Guinguette Daima is one of my two favourite haunts in Sapporo. Situated in a small building down a narrow alley just behind the Nijo market, it’s the kind of place you will stumble upon by accident, and completely miss if you are looking for it.
Guinguette Daima has an extensive menu of drinks, specialising in liqueurs from France and Europe, which are also used as bases for a variety of cocktails. They stock one of my favourites, blue curaçao, which – in my experience – isn’t all that common in Sapporo. They also have a small and delicious line in western food.
By far the highlight of the establishment is the live music sessions. They have a monthly Gypsy Music Night (first Sunday), Ragtime session (third Sunday) and open night (fourth Sunday). There are also live music events featuring independent artists or groups, usually about once a month. The proprietors are both active musicians, and the establishment is pretty popular with musicians in the same genre – bal-musette, I believe.
The establishment itself is worth a visit just for the interior decor. The proprietors are in love with France and it shows. Stepping inside is like being transported to an amalgamated fantasy of interwar and postwar France. The music that plays is very French – stereotypically, even – and there are posters all over the walls referencing Jacques Tati films and hearkening back to the turn of the 20th century. It makes for a lovely little spot that will always have a place in my heart.
The establishment is run by Naomi-san and Kumiko-san. I first came across it by chance. While on a date at Kotobuki coffee, I picked up a flyer for a ukulele concert by a Dynamite Asano. That combination was completely irresistible, and the rest is history. I still have the little toy stamp he handed out to the audience that day. I”ve been going back ever since. The proprietors are always glad to see me, and always make conversation – with the help of Google Translate, since my Japanese is very far from good. Recently, I turned them on to board games, and they’ve gone so far as to organise a couple of game nights, including one the last time I visited Daima. I can’t wait to go back.
ガンゲット・ダイマ (Guinguette Daima)
北海道札幌市中央区南3東1丁目6 (6, South 3 East 1, Chuo Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido)
18.00 – 24.00 (6 p.m. to 12 a.m.); Sundays and holidays: closed unless live event.
Price: 1500¥ to 2000¥ a person.
Notes: Perfect place for a nice, quiet night. If you play an instrument, they would love to have you at the open night. And if you care for a board game, ask for Cluedo/Clue.