Friendly atmosphere, laughter, delicious food and alcohol make up an izakaya. An izakaya is a Japanese style bar – a place where you can enjoy food and alcohol with your friends or strangers.
In Japan, there are many of those located around train stations and in downtown areas.
In terms of enjoying food and alcohol at the same time, some of you might think of pub or bar, but what Japanese people call izakaya is slightly different.
First, izakaya serves the same amount of food on the menu as restaurants do.
Beside the typical bar food which you can order at almost all kinds of izakaya places, each one has distinguishing menus that match with an atmosphere, trends and seasons.
For example, one izakaya place provides fresh seafood as its specialty and by contrast, another place serves barbecue meat or iron plate cuisines.
The picture of food shown above is from one of the izakaya places in Tokyo.
I had a part time job there for a year before I came to the U.S. three years ago.
They mainly serve iron plate cuisines as well as a wide variety of alcohol including sake, shochu (different kind of sake distilled from sweet potatoes, rice, buckwheat and so on) whiskey, vodka and more.
At the izakaya I used to work, there are three floors, and each of them has a completely different atmosphere.
The first floor only has seats at the bar counter, which allows you to talk with bartenders and even with strangers. You can also see people cooking on a huge iron plate right in front of you.
Pictured right is the second floor. The second and third floor have a similar friendly atmosphere where you can hang out with your friends.
But, for the third floor designed for a larger group, you need to take off your shoes, which is one of the Japanese customs, and enjoy food and alcohol in a comfortable position.
This is just a random example of izakaya in Japan. Each place has its own style to provide a memorable time for the customers.
If you ever get a chance to visit Japan in the future, I highly recommend to go out for dinner and drinks at an izakaya.