■ The original meaning of 赤提灯 is a red lantern, traditionally made of paper pasted to a frame of thin bamboo hoops. It can also refer to an informal drinking establishment that is decorated on the outside with red lanterns. Both the lanterns and the bars are a common sight in Japanese cities and towns, especially in back alleys in the entertainment and business districts around train stations. 赤提灯 bars typically serve snacks as well as a variety of alcoholic beverages. 赤提灯 are known for their casual atmosphere and reasonable prices.
赤提灯 is also pronounced あかぢょうちん, and it is sometimes written with the older kanji: 赤提燈. The word 提灯（ちょうちん） means a paper- or cloth-covered lantern of any color.
a cheap bar on a narrow side street
I gulped down a quick drink at a bar and then went home.
サラリーマンになったら、ネクタイ・ワイシャツ・背広に革靴履いて満員電車に揺られて会社に行き、仕事が終われば赤提灯で一杯やって、仕事の愚痴をたれるんだと思ってました。 (Web, June 2000)
I thought that when I became a salaryman I would wear a tie, business shirt, suit, and leather shoes, ride a jam-packed train to the office, and, when work was over, have a drink at a cheap bar and complain about my job.
赤提灯 in both senses appear in this photograph. The large lantern on the left says 居酒屋（いざかや）, another word for an inexpensive bar. This particular 赤提灯 bar advertises 「食べ物、飲み物、全品２９８円均一」, "All food and drinks 298 yen each," a quite reasonable price for June 2000, when the picture was taken in Tokyo. The next bar to the right has a lantern reading やきとり, meaning that it serves roasted fowl in addition to drinks, and the one to the right of that says 立呑み（たちのみ）, indicating that the customers must stand as they imbibe.
This entry was created by Tom Gally and Hiroshi Hasebe, with additional contributions by Emily Shibata-Sato.