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Upscale Tokyo eateries may be garnering Michelin stars of late, but they are hardly a mainstay of the nation’s food culture. The average Japanese is more likely to be found in a traditional “izakaya” (pub) than in a high-end sushi bar or “kaiseki” (haute cuisine) restaurant.

Izakaya are friendly pubs that serve a wide range of inexpensive, small-plate dishes along with a variety of drinks, and are a frequent gathering place for colleagues after work or friends looking to spend a pleasant evening together.

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