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I read about Izakaya pubs in Japan where people socialize as they share the same table.

Can tourists and non Japanese people visit these places, or must one know the Japanese language to go there?

  • You can go there, don't expect to speak to Japanese people though. You'd be inconveniencing them and I'd be expecting them to come to you in order not to be rude. They are there to socialise, not teach Japanese. – insidesin Oct 26 '18 at 6:20
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    @insidesin why not write an answer instead of the two comments you've left. You're bypassing the voting controls. – Philbo Oct 26 '18 at 10:10
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    Sharing tables at izakaya is actually unusual. The general expectation is that you bring your own friends, not that you make new ones. – jpatokal Oct 26 '18 at 11:48
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Socializing is not limited to speaking the language.

It can help if you know some basic words and sentences to help you interact with the staff and table neighbors.

I see no problem you going in and enjoy yourself (and sometimes embarrass yourself by mis-communicating a little!)

  • There are many ways to engage people when trying to socialize; I'm not saying go in and be clueless about the situation. – Max Oct 26 '18 at 10:54
  • To reiterate my deleted comment. Socialising is impossible without speaking. No need to delete my comment, this answer is incorrect. – insidesin Oct 30 '18 at 0:06
  • I didn't delete anything. – Max Oct 30 '18 at 0:57
  • Yes. The moderators did. – insidesin Oct 30 '18 at 1:44
  • I didn't delete it either, but i agree that the comment "Socialising is impossible without speaking" is not really helpful. The question did not ask about socializing but rather if you can visit these places without speaking the native tongue and therefore this answer is correct. There is also a possibility that people can speek english or use google translate to communicate with you. – Daan van Hoek Nov 12 '18 at 10:15
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I go to izakayas all the time in Japan. I essentially speak no Japanese other than hello, water please, etc. They are great and wonderful places to eat and socialize. Whether or not you can read the menu or socialize with Japanese only speakers is another issue. I've even been in little izakayas in little mountain towns with absolutely zero English skills and I have no problems... again.. whether or not I can read the menu on the wall is another matter.

If you go to an establishment that does not allow foreigners such as a Kyabakura or Pinsaro, they will just make an X with their arms to let you know that it's Japanese only or say "Japanese only". For izakayas you will have no problem and you will be let in.

  • Thank you so much, this is very helpful. Can you also confirm if all Izakaya's have cover charge, if yes then whats the range of charge ? – Travelling Juggernaut Oct 26 '18 at 11:18
  • @TravellingJuggernaut Cover charges are very common, but typically no more than 500 yen. – jpatokal Oct 26 '18 at 11:47
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Yes. I've seen foreigners who don't speak the language having a great time in izakayas.

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You don't need to be local or japanese to socialize in japanese izakaya. However, it is convenient to bring someone who can speak for your orders.

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