Talk about sake
Beginning of Izakaya, Japanese barThe history of izakaya is said to begin from the early (Genroku era:1688-1704) to the middle of Edo period, around1716-1789. Before then, people used to buy sake in liquor stores and brought it back in a large pitcher for home drinking. One day, a sake shop in Kanda, Tokyo started offering its homemade tofu dengaku (tofu with miso glaze) together with sake and this became so popular that people queued up for it. Because the shop allowed customers to “stay (iru in Japanese) in sake shops (sakaya in Japanese) to drink sake”, it came to be called izakaya.
Focusing on this popularity, similar types of izakaya popped up in Edo city one after another. By the time of Kansei era (1789-1801) there appeared niuriya, shops selling simmered food like simmered vegetables, oden (Japanese hot pot dish) and appetizers. These shops became a place of relaxation for Edo people, just like those living alone or migrant workers, who stopped by with colleagues or friends on their way home from work. At this time, more and more stores put up rope curtains (nawa noren) at their entrances to keep the flies out and a rope curtain became a synonym for izakaya. After that, red paper lantern (akachochin) decorations also became popular. In those days, the standard set of tofu dish and 1 go (180ml) of sake was called yataichi (yata is another name for tofu and ichi means one), which, somehow came to mean izakaya and niuriya. Later on, the culture of eating out in Edo matured with the establishment of eating houses that served food and sake. Evolving little by little, this culture has led to what is now.