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Heading to Kanda Koju for the first time, it is not hard to walk right past the door without realizing. The unprepossessing facade gives little away to the casual passerby. You’d never guess you’re outside one of the best and buzziest izakaya (taverns) in Kanda, an area not short of after-hours drinking holes.

The clue that you’re in the right place is the sugidama, the large globe of neatly trimmed cedar needles hanging by the entrance. Since times long past, these have been associated with sake — displayed outside the warehouses where it’s brewed, the liquor stores where it’s sold, and the restaurants and bars that take pride in serving the best varieties.

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