Izakaya are Japanese-style pubs offering affordable drinks and great food in a relaxed, lively atmosphere. Some izakaya offer all-you-can-drink options or ‘nomihodai,’ as well as a wide variety of dining options.
Like their after-work revelry cousin, the karaoke room, izakaya are often found clustered together around city train stations. If you find yourself in an izakaya that doesn’t have an English or pictorial menu, don’t hesitate to ask nearby diners for suggestions – making new friends is what izakaya are all about!
Once you’re ready to order, simply get your waiter’s attention with a friendly “onegai shimasu!” or by ringing a buzzer at your table. Don’t forget to order a number of dishes, as portions are relatively small and ideal for sharing between a round of drinks. Evenings spent at an izakaya are supposed to be long and low-key, so if you’re looking for a quick bite, you might wish to save your izakaya experience.
Nowadays, specialist izakaya that focus on certain dishes are quite popular as well as cosplay izakaya, complete with costumed waitstaff. To experience an izakaya is to get a glimpse of everyday Japan, where you can meet locals and learn a little more about their Japan.