Aizuwakamatsu City is well known for its rich history and its castle that played an important role in the Boshin Civil War. While the castle is a popular tourist destination during the day, you may find yourself trying to figure out what to do in the evening. A short distance from the castle is the downtown area with shops and boutiques selling local crafts such as the Aka-beko (a bobble-head cow and famous around Fukushima Prefecture) and hand-painted candles. As nighttime falls, restaurants and Japanese bars, called izakaya, beckon customers to unwind for the evening.
While I am a personal fan of the Japanese-style izakaya, which is known for providing private rooms for their guests to relax with each other, a western-style pub may be more suitable for some people. Although Aizuwakamatsu City generally boasts traditional Japanese food and atmosphere, I managed to stumble upon a western-style bar called Irish Bar Craic a while back. It is located slightly off the beaten path just off the main street, a wooden building with a large sign across the top that is hard to miss.
As you enter through the door, you will feel as if you stepped right out of Japan and into another country. Not only is the interior built to look western with spacious wooden tables, booths and a long counter at the bar, but the walls are crowded with Irish memorabilia. On the large flat screen TVs, a sports game will probably be playing.
Irish Bar Craic serves an array of western food and drinks. I was particularly happy with the selection of drinks, many of which I have trouble locating in Japan, including fancy cocktails. The menu prices were pretty average for western food found in Japan, and I didn't feel like I had wasted my money. The staff was also quite friendly and able to accommodate our off-menu drink requests. The food that we ordered was also great, and the whole atmosphere was very relaxing. It wasn't too busy, but there were other friendly patrons at the bar and tables who chatted with us.
I can't confirm whether the staff speaks English since we ordered in Japanese, but they do have English menus readily available. You can order more drinks by going up to the bar (which is unusual in a Japanese-style izakaya). However, I will say that while it is customary to pay drink by drink at a western-style bar, at Irish Bar Craic they generally put it on a tab to be paid as a table when you leave, although they did accommodate us when we specifically requested to pay when we ordered.
We had a great evening at Irish Bar Craic, and I look forward to visiting again in the near future. If you find yourself in downtown Aizuwakamatsu and are looking for a nice place to sit back, relax and enjoy chatting with locals while watching a sports game, visit Irish Bar Craic!