When you live in Japan, you will often hear about the place called izakaya. Your Japanese colleagues at work or your friends outside may bring it up and may even invite you to visit one.
An izakaya or 居酒屋 is a Japanese-style pub, and the word itself in Kanji literally means “stay”, “alcohol”, and “room”. In that sense, it is a place where people can socialize and simply have snacks, food, and drinks.
A good friend of mine brought me to an izakaya on my last night in Tokyo during my recent visit. It took us a long time to choose which one to settle in because there are a variety to choose from.
There are different kinds of izakaya in Tokyo, and here are some of the best ones you can visit with your friends.
Shirokiya, or the House of White Wood, is an izakaya chain that is famous for its relaxing and tranquil atmosphere. The place is popular among women, but men are welcome too. You can visit its branch near the Yaesu Central Exit of the JR Tokyo Station. Did you know that it opened its first branch in 1983? That original branch is located in front of the South Exit of the Nakano Station in Tokyo.
Average Price: 2,300 JPY
If you fancy a classic izakaya feel, check out Kushiroya, located a five-minute walk from Shibuya Station. This homey izakaya offers Hokkaido-inspired dishes that will surely satisfy your cravings, including the must-try Kaburitsuki spring chicken and Hokke, or mackerel.
Average Price: 3,500 JPY
If you love grilled chicken sticks in particular, then the Torikizoku izakaya is for you. The name in itself literally means “chicken aristocracy”, and the izakaya’s menu specializes in chicken yakitori, and its specialty is Kizoku Yaki. The izakaya is a 3-minute walk from the JR Shinjuku Station East Exit.
Average Price: 2,000 JPY
If you want a place that will satisfy your inner punk and rock star with a selection of good sake and beer, make sure to visit this cozy, punk rock-inspired izakaya in the Daikanyama neighborhood of Shibuya. They often have live music shows that you can enjoy while eating and drinking.
Average Price: 1,000 JPY
Another izakaya not far from the JR Shibuya Station’s South Exit is a place for both locals and tourists. Kin-no-Kura Jr. is considered one of the highest-profile izakaya chains in Tokyo.
Average Price: 2,000 JPY
Another classic izakaya awaits you in downtown Yurakucho. The place specializes in offering a delicious seafood experience.
Average Price: 4,000 JPY
If you like a more refined version of izakaya, sans the noise and bustle, you might want to check out the branches of the Watami chain of izakaya. Some convenient locations to check out are those in Shinjuku, Shibuya and Nihombashi.
Average Price: 2,400 JPY
Now that you have your list of izakaya to check out, find a friend you can tag along. You can also go alone, but an izakaya is a place to interact and engage with your friends or colleagues, too. You may want to take advantage of this opportunity to socialize in a cozy and fun izakaya setting.
And before going out, you might also want to refresh yourself on some of the Japanese phrases you must know in visiting an izakaya. Have a good time!