Photo: Pub The Swan

"Pub The Swan" in Sendai

Your cozy downtown Irish themed standing bar

Photo: Pub The Swan
By Justin Velgus    - 3 min read

"Pub The Swan" is an Irish themed standing bar located in downtown Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. The pub opened in May 2021 to replace the aging Sugawara Sakaten, a standing sake bar and tobacco dealer with a history dating back to 1895! The pub has the same friendly management and staff, but a fresh idea to attract new customers. While it would be hard to say this is a "must-visit" attraction, the location, staff, menu and atmosphere do make the pub an easy visit for both travelers and locals.

Pub The Swan (パブ ザ スワン) is located right across from Sendai's downtown Disney Store, a popular local meeting spot. With its large English sign, open windows, and first floor corner store front, it is impossible to miss while walking around the city's shopping arcades towards tree-lined Jozenji-dori Avenue. Like typical standing bars in Japan, there is no "otoshi" dish or entrance charge, so you can freely step right inside to view the menu. True to its theme, you'll be able to get your fill of Guinness and Kilkenny beers on tap, as well as fish & chips or shepherd's pie. Some whiskies are also available. In a delightful surprise, the pub also serves limited coffee, tea, and cakes.

One word of warning: smoking is allowed inside the cozy pub. The pub continues to sell cigarettes as a service to its patrons of many years. This is good news for smokers that are increasingly unable to find restaurants, bars, and cafes to smoke at in modern times. For non-smokers, you will be able to clearly see if there is anyone smoking through the large front windows before deciding to enter. Also, you can choose to drink/dine at the outside tables if you would like. The pub is well ventilated, so I did not notice any tobacco odor during my visit when no smokers were present.

Overall, the atmosphere is inviting and fun both in the afternoon and later evening (I am a regular). To start, friendly staff dressed in snazzy uniforms welcome each patron with a smile. The Irish theme means wood panels and counters accented with shiny brass. Some decorations are forced, like old time black-and-white reprint photos, while others like a collection of belt buckles and door knockers add some authentic personality. It is stylish without being too loud. Most customers are thirties to fifties, so don't expect wild nights or a pick-up bar. I felt relaxed, though that may have been the beer. This is a place to chill and destress, or pickup a conversation. It seems about 10 people can squeeze into the standing bar, and several others outside. If it isn't crowded, the staff will strike up a conversation with you in Japanese or limited English if you are the social type. Since this is not a "touristy" type of pub, almost all customers will be locals, most of which are Japanese people. So this is a great spot to interact with locals in a natural way.

Whether stopping by for a pint, or leisurely mixing with the locals round-after-round with food and snacks to fuel you, "Pub The Swan" is a neighborhood waterhole where you'll be sure to make both memories and friends.

Getting there

12-minute walk from JR Sendai Station, or 5-minute walk from Hirosedori subway station (Namboku Line).

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Justin Velgus

Justin Velgus @justin.velgus

Justin Velgus (ジャスティン ベルガス) is the Miyagi Prefecture Partner for Japan Travel and a longterm contributor since 2012 with a focus on the Tohoku region.  Justin has written extensively for JT, and other publications such as VisitMiyagi and Sake Today, amassing over 350 published articles introducing the travel and culture of the region. Justin's wealth of experience and knowledge comes from studying in Akita, teaching English in Miyagi through the JET Program, and promoting sake overseas for the government of Fukushima. Now Justin helps with inbound tourism and regional promotion while also enjoying his role as a volunteer tour guide in Sendai, the gyutan capital of the world.

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S 2 weeks ago
Good on the proprietors for revitalizing a century-old establishment. Is the food authentic? I could kill for a proper shepherd's pie!
Justin Velgus Author 2 weeks ago
I haven't tried the food yet, so can't comment. The longest running bar in Sendai is the Ha'Penny Bridge (no article--yet) behind Yodabashi Camera. Their food is really good, but I not all authentic. I don't think cheeseburgers are Irish!
Elena Lisina 2 weeks ago
Sounds nostalgic! In Sendai I stayed in a block from Disney store, and I miss visiting my friends in England. :( Sounds like a great place! :)
Justin Velgus Author 2 weeks ago
Wow, you were living right downtown, were't you. I am not sure a about other cities, but the Disney Store in Sendai is a favorite meeting spot--even though most people don't plan to go inside the store!
Kim 2 weeks ago
Fish and chips! This Aussie would go solely for that! 🐟 🍟
Justin Velgus Author 2 weeks ago
You got my mouth watering. I will need to visit again soon!
Bonson Lam 2 weeks ago
This would be my "go to" place in Sendai! I have lots of good memories at my local Irish Pub in Japan. I am sure this would be a hit.