To All Alcohol Lovers: Introduction to Japanese Nightlife by Going to Izakaya

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To All Alcohol Lovers: Introduction to Japanese Nightlife by Going to Izakaya

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Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy.”― Frank Sinatra

This quote by one of the most popular American musicians of the 20th century can surely be sympathized by the drinking population in every country. Although there are many places in the world where you can have good alcohol, Izakaya is the most popular place where you can find your loving enemy in Japan.

All-you-can-drink “Nomihoudai”(飲み放題)


Nomihoudai(飲み放題)translated as “all you can drink” is a common option when going out for a drink, and is perhaps one of the first words that you should learn when staying in Japan.

You can drink as much as you want within the time limit, which is typically from 1 hour to 3 hours. The orders are restricted within the “Nomihoudai menu”, but most of them provides pretty good offerings including cocktail, beer, and wine.

Shoe lockers “Getabako” (下駄箱)


Take off your shoes and put them in the getabako (wooden shoe lockers) in the entrance. Some keys for the shoe locker looks like a plain wooden plate, so don’t forget to take them with you after you put in your shoe!

Toilet slippers


Japan’s quest for purity resides even in the toilet of Izakaya.

These slippers placed at the toilet entrance are worn only in the toilet, so you will have to switch from wearing indoor slippers to toilet slippers. Make sure not to wear the toilet slippers back to your table, especially when you’re drunk!

Small appetizers “Otoshi” for table charge(お通し)

otoushi-3The first meal you will order when you take your seat is otoshi, or appetizer. It is often used in place of a seating charge, and the staff will give you the “otoshi menu” before anything else.

Depending on where you go, the quality of otoshi will be totally different, so be careful! High quality otoshi such as broiled fish or meat and potato stew are delicious, but others like pickled vegetables or edamame (soy beans) have an ordinary taste.

Call button and touch panel


The call button to call the staff when ordering is quite common in Japanese Izakaya, but recently there are touch panels to order food and drinks as well! Some touch panels have multiple languages such as English and Chinese, so don’t worry if you can’t read Japanese. Also, when ordering alcohol, you will need to push the button “I am not under 20&driver”.



After having good Yakitori (grilled chicken), sashimi, and fried potatoes, and when you’re set to leave, ask for the bill by saying “Okaikei Onegaishimasu”. Making an X with your index fingers is also a sign for check, so keep that in mind too!


Hopefully, the mysteries of Izakaya have been solved after reading this article. Have all you can drink, and enjoy the menu variety offered at Izakaya!

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Born in Sydney, raised in Tokyo, fan of Hello! Project idols and loves kawaii culture.

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