You can find places to eat and also places to drink everywhere. Izakaya is however, something in between. A casual but very popular place for Japanese people to go to after work. A place to relax, drink and have some inexpensive food with their co-workers and friends.
The word Izakaya is derived from “i” (to stay) and “sakaya” (sake shop). And this also explains the origin of Izakaya bars. They were originally sake shops that allowed customers to stay and drink inside.
Sometimes an Izakaya is also called Akachochin (red lantern) because of the red colored paper lanterns that can be found at the entrance of some of them.
Where can you find one? Izakaya are everywhere, especially near train and subway stations. You will not have problems finding one. The menus are usually kept on the tables or written on the walls. It’s usually in Japanese but some have menus in English or with photos. It’s a nice place to strike up a conversation with total strangers and ask for help with your order if you have problems.
Izakayas serve all sorts of food; especially those traditional Japanese dishes that go well with beer and sake. The food is usually designed to be shared. You can get Yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), Kushiyaki (grilled meat or vegetable skewers), Sashimi (slices of raw fish), Karaage (bite-sized fried chicken), Edamame (boiled and salted soybean pods), Hiyayakko (chilled silken tofu), Agedashi tofu (deep fried tofu in broth) and Tsukemono (pickles) to name a few.
Please enjoy in an Izakaya if you come to Japan~!