Easy Japanese for Izakayas


By Asuka Naito
September 11, 2013

After a long stressful day, office workers in Japan love to wind down by drinking at an izakaya, a traditional Japanese style pub. So, if you want to entertain your friends and colleagues in town, the ability to order drinks at an izakaya is an essential skill.

Izakaya by Ari Helminen cropped
Unfortunately, doing this in Japanese is no easy task. However, by learning the following easy phrases, you’ll be able to order anything you want and at the same time, impress your Japanese friends.

First of all, if there is no menu, call the waiter or waitress and say:

すみません、メニューお願いします。 (Sumimasen, menu onegaishimasu.)

Excuse me, may I have the menu please?

When you are ready to order, your server will typically ask you to order drinks first. For example they might say:

まずお飲物からご注文を承ります。 (Mazu onomimono kara gochuumon uketamawarimasu.)

Would you like to order drinks first?

Then turn round to your friends and ask them what they might like to drink. A casual way of asking people what they would like to drink is:

ビール飲むひと? (Biiru nomu hito?)

Who’s drinking beer?

ワイン飲む人? (Wine nomu hito?)

Who’s drinking wine?

Izakaya 2 by Ari Helminen cropped

Top tip: It’s pretty easy to order most western alcoholic beverages as you can use the English name with a Japanese katakana accent. See the list of drinks below to get an idea.

Now that you have an idea of what people want to drink, you can place your order. For example:

ビールを一つお願いします。 (Biiru o hitotsu onegaishimasu.)

One beer, please.

ワインを二つお願いします。 (Wine o futatsu onegaishimasu.)

Two (glasses) of wine, please.

日本酒を三つお願いします。 (Nihonshu o mittsu onegaishimasu.)

Three (bottles) of sake, please.

ウイスキーを四つお願いします。 (Whiskey o yotsu onegaishimasu.)

Four (glasses) of whiskey, please.

お水を五つお願いします。 (Omizu o itsutsu onegaishimasu.)

Five (glasses) of water, please.

Finally, your server will probably say:

はい、承りました。 (Hai, uketamawarimashita.)

Certainly. (Literally: I have taken your order.)

Izakaya by Hikosaemon cropped

One last very casual but extremely useful and natural phrase is:

とりあえず。 (Toriaezu.)

This is used to say, “for now.”

After you order drinks and a couple of menus, this word can be used to “see how people feel.” So by using this word, we can order the most popular drink in Japan, beer on tap.

とりあえず、生ください。 (Toriaezu, nama kudasai.)

Just beers for now, please.

So learn these phrases well and enjoy a night out impressing the socks of your Japanese friends and coworkers with your newly learned skills for ordering drinks at an izakaya.


For more useful Japanese learning materials, including PDF cheat sheets and podcasts, please visit Learn Japanese Pod

Photos by Ari Helminen and Hikosaemon.


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