In Japan many “special days” are determined by puns made by the dates. February 2nd (tsu-tsu, 2/2) is “Twintail Day”, May 10th (mei-do, the English month May plus the “do” reading of the Japanese character for 10, 十) is “Maid Day), and November 11th is “Pocky Day” (or Peppero Day if you’re in Korea). February 9th (2/9 can be read as “niku” for meat) or every 29th of the month is considered “Niku no Hi” (肉の日, “Meat Day”) and many restaurants known for their carnivorous menus, especially yakiniku restaurants will have special deals on that day.
Yakiniku（焼肉 or 焼き肉）, which translates to “grilled meat” is one of the most popular types of restaurants, and can be found all over Japan. While there are places which offer up high class gourmet cuts of meat, there are also much cheaper buffet-style or all-you-can-eat (食べ放題, tabehoudai) set prices. You can have a yakiniku home party if you own an electric grill and are pretty good at knowing where to get the best cuts of meat in your neighborhood but, since most people in the urban areas of Japan don’t have very big apartments, it’s much easier to go to a restaurant where they will have binchotan charcoal grills and ventilation systems to keep the table from getting too smoky. Some places will have storage places to put your belongings and jackets; please use them because if you don’t you will smell like yakiniku when you get on the train to go home!
AKB48 fans also know that former member Mayumi Uchida has IWA, her own yakiniku restaurants in Tokyo and Niigata. It’s like two birds with one stone! Eat meat and possibly see idols while listening to your favorite songs and surrounded by AKB48 memorabilia!
While some of you may be taken aback at a restaurant where you “cook your own food”, the point of yakiniku is being able to eat the meat exactly as you want it done. The setup with a grill on the table may look like a BBQ but, there’s no long wait for the meat to be ready. The cuts of meat are thinly sliced so they can cook fast and you can share everything with the rest of the table. Yakiniku is a meal you eat while cooking! Having to work with the rest of the table is a good opportunity to stir up conversation and get to know people better.
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