Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Our favorite Japanese people and the izakaya experience
Last night we had our last class with our adult students. We don't feel too bad leaving them because our friend Mike is going to continue the class so they'll be in good hands. We've been teaching them since last October and have gotten to know them well. These folks were so sweet to us. We feel lucky to have met and gotten on so well with them.
Pssst! We're not standing on chairs or anything; we're just actually more than a head taller than all the ladies.
After class John and I stopped by Yuki's, our favorite local izakaya (pub) in our town, for a beer. We realized afterwards that we were nonplussed by the 1600 yen bill (almost $20) for 2 pints and 2 little obligatory snacks they give you with them. We've gotten used to those prices but now that we're going home in less than 2 weeks, we realized it could be half that in Minneapolis. There's no tipping in Japan but it's still spendy. You see why we almost never go out here? Here are some snaps of the sake and shochu selections.
There's still smoking in bars and restaurants in Japan, which we've also grown accustomed to. It's like the 90s! The man (owner?) who served us was essentially a caricature of every white haired old guy from every random Japanese movie we've seen on bus rides and such. He smoked a cigarette and tried to act casual as he grilled us with questions and pointed out the pictures of foreigners on his wall. Classic.
One thing we don't love about Japanese bars and restaurants is that they're almost always sort of hidden away. They don't do outdoor seating, there are no windows usually and they often cover their doors with curtains. It's all kind of dark and enclosed and feels like a secret society (probably more so to us since we can't read signs). That said, when you do know and feel comfortable in a place (like us with Yuki's) it feels really cozy, familiar and nice. Especially the izakayas with tatami rooms where you take your shoes off and sit on the floor really evoke that feeling of being at home, but out. That's a pretty unique bar experience.