Japan is a cigarette smoker’s paradise. More than a quarter of the adult population is said to smoke and, unless specifically stated, smoking in restaurants and public places is widely permitted.
Yet while cigarettes are so popular here that you can even buy packs of them from vending machines on the street, there is virtually no tradition of hand-rolling tobacco, also known as shag.
However, this could start to change as “Japan’s first hand-rolled cigarette bar”, Smoke Friends House, opened in Shibuya earlier this month with the hope of adding a little refinement to Japan’s smoking culture.
We attended a special pre-opening reception event to get a first taste of shag and were quite impressed with the taste and depth of this gentleman’s tobacco.
And if that weren’t luxurious enough, at Smoke Friends House you can have your tobacco rolled and lit by sexy Japanese women!
The staff explained to us that shag is a living thing and the humidity and temperature inside the shop is regulated to preserve the freshness of the tobacco’s odor and taste.
The shelves are lined with an abundance of flavors, such as vanilla, mint, apple, mango and raspberry. In addition, all varieties are said to be completely natural and therefore emit less smoke than normal cigarettes.
Food and drink are also available for order so you can hold a glass of whisky in one hand while smoking your shag and reading The New Yorker. Indeed, the shop already promises to be a hit with smokers looking to enjoy a classy atmosphere and was brimming with dapper men on the day we visited.
■ Smoke Friends House
Location: Alcove 2F, 3-17-2 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo-to
Business Hours: 17:00 – 24:00