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Different Atmospheres and Different Services for Different Folks

[lssue:2006/02/15]

Experiencing Japanese food culture does not involve just exposing yourself to different dishes but includes different atmospheres and services.

 

For the newbie it might begin with the simple experience of sitting at a horigotatsu at an izakaya (Japanese style bar) where seating is on the floor with sunken areas beneath the tables for legroom. This would be the best way to get a quick glimpse of Japanese food culture in modern Japan for a reasonable price.

For those who might want to invest a bit more, they would perhaps want to try kaiseki-ryori, which is a multi-course meal of traditional Japanese seasonal cuisine. The private rooms at ryotei (high-class traditional Japanese restaurant) where kaiseki are usually served will definitely be an expensive, but very dense, trip into traditional Japanese food culture. If you are interested in going one step further, finding a place to eat with a public hot spring might also be a unique experience.

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For those who would rather step into more everyday Japanese food culture, a trip to a tabehodai or nomihodai (all-you-can eat or drink) restaurant or bar may be a good choice. You will get a chance to taste different foods and drinks while being exposed to unique tabehodai or nomihodai services such as karaoke, bowling, live music or shows, fortune-telling, darts, pool, igo (traditional board game), etc.

 

There are also pet or kid-friendly restaurants, restaurants with health conscious menus for the elderly, non-smoking bars, restaurants with private rooms of various styles, services and specials for birthdays or other seasonal events, and everything in between.  Like a restaurant serving high quality wine will have a sommelier, there are now even places that have experts on vegetables, beer, etc., who will pick the perfect combination for you based on your mood or tastes. It might also be good to do a little research beforehand for those who still feel a language barrier and find places that have employees who speak your language or have menus in your language.





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