In the bustling streets of Tokyo, amidst the neon lights and skyscrapers, there exists a hidden gem that transports you across continents and cultures. Tucked away in the heart of this vibrant metropolis is the Good Ole Tennessee Bar, a haven for those seeking a slice of Southern hospitality in Japan’s biggest city.

Yoshitoshi Momoki, a Japanese native who graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1993 with a broadcasting degree, is the mastermind behind the Good Ole Tennessee Bar, which opened on February 14, 2024.

“My time at UT was truly a Golden Age to me, especially the experiences I later found was Southern hospitality, and I really wanted to share that with as many Japanese people as possible, along with the hidden gems of the state and the strong, long-lasting economic ties between Tennessee and Japan,” said Momoki.

As of May 2024, Japanese-based companies have invested $20.5 billion in Tennessee, making Japan the state’s top country for foreign direct investment. These companies include Kewpie, Bridgestone, Toyota, Denso Manufacturing and more.

When you enter the Good Ole Tennessee Bar, you’re immediately greeted by a neon “Welcome Y’all” sign and a replica of the iconic “I Will Give My All for Tennessee Today” poster.

“Anybody who knows UT football can understand how important it is to touch the décor to make a pledge like the Vols players do going out to the field,” explained Momoki.

The bar’s ambiance is unmistakably Southern with décor that pays homage to its Tennessee roots – from Elvis Presley and Tina Turner photos to Vols and Titans memorabilia. You can even indulge in Tennessee whiskey or a chili-cheese dog comparable to those sold at Neyland Stadium while listening to classic country music from Knoxville’s historic FM station, 107.7 WIVK.

Beyond the food and drink, what truly sets the Good Ole Tennessee Bar apart is its sense of community. Despite being thousands of miles away from the Volunteer State, patrons from all walks of life come together to share stories. It’s a place where strangers become friends, and where the boundaries between cultures blur together.

According to Momoki, the extent of people’s knowledge about Tennessee in Japan is limited to the Tennessee Waltz, Elvis Presley and Jack Daniel’s, but he hopes his bar can play a part in closing the gap.

Momoki has big plans for the Good Ole Tennessee Bar’s future. He hopes to create a larger cooking space that allows him to serve authentic Southern foods, such as hot chicken and BBQ. He would also like to sell bar-related merchandise and Tennessee-made products. Lastly, he hopes to create a small stage where country and bluegrass musicians can perform.

The Good Ole Tennessee Bar serves as a reminder that no matter where you are in the world, there’s always a little piece of home waiting to be found. So, the next time you find yourself craving a taste of Tennessee in the heart of Tokyo, look no further than this charming oasis of Southern hospitality. Y’all won’t be disappointed.

To learn more about the Good Ole Tennessee Bar, check out its Instagram account here.

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