Cigarette smoke wafts across rows of whisky and shōchū bottles with dedicated name tags draped around the necks as an elderly man, microphone in hand, belts out a Showa Era enka tune playing on the karaoke machine.

Another local steps through the heavy door, saluting regulars crowding the bar counter and chatting up Mari Ichikawa, a middle-aged mama-san whose costume tonight is a black, silky gown. Hair carefully curled, face immaculately made up, she hands an oshibori (hot towel) to the latest customer entering her dimly lit domain.

Welcome to the sunakku, or "snack bar" — a unique and ubiquitous drinking establishment that is a fixture of the Japanese nightlife.