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Release | Yoko Sasaki

Why does everyone love “Hakurai Izakaya Suginoko”, the long-established bar in Hakodate

If you visit Hakodate, you should visit that bar.
You can learn the history of Hakodate and hear some interesting stories.
“Hakurai Izakaya Suginoko” is often introduced like that.
60 years since they started the business in Daimon area near Hakodate Station. They have many different stories. 

 alt、 ▲店名は、サトウハチローの童謡『お山の杉の子』から命名▲The name of the bar came from “Oyama To Suginoko”, a children’s song by Hachiro Sato. 

alt、▲ソファ席、個室もありますが、一番人気はみんなでおしゃべりを楽しめるカウンター▲There are sofa seats, private rooms, and the most popular bar seats where people can enjoy conversations. 


Rum highball is cheaper than a cup of coffee

“Suginoko” is a bar where different people stop by and rest. Travelers, local students, elders, etc… everyone enjoys the place. This authentic and long-established bar is well-known among Hakodate fans. 

“We opened the bar in 1958 when Hakodate was flourished by north-sea fisheries. My dad, who has passed away already, borrowed banana storage and created the bar with the mezzanine floor at the corner of Yanagi-Koji, one of the busiest streets in Hakodate. 

The owner Motoko Aoi told the story gently. They moved across “Hakodate Hikari No Yatai Daimon Yokocho” in 2015 due to the aging of the original building. 

 alt、▲少女のような笑顔が評判の元子さん。ご主人は青函連絡船の元航海士というのも函館らしいですね▲Motoko has a girlish smile. Her husband is an ex-mate of Seikan Ferry. That is very Hakodate-like background. 

Suginoko offers over 300 kinds of drinks including Scotch, spirits, herb and fruit liqueurs, and soft drinks. They offer drinks at reasonable prices, and that is another reason they continue to get new repeaters. 

The most popular drink from the opening is their rum highball in the picture below. How much do you think for a glass? It’s only 250 yen. Surprising, right? At Suginoko, where they don’t require table charge, it’s cheaper to drink alcohol here than drinking coffee at a coffee shop. 

alt、▲「ここのライムハイボールは、若くてお金がなかった頃の想い出の一杯」。そう懐かしむお客様も少なくないそうです▲Many old people come here to taste the rum highball which is the memorable drink they enjoyed when they are young and poor.


Make cultures and topics of Hakodate into cocktails. 

Motoko shakes shakers and makes cocktails just like her deceased father did. Yes, Suginoko is known for delicious cocktails. Let me introduce original cocktails Motoko created, inspired by Hakodate. 

alt、▲映画化もされた、函館出身の作家・佐藤泰志の小説から名をとった「海炭市叙景」850円。作品のイメージをスモーキーブルーで表現した、元子さん発案の一杯。甘酸っぱい味わいが女性に人気のリキュール、ヒプノティックをベースに、ホワイトラム、イタリアの薬草酒・サンブーカ、レモン▲“Sketches of Kaitan City” 850 yen -  the name is from the novel by Yasushi Hakodate, a writer from Hakodate, which was also made into a movie. She expresses the piece with smoky blue color. She puts sweet and sour Hypnotic which females often like as a base, and adds white rum, Italian herb liqueur Sambuca, and lemon. 

alt、▲鉄道ファンなら、この3色を見ただけで何をイメージしたカクテルか、わかりますね?北海道新幹線のE5系電車のボディカラーを再現した「はやぶさ」850円。北海道新幹線開業を祝って誕生しました。下からグリーンペパーミント、パルフェタムール、コアントロー▲If you like trains, you should be able to recognize what inspired the cocktail from these three colors. “Hayabusa” 850 yen - expresses the exterior colors of Hokkaido Shinkansen E5 series. She created this cocktail as a celebration of Hokkaido Shinkansen. From the bottom: green peppermint, Parfait Amour, and Cointreau. 

alt、▲木古内-五稜郭を結ぶ道南いさりび鉄道のアイコン的列車「ながまれ号」の車両デザインからヒントを得た「待宵藍(まつよいらん)」1,000円。ジンをベースに、ブルーキュラソー、パルフェタムール、レモン。車体に描かれた星を金箔で表現しています▲“Matsuyoiran” 950 yen - inspired by the design of “Nagamare Gou”, which is an iconic train of South Hokkaido Isaribi Railway connects Kikonai and Goryokaku. Adds Blue Curacao, Parfait Amour, and lemon to gin. She expresses the star illustrations on the train with gold flakes. 

You can also enjoy original cocktails inspired by Seikan Ferry, Hokkaido University training ships, novels of Hisanari Tsuji, who spent his high school years in Hakodate, etc. It seems nice to listen to unique stories only available here as you enjoy the cocktails. 


The night to visit memories and make new memories

Suginoko is not somewhere makes people nervous even though they are a long-established authentic bar. This is somewhat a perfect place to relax with your friends or enjoy drinks without difficult logic. 

There are sofas which you can take off your shoes and relax on the second floor. Motoko told me that the second floor is popular among university students to spend some time after graduation ceremonies. The second floor is also favorite for old fans because it reminds them the old building where they had a mezzanine. 

 alt、▲なごやかな会話や笑い声が吹き抜けを通して1階と2階を行き交います▲Relaxing conversations and laughter cross between the first floor and the second floor. 

 alt、 ▲2階からオーダーするときは、このトライアングルを鳴らすのが「杉の子」式▲In Suginoko, people sound the triangle when you order something from the second floor. 

alt、▲前の店から引っ越してきた操舵輪の周りには、名刺がびっちり。店を気に入ったお客さんが勝手に貼っていくそうで、これも前の店からのお約束。元子さんも「いつ頃始まったのかは、私もわからないんです(笑)」▲The wall around the steering wheel brought from the past building was filled with business cards. People who loved the place leave their business card, and it is kind of a rule continues from the past building. “Even I don’t know when this tradition started,” Motoko told.

Suginoko celebrated its 60th anniversary. It continues from father to daughter and customers to customer. In fact, there is another relay of history. That is this building. It was built as storage of Japan National Railway’s purchasing department, then used by “Wansan”, the legendary Chinese restaurant for a long time. 

“As we restarted the bar in this building, we rebuilt inside almost completely. However, we wanted to leave something from Wansan, and we inherited this lantern” The lantern which Motoko introduced is put on the counter where customers can notice easily. 


Those who want to learn a bit more about Hakodate or who wants to make new friends in Hakodate should definitely stop by this bar. 


Related Links

- Hakurai Izakaya Suginoko
  • Why does everyone love “Hakurai Izakaya Suginoko”, the long-established bar in Hakodate

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Yoko Sasaki