I get this means “drinking while standing”, but I feel like there must be some additional cultural context to this; it seems like an oddly specific word and all. Any insights?
Yep, there are quite a few bars/restaurants in Japan (often in train stations) that don’t have chairs or seating areas, only raised tables. Usually cheaper and for those on the go.
Reference (other than seeing it myself): https://gurunavi.com/en/japanfoodie/s/2016/05/Tachinomi.html?ngt=TT0d366d1cc006ac1e4aed81aH4JYD_sw1hIrKNqiQodg3
The cultural context is that Japanese people typically sit and eat while drinking. That is why there is a special word for standing and drinking.
People sometimes stand beside vending machines and drink their purchased item as it can be considered impolite to eat or drink while walking. The implication is if you are walking you aren’t fully appreciating your drink.
Bartender here commenting also.
I’ve mostly seen this attached to minuscule bars’ names. Like @libgray mentioned, it’s a type of restaurant/bar, where customers stand by the counter drinking. These places are usually very small - I used to pass by a neighborhood 立ち飲み with room for maybe 8-10 customers maximum.
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