin Theme Bar Interview with Yoshihito Wakugawa
How did the idea of a penguin bar originate?
Well, the owner first established the Penguin no Iru Bar in Okinawa because he loves Penguins. He realized that there wasn't a place to see penguins, and he thought it would be interesting for the Okinawan people. Also, penguins are just so cute. That's why we chose penguins!
So, this is the second branch. Why did you he choose Ikebukuro?
Hmm… Ikebukuro is famous as a vibrant scene for Tokyo’s youth. And, because you can enjoy watching penguins at the aquarium in Sunshine City, the owner thought that if people were interested in seeing penguins at the aquarium, they would definitely enjoy stopping by here.
Ah...I see. Why did you start working here?
Simple. I really like penguins! Actually, I was a regular customer at the Penguin no Iru Bar in Okinawa. After I moved to Tokyo, I heard from the owner that he was going to launch a second location here. I felt like it was destiny, so I just had to work here!
What about the other staff?
(Laughing) We all like penguins!
Could you please introduce me to the penguins?
Sure! Currently, we have four penguins—Penta and Peeko are husband and wife, and Teppei and Kuro are their friends!
Where did they come from?
They're from Cape Town in South Africa. The same kind you can see at Sunshine City's Aquarium.
South Africa? I didn't know penguins lived in warm climates. What temperature do you keep the penguin enclosure?
Oh, not too warm. Which penguin is the most popular?
Ah… Teppei is. He's always curious and fascinated with humans. If you move your finger along the glass, he’ll follow it very quickly. I think that's what makes him so charming!
It's true! Teppei followed my finger everywhere!
Okay, penguins aside, could you introduce the rest of the bar?
Well, we're open every day from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. Guests who come in between 6 p.m.–8 p.m. can experience feeding the penguins! Also, if you come early, you'll be able to get seated closer to the enclosure. So, if you'd want to feed the penguins and get good seats, I suggest coming in earlier.
What food do you recommend?
We offer a wide variety of food and drinks, but our favorites are the Teppan Skewer Plate, Egg Tomato Hamburg Steak, and the Lovely Tomato Salad!
Lovely Tomato Salad
Teppan Skewer Plate
Egg Tomato Hamburg Steak
What kind of people come here?
Hmm…. First, we do not allow anyone under the age of 18 to enter, so adults only. We see a lot of couples coming here on dates, many women coming here to enjoy a ladies night out, and the occasional group of businessmen.
This Japanese Business man was the first customer who came in today. He really likes penguins.
Do you get any foreigners coming in?
Ah, yes. Many are from China, Taiwan, or Hong Kong. We've heard from a few foreigners that they discovered us when they were on the way back to their hotel. There are a lot of hotels around this area, so we do have many foreign customers. That's why we also provide English menus.
Lastly, do you have a message for our English readers?
I hope that many people continue to come visit and check out our penguin bar. We believe that penguins symbolize happy and long-lasting relationships, so we wish everyone who comes, the same!
Past the Penguins, You’ll Find a Great Ikebukuro Bar
Besides the relaxing atmosphere and the adorable waddling entertainment, customers are treated to a delicious selection of fun penguin-themed food and drinks. Their menu features a wide variety of dishes including special dining plans for ladies, couples, and students. Course meals also include a 2-hour open bar option.
In addition to visiting the bar, you can also make reservations to book the entire place for an event or party! For example, businesses can reserve the space for their end-of-the-year party while couples can host their receptions or after-parties. Penguin no Iru Bar could even be a great location to celebrate your marriage with these adorable penguins, especially since they symbolize long-lasting love and happiness!
I'd like to thank the staff and penguins at Penguin no Iru Bar in Ikebukuro for allowing me to interview them! The experience was truly wonderful and memorable. I hope to come here again with more of my friends!
Author : Ellie Nguyen/Sekaihe Bokan
Ellie Nguyen is an American writer currently living and working in Tokyo. She enjoys trekking throughout Japan to report on the country’s unique food and restaurant culture. Be sure not to miss any of her articles posted exclusively on Gurunavi.com.