Bar C-Shell: Fostering Communication through Pop Culture and Fine Spirits

Yu Makiura, owner and operator of Bar C-Shell, is on a mission. For him, a bar is much more than a place to serve up a few drinks. Makiura-san believes that a bar should be a hub for fostering communication and community. As he celebrates his 10th year in business, Bar C-Shell, located in Araki-Cho, Shinjuku, has come to be the true embodiment of his vision.

2019-06-06   Bars & Restaurants, Arakicho, Tokyo,

A pop culture paradise

How many pop culture icons can you spot?

Bar C-Shell is the only place in Tokyo (and perhaps the world) where you’ll be greeted at the doorway by Godzilla and Humphry Bogart. Head deeper inside and you’ll be enveloped in a pop-culture paradise filled with posters and memorabilia from Star Wars, Marvel, the Godfather, and countless other movies, anime, and comics.
Somehow this diverse assortment of collectibles doesn’t clash with the speakeasy vibe of the bar. Instead, the decorations, combined with endless rows of high-class drink bottles, are a feast for the eyes. An evening at Bar C-Shell quickly becomes a treasure hunt to find something from your favorite film as you sip an expertly prepared drink.
Regarding the bar’s décor, Miura-san passionately exclaims, “I want customers to be able to speak about their favorite flavors or hobbies.” He continues, “It feels like everything has become too business-like in Japan these days, so I wanted to give people conversation cues. Anyone can point their finger and say ‘I like this movie’ or ‘I’m also a big fan of Godzilla.’ This is a great way to start genuine conversations.”

Community, comfort, and communication

Makiura-san’s passion comes from his extensive experience and a desire to commune with his patrons. “I used to work in Ebisu, a fancy part of town filled with Michelin-starred restaurants. However, working there offered limited interaction with customers. They would only stop by once a year for special occasions, such as anniversaries.”
The down-home vibe of Araki-Cho made it the perfect location for Makiura-san to establish Bar C-Shell. “I wanted to be in a more closely knit neighborhood. For example, a place where I could recommend a movie to a customer one week, and they could come back and share their thoughts on it a week later.”
That being said, Makiura-san made it clear that succeeding in Araki-Cho is no easy feat. As he cautiously explained, “There are over 400 restaurants and bars in Araki-Cho. You have to be extraordinary to make it in this business.”

A specialty drink years in the making

Makiura-san begins the gin smoking process.

Extraordinary is indeed the perfect word to describe Makiura-san’s signature drink: an original smoked gin. This delicious concoction is literally smoked under a glass dome, with great spectacle, for all patrons to see.
“My mentor, Kevin Bragg, a barman from Atlanta inspired me to add smoke to my spirits, and I’ve been refining my technique ever since.” A truly international creation, Makiura-san’s smoked gin wouldn’t be complete without a component from right here in Tokyo.

Here is a short clip of Makiura-san making the smoked gin:

The gin remains enveloped in smoke for a few minutes. The end result is a drink that truly impacts the senses.

“The idea of using a glass dome came from Yukie Kurizaki, a skilled bartender who works in Roppongi. The original smoked gin that you’ll experience here is my original creation, but as you can see, I couldn’t have created it without the help of these individuals.”

More delicious than you can imagine: Makiura-san whips up a Spanish gin and tonic featuring chocolate and wasabi.

What about other drinks? Besides a brief list of specialties, Bar C-Shell doesn’t have a menu. According to Makiura-san, there are just too many drinks to list. Additionally, a lack of menu is also another way of fostering communication. Customers need to explain and discuss their tastes and moods in order to discover the perfect drink for the evening.

Your guide to Araki-Cho and beyond

Having spent his formative years in the U.S., Makiura-san, speaks English fluently and eagerly welcomes visitors from other countries. Spend some time talking to him, and you’ll most likely walk away with advice on how to make the most of your time in Araki-Cho and Tokyo. Through this passion for communication, he has created a bar with an incredible atmosphere and unforgettable drinks. This makes Bar C-Shell the perfect hub for a night out in Araki-Cho.

Bar C-Shell (left) can be a little hard to find. Just look for the pop culture memorabilia and you’ll know that you’re in the right place.

See Makiura-san in action on his English-language Instagram account.

For smartphone users, please click the link below to go to the Tadaima Japan website that includes the place information:

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Writer / Translator

Originally from Riverside, California, I've been living, working, and writing in Japan since 2009. Japan has become my second home, and I'm especially fond of Shinjuku, Tokyo. That being said, I also love getting out into the countryside and exploring the entire country. Through Tadaima Japan, I hope to share the wonders of Japan with a wider, international audience. Check out my articles if you enjoy exploring on foot, convenient cafes, and affordable dining.


Address 9 Arakicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo ,160-0007
Hours 18:00 – 3:00
Price 3,000yen~4,000yen
Close Sundays
Access Five-minute walk from Yotsuya-sanchome Station (Exit 4) via the Tokyo Metro Marunouichi Line
Phone 03-6380-6226
Language Japanese