Have you ever heard the word Izakaya (居酒屋)?
In Japanese, “I(居)” means staying, “zaka (酒)” means Saké, and “ya(屋)” means shop.
That is to say, Izakaya is a casual place where you can eat, drink and stay long.
If you don’t have enough money but still want to eat and drink until you are satisfied, let’s go to Japanese Izakaya.
Because they offer drinks and foods in unassuming manner at reduced prices.
History of Izakaya
According to the most supported theory, Izakaya was born in Edo (today’s Tokyo) in the 17th century.
Originally, they were Saké shops (Saké-ya) which offered a place to stay and drink.
Gradually, they began to sell some simple snacks and then meals sufficient to fill their belly, together with Saké
But why was Edo the birthplace of Izakaya?
To answer this question, we have to understand the political and social systems under the Edo shogunate.
Under the Edo regime, feudal lords of each religion were obliged to stay in Edo every two years.
Generally, their stay in Edo lasted for about a year.
Of course, feudal lords didn’t stay in Edo alone. They accompanied many vassals, that is Samurai.
Different from the feudal lords who had their own wives in Edo (their wives were obliged to live in Edo as a kind of hostages for Shogunate), most of the vassals had to stay alone without family during their stay in Edo.
As is usual with Japanese men (in those days), they did not cook for themselves and therefore they had to find places to eat and drink.
On the other hand, Edo attracted men in the provinces who had no fields to inherit.
Because as a newly constructed capital, Edo offered them a lot of work.
However, many of them had to remain single for a long time. Because the ratio of women was quite low (less than 40%).
Consequently, as well as Samurais, they had to find places to eat and drink.
Who can miss such a big business chance?
In such a situation, some Saké shops began to offer simple meal with Saké and this style became very popular.
This is the beginning of Izakaya.
Not only commoners, but also Samurais were eager to be there.
Because at Izakaya, they could neglect all the formalities which Samurai had to respect in official drinkings.
The fact that they can eat and drink at moderate prices was also attractive for samurai who did not have enough pocket money, as well as today’s office workers (salary man).
Today, Izakaya is a casual after-work drinking establishment.
Evenings in Izakaya occupy an indispensable part of office workers’ life. Because you can drink and eat without putting on airs at reduced prices.
They offer various types of drinks such as Saké, wine, beer, and whisky.
Not only alcoholic drinks.
You can also find non-alcoholic drinks such as orange juice, grape juice, cola, and ginger ale.
Not only drinks.
They also offer a wide variety of filling dishes, such as specialty dishes from different parts of Japan.
Not only Japanese foods.
You can find cuisine from different countries such as Italy, Mexico, China and Korea. But watch out. Some foreign dishes are too integrated and adapted to Japanese taste.
Anyway, Izakaya is a not-to-be-missed place in Japan.
As well as Izakaya, a bar called tachi-nomi-ya is very popular in Japan.
It’s a “stand bar” in both name and reality.
Although we have to stay standing to drink there, it is popular for its price and open atmosphere.
All-500-yen bars and all-300-yen bars are among popular inexpensive stand bars.