Nihonmatsu City is an often overlooked city in Fukushima Prefecture in the Tohoku area, easily accessible from bigger cities such as Koriyama City, Fukushima City, and Sendai City. This town boasts beautiful mountains and rice fields in the spring when the sun reflects off the water, and in the fall when the rice stalks fade to gold, ready to be harvested. During the day you can visit Nihonmatsu Castle - also known as Kasumigajo (霞ヶ城) - and the beautiful garden grounds around it, while at night you can enjoy some nightlife. Although there are a variety of options in Nihonmatsu City, I recommend Bar Dream.
This quaint little bar is owned by a family who also run a small, but fancy hand-made soba shop in a hot spring town about 30 minutes away from downtown. It is located within a few minutes walk from Nihonmatsu Station, down a side street.
Unlike many Japanese bars which have private rooms for their customers, Bar Dream is western-style with several seats at the bar and large tables for socializing with other patrons or with a large group of friends. Within the bar, there is also a separate room with a dart board. Across from the bar are two beautifully crafted wooden tables that can seat about 12 people.
In addition to the main room, there is another room in the back with two more tables of the same sturdy wooden stature and spacious seating. It is good for big groups or socializing among other bar guests. The bar is tastefully decorated with paintings, colorful liquor bottles and fresh flowers. It is like walking into someone's home and feeling very welcome.
If you want to socialize with some new people or the bartender, take a seat at one of the several chairs at the bar. Bar Dream offers an extensive selection of liquor, most of which is on display behind the bar. The bartender was familiar with a wide range of cocktails and seemed more than happy to fulfill any requests. Although the drinks at this bar might run a bit higher than some places, they are still reasonably priced, many costing around ￥600.They also serve food, including pizza, pasta and Japanese bar style food.
The bar is well attended to by the bartender, but the owner is also often found at her establishment, chatting with her customers. She is a sweet, middle-aged lady that makes sure her patrons are well taken care of and is well known for keeping her customers feeling safe. She has even helped me round up some friends who weren't quite ready to leave yet, and if another customer approaches us, she makes sure we are not being harassed.
When I visited with my friends, there were several other people in the bar and playing darts. Throughout the evening several other customers came and went, so it never felt lonely.