Motomachi Kyujo is an izakaya-style Japanese pub in Hokkaido that is serving an anti-war, anti-violence message as much as it serves the traditional Japanese sake. The 62-year-old pub owner Chiharu Ishikawa is as much committed to his anti-war stance as he is to serving the patrons at his small pub, where 12 people means a full house for the modest pub.
An “izakaya” is a casual after-work watering hole that also serves food together with its drinks. These kinds of pubs are popular in Japanese culture and stand out because of the traditional red lantern that usually hangs at their doors. Ishikawa is committed to promoting peace, very evident in the pub’s calling card which suggests to “love peace.” The pub’s name is also named after the anti-war clause in the Japanese postwar pacifist Constitution – “kyujo” means “Article 9”. Ishikawa adopted his anti-war ideologies back when the Vietnam War was ongoing. He was passionate about the war-renouncing article in the Japanese Constitution, but he also saw that Japan was being used as a staging area for military troops bound for Southeast Asia. In his mind, Japan was culpable for being part of the war as well, therefore breaking the Article 9 statute.
But the pub owner is unwavering in his fight for peace. He enjoys explaining the pub’s name to his patrons, as it gives him the opportunity to share what he believes in. He laughs as he tells of his customers’ surprise when he tells them where he got his pub’s name. He also reminds patrons that it is because the country is at peace that “the sake tastes good.” Ishikawa says he will continue to spread the love of sake and the Article 9 to all who come into his pub, especially these days when the Japanese government is trying to re-calibrate the interpretations of his beloved statute. “I want to make my establishment a showroom for peace and keep spreading the word,” he says.