The area around Ebisu is noted for its cosmopolitan flair, with residents and visitors from around the world dropping in at its shops and restaurants. It should come as no surprise, then, that the Footnik Ebisu is one of the locations of choice in the neighborhood.
The sports bar is the Footnik’s second branch—the first location was opened in Takadanobaba in 1996, and the Ebisu branch opened in 2001. The owner of the bar is a long-time fan of British culture, including soccer, so he decided to open the first bar just around the time of the Euro 96 football championship.
Footnik Ebisu manager Manop Khalifa explained, “The idea was to make a place where foreigners—who were not as plentiful in Tokyo then as they are now—and Japanese people could gather together, watch football, and create an exciting international atmosphere.” The bar is one of the oldest British pubs in Tokyo, and the oldest British sports pub in Japan.
The bar has an inviting interior, with hand-lettered wooden signs adorning the top of the bar and framed sports memorabilia hung on the walls. A colorfully decorated chalkboard at the bar lists the beers on tap.
Given the bar’s name, you can expect that it shows plenty of football. The Footnik regularly features J.League games, the Asian Champions League, and all of the Japan national team matches. On the European side, they show the Premier League on the weekends and Champions League matches, often opening early to do so. For American football fans, there is the Super Bowl, and there’s also rugby, including the Six Nations Championship. Footnik Ebisu is outfitted with three TVs, as well as a big screen and projector in the back of the bar that is used for live games.
The Footnik proudly boasts a wide range of British-themed dining options including bangers and mash, Scotch eggs and sausage rolls. The bar is an international member of the UK’s National Federation of Fish Friers, so the Footnik’s fish and chips come highly recommended. Featured on the menu is a lineup of four or five sausages made by a Tokyo-based, British-owned company and changed three or four times a year. The menu is rounded out with other favorites such as pizza and salads, and they’re preparing a wider set of choices for vegan and vegetarian customers. On tap, you can find everything from Guinness and Hoegaarden to cider and local craft beer. Along with an ample offering of wines, customers can also order an array of cocktails. Khalifa, who hails from France, explained that the mix of the Footnik’s clientele is about 30 percent foreign and 70 percent Japanese, and regular foreign customers hail from the UK, Ireland, Australia, the US, and many other countries. The bar is staffed by plenty of English speakers, and when it’s once again easy for people from around the world to visit Japan, they will be able to order at the Footnik with ease. Spending even a short time at the bar lets you know that it has managed to stay true to the spirit with which the owner opened it more than 20 years ago. Khalifa—who mentioned that he is looking forward to seeing even more foreign guests once the pandemic is over—says that the easygoing vibe is all part of the plan: “People are here because they like the atmosphere. It’s easy to come in, even on your own; grab a beer, and you can sit anywhere. It’s very relaxed and chill.”