Japanese Izakaya Bars: A Friendly Drinking Experience

Do you know the meaning of Izakaya? Have you ever heard of traditional Japanese bars? In this article, we are going to talk all about these small bars that are family and home businesses, used as a meeting point for friends.

What are Izakaya?

After a long day at work, to gather the family or even to have a drink with friends, Izakayas [居酒屋] are a great request. Izakayas are taverns or bars, which have a very comfortable and friendly atmosphere. 

They serve a great and varied variety of dishes and drinks. Currently, these homemade bars have expanded and come in all sizes, but the focus is still have fun and relax people with simple and cheap drinks and dishes.

There are believed to be over one and a half million Izakayas scattered across Japan. You can find an izakaya anywhere in Japan, from small towns to busy streets. They are also very popular around train and subway stations.

Izakaya - the spot of Japanese nightlife.

Even though bars are mostly remembered for clutter, drunk people and too much noise, izakayas are different. They were inspired by tea houses from the Edo period of Japan. In the 17th century these houses began to sell sake and make simple dishes. Which became very popular at the time.

The word Izakaya is formed by the characters [居酒屋] which means something like pub that serves dishes and snacks. The word has the character of [居] which means residence, [酒] which means sake and [屋] which represents shop or sale.

The main aspect that unites all the Izakayas is that they are all places casual, made for relaxation and relaxation with plenty of common drinks and food. But the classic traditions and roots and Japanese ingredients always remain faithful.

Izakaya - the spot of Japanese nightlife.

What can be found in an Izakaya

You can find a huge variety of dishes. The most common are sashimi, fried chicken, grilled rice balls, Edamame, gyoza between others. The most requested are the yakitori, which are pieces of chicken grilled on bamboo skewers. And also the oden, which are potatoes, vegetables, octopus and eggs boiled in a broth. Some Izakayas specialize in seafood.

These dishes are mainly served as an accompaniment to sake and beers in general. The drink menu is just as well done as the food menu. The Japanese beer called shochu has a lot of prominence.

This drink is usually distilled from sweet potato, barley, rice, wheat or brown sugar. Such drinks are often taken straight, mixed with water, fruit juice and even tea. But of course soft drinks are also served.

Izakaya - the spot of Japanese nightlife.

Often the customer receives a wet towel called oshibori to clean your hands. And soon after a otoshi, which are small portions of appetizers. The menus can be found from on the tables to hanging on the walls and ceiling.

Dishes are usually shared with everyone at the table. Traditionally in the beginning, izakayas were very simple and attended only by men. But nowadays more and more women and students gather in these places.

The Izakayas are very successful among the Japanese and all the tourists who visit them. Standing out for its exciting and welcoming atmosphere and traditional and warm services. Ever had the chance to visit an Izakaya? What is your experience?

Izakaya - the friendly bars of Japan
Photo we took in an Izakaya

My Experience at an Izakaya

I went to Izakaya for the first time in the Izu region of Ito city. At the first Izakaya I went to, we had a Sake where he poured it into a glass that was inside another wooden container, filling both containers.

Then we went to a Snack Bar and sang a couple of songs in the Karaoke and then we went to another Izakaya top, much more familiar, where we talked a lot with the owner and even took pictures of them. That day was an amazing experience while staying at K's.

Of course, during the trip we went to several other restaurants that served drinks, mainly some of German beer and also the Sapporo factory in Hokkaido. I also went to Izakaya in Tokyo and ate Yakitori.

Izakaya - the friendly bars of Japan

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