What I look forward to at the end of a long week at work is when I pass the red lit lantern and walk through the noren curtain into my local izakaya bar. Izakaya are traditional Japanese drinking establishments offering a menu of standard drink and a variety of homestyle dishes. After your first sip of cold beer you can order tasty sides like broiled fish, fried chicken karaage, and takowasa (wasabi and octopus). What I love about izakaya aside from the food and drinks is the welcoming atmosphere. The Okami (head woman and usually the owner) welcomes you and takes care of you like family. Lounging in the tatami rooms and having relaxing conversations with friends and strangers is great fun. Last night, I had a chance to visit a very rare izakaya in Utsunomiya. When you first walk in, it looks like any other with old enka songs playing in the background. However, once you settle in with drinks and food, the owner signals for someone named “fukuchan” to come in. Fukuchan is not a person, but a monkey in full costume here to greet us. The monkey danced, sat on our shoulders, and played with our hair.
The Izakaya is called Kayabuki and is well-known all over the country for the monkeys who hang out with the customers. The helpers bring towels to the customers and play with them as they drink; an exciting and entertaining izakaya experience.
Exploring the Traditions of Japan
Nama-beer and Monkeys at the Kayabuki Izakaya in Utsunomiya
31 Mar 2011
- Nama-beer and Monkeys at the Kayabuki Izakaya in Utsunomiya
- My Favorite Onsen in Japan: Tanaka-ya in Shiobara
- Homestyle Soba at Ouchijuku on the old Aizu-Nishi Kaido trail through Fukushima
- Plum blossom viewing at Kairakuen
- Kinoko maze-gohan: Healthy with hearty flavors.
- Welcoming the beginning of spring with homemade Kokedama Bonsai
- Shitamachi Adventure: Shibamata
- Setsubun: The last day of winter
- Kakizome: The first brush stroke of the year
- Dondo Yaki Fire Festival