It is fine for the first time! Let me introduced you some appropriate behaviours for izakayas (Japanese style bar).
Many travellers been to izakayas in Japan felt ”the food was delicious with wide range of alcohol for selection. I will definitely go for second time”, ”it is a good opportunity to observe the life style of Japanese, very interesting”. However, there are some people who hasn't had chance to go izakaya due to “do not know what's the food inside” or ”izakaya sounds like need special technical order skills and rules which will be difficult to handle”. These extraordinary atmosphere might cuased of confused, so we would like to take this opportunity to introduce the basics in order for you to having a wonderful enjoyment in izakayas.
When entering the izakaya, the waiter or waitress will lead you to your seats and usually you will be given an “oshibori” to clean your hands. “oshibori” is wet towel. Cold wet towel will be provided in summer; and hot wet towel will be provided in cold winter for some high stardard izakayas.
After “oshibori”, the waiter or waitress will come and ask you for drinks you want to order. You will able to choose the drink from the menu on the table such as beer, sake(nihonshu), shochu and soft drinks. If the menu only has Japanese version, it will be a kind of challenge and fun to take the order by intuition. Even for Japanese, they might feel difficult to understand clearly about sake and nihonshu, therefore you might find your favorite drink based on following your own intuition.
After ordering the drinks, waiter or waitress might serve you an “otōshi” which is an appetizer about 500yen. Some consumers might feeling unhappy about the local custom with charged onto the bill, but please treat the phenomenon as service charge might help to understand.
Afterwards, the drinks will be serve on your table. Izakayas with better service will let customer choose two to three dishes before the drinks. After receiving the drinks, please use Japanese “Kanpai!!” for meaning for drink to toast.
Furthermore, if you would like order something more, you either rise up your hand or use the Japanese “Suimasen” in order to calling a waiter or a waitress. Normally, it takes two hours to enjoy the meal. There are also several ways to paying a bill by table or bring the receipt to casher. Although its a bit complicated, but there is always welcome to ask the waiters or waitresses.
In inzakaya, you will able to observe and found out it is a casual place for people after-work drinking to relsease the stress, welcome party, farewell party, as well as the meeting points for university students. Experiencing an izakaya when you are in Japan is not only a lovely place to have a drink with tastey food, also a cultural glimpse into the drinking and social scene of Japanese culture.