New location. familiar vibe. The legendary bar is back in businesses.

Last year, Hiroshima suffered a double blow. First, the second incarnation of MAC Bar, a haven where the mixed crowd could shelve their worries over a quiet drink or sweat them out on a tiny, packed dance floor, closed a year ahead of its 40th anniversary when the building that housed it was pulled down. Then, just a couple of months later, the man behind the name, Masanori Kono, known to all as Mac, passed away.

A few days ago, after months of MAC regulars wandering the streets of Hiroshima at a loss, we started to see photos of the bar’s giant CD cabinets popping up on Facebook. These were followed by photos of wood covered walls that looked awfully familiar. Yes, Yuri and Boku had found a new location and the bar opened quietly on July 31.

MAC Bar door

The new bar, MAC Bar’s third incarnation, is located on the third floor of the suitably decrepit Borabora Building in Tatemachi, quite close to where the original bar on Kinzagai opened back in 1977. Walking into the new bar, where Yuri and Boku were still pulling things out of boxes, I was struck by how similar it looks to the previous location.

MAC Bar interior

The walls are covered in the same wood strips and the sound system stands against the back wall on a rack, complete with the cardboard boxes the equipment came in. The giant concertina CD cabinet is also there, behind the counter bar which now has a nice stainless steel top. Apparently, only about half of their stock of CDs have made it out of storage so far. Boku talks about installing a giant hard disk to boost the already formidable music collection, but he clearly has mixed feelings about selecting tracks with a mouse rather than plucking them from the shelves. Below the CDs, is a line of vinyl records with well worn covers and, in this quiet time, we were treated to some delightfully crackly sounds played on the record player.

The new bar looks more spacious than the previous place, but Yuri tells me that, in terms of meters square, it’s actually slightly smaller. Additions include a bank of lockers that look like they have come from a sento bathhouse and benches along the walls with soft bright red coverings that we imagine will end up being the resting place for many a weary (and pulsing) head on late weekend nights.

Early visitors have already christened the pristine walls with the first messages writ in marker pen that will eventually cover the the entire place. I was reminded about how strange MAC’s second location seemed when it opened. It was so clean. More than a few people wondered if it could recapture the grimy magic of the original dive bar. Of course, there was no need to worry. MAC is all about the heart of the people that run it and the people that love it. It was great to see Yuri and Boku enjoying the new space and imagining what it will become. I am sure, somewhere, Mac-san is smiling.

Address: 3F 3-4 Tatemachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima-ken
Address in Japanese: 広島県 広島市中区 立町 3-4

Paul Walsh

Paul arrived in Hiroshima "for a few months" back in 1996. He is the co-founder of and loves running in the mountains.