Izakaya is the most common local establishment for casual drinking in Japan, similar to tapas bars.
Where you can enjoy drinking with your friends, colleagues after a long working day. Or simply experience local Japanese food. Most izakaya offer nomihoudai, which means all you can drink. This is a real steal deal for anyone who drinks a lot. As some local shops range from 300 yen per 30min to 2500 yen for a 2-hour course. You know when a drink ranges from 500 yen, it’s a good option to go.
Furthermore, izakaya is not just about drinking.
Shops usually selling food that do well with alcohol, and food that you can share with friends. Dishes in izakaya vary, from sashimi (raw fish), sushi to fried chicken, yakitori (chicken grill), french fries, ebi-mayo (fried shrimp with mayo), edamame, grilled fish, nabe (Japanese hotpot) and salads. Some owners are professional chefs with extraordinary cooking skills with a hidden talent. Take your time moving around small corners, you might hit gold.
How to have a local food experience?
You can find izakaya at any train station, most of them open at night time from 5 pm to 2 am.
Some of them will require you to put shoes in the locker, as the table will be on tatami. Do what locals do! Once you sit, the waiter/waitress will bring out oshibori (moist refreshment towels) and otoshi (appetizer). Let’s note that the otoshi is usually charged as seat charge or otōshidai (お通し代) or sekiryō (席料), and might also require one drink per person.
English menu is limited, but you can always point to the dish you like to try. All izakaya tents have picture menus, so don’t worry a lot. Get a beer, or nama (生ビール)!
When you go home, say “お会計お願いします” (okaikei onegai shimasu), they’ll bring the bill. Or just cross your point fingers of each hand together, they’ll know.
Happy drinking! And join our communities at Homii Japan!