Shin Takahashi runs a natural wine bar and shop in Nihonbashi Kabutocho in a shared space with SR coffee and next door to craft beer bar Omnipollos. This is only the most recent bullet point on his list of wine-adjacent undertakings.
Shin is from Okazaki City, in central Japan’s Aichi prefecture. He grew up not being terribly interested in wine but things are now very different. This transition cannot be pinned down to one event, but several. Living in New Zealand and working at a down-to-earth bar is one. Moving back to Japan, becoming disillusioned with the “salaryman lifestyle” and consequently moving to Italy—inspired by a former Italian colleague—to study at the University of Gastronomic Sciences is another.
The final push, however, was likely interning for a natural wine distributor, “not only for the wine and food but to travel around the incredible country” while studying. He loved the community, lifestyle, and began to understand that wine is more than just a taste. He knew then that Japan was ready for his easygoing, wine-loving personality to start a natural wine venture.
Shin moved to Tokyo after his stint in Turin and set up an office and natural wine bottle shop in Koenji then soon after, Nakano. This was the birth of Human Nature. As well as opening the physical space, Shin also started doing pop-up events, including weddings, music festivals, and at the UNU Farmer’s Market on weekends—always with a clear bucket, plenty of ice, and his best selection of wines.
To expand his offerings, Shin invested in a three-wheeler “mobile wine stand” around 18 months ago. Both an easy way to go from shop to market in quick—well, at a max speed of 40km an hour—succession and it meant he could take his wine straight to nature to serve to friends, a place he believes wine was designed to be enjoyed.
“Natural wine is counterculture.” Shin says. “Everyone can enjoy natural wine together, even the distribution network consists of one large friend group.”
At Human Nature, Shin stocks a mix of Italian, French, Australian and any other wines he wants to share.
“A large portion of my wines are French but I stock a lot of Italian stuff too, and probably more than other shops do.” He also tries to offer wines that are hard to find elsewhere. If there is a really popular wine, he knows that it will sell well and draw customers, but he likes to give a voice to those that might otherwise be unnoticed.
“Our shop is in the part of the building that used to be the town’s iconic unagi restaurant loved by the people in this town for 70 years.” Shin at Human Nature and the surrounding shops are fast becoming the next generation community hub. So head there now and see why for yourself.