Without wanting to lean on lazy stereotypes, there is something about the Irish and drinking. Wherever I have been in the world, whether it be Gothenburg or Kathmandu, I have stumbled across an Irish bar. Nagoya is no different, and with St. Patrick’s Day coming up, it’s a good time to check one or two (or, if you can manage it, all) of them out. Here are just a few that you can head to in order to celebrate all things Ireland.
I briefly mentioned Pub Arco in last month’s post about where to spend Valentine’s Day in Nagoya, and in that post I said that it is my favorite pub in Japan. Owner Yoshi-san spent quite a bit of time in the Emerald Isle and the dark wood decor, his great English ability and the emphasis placed on sitting at the bar to chat with other locals reflects this. This isn’t the most raucous of pubs in town, but it is the best place to enjoy a beer or one of his many, many different whiskeys. For this year’s St Patrick’s Day festivities both Jameson’s and Guinness will be on discount. And if you see me in there propping up the bar, which is more than likely, please say ‘hi’!
Peat Irish Tavern, behind the Meieki Hub, is just about as ‘Oirish’ as it gets, and as well as the soft tinkling of diddlee-dee music playing overhead, there is more Irish paraphernalia on the walls than you can shake a shillelagh at. Seating options are between an open dining area replete with the heavy, gnarled wooden furniture you would expect of the Emerald Isle, or you can plonk yourself in one of the comfy armchairs in the snug, bringing to mind quiet nights of sipping whiskey with old friends.
The Curragh is another lovely little Irish bar, nestled away out of sight. Named after an area of Ireland that us renowned for breeding race horses, pub owner and racing enthusiast Teri-san is as welcoming a host as you could wish to find, and while their fish and chips is the best I have found in Japan, there is also a great mix of beers: from Brew Dog craft beers to Guinness and even Magners’ Irish Cider on draft. If you are looking for dark and late, The Curragh is underground and open until 4am. This year for St Patrick’s Day there will be live performances on March 19. Contact the bar for more details.
I first stumbled across Shamrock in Fushimi back in my earliest days of being in Nagoya, lost, trying to find my friends in the nearby Hub. That night I never bothered finding my friends and just stayed in Shamrock chatting to the staff, having a whale of a time. Shamrock is still a good craic, and put on occasional events, including performances by local Irish troubadour legend Brian Cullen. If you want the full experience, try their Irish dinner course of Irish soda bread, fish and chips, Irish mussels in white wine, cottage pie, cold cut meat and others for just 2,500 JPY. Throughout the St. Patrick’s Day weekend you can get a Guinness or a Kilkenny for 700 JPY, and there will be live Irish music performances on the 17th from 19:00 and the 19th from 17:00.
While not strictly an Irish bar, as a Commonwealth pub, and having a harp in their eponymous coat of arms I suppose it just squeaks in under the wire. Which is a good thing too, because CoA is a pretty decent bar, something of a hangout for the JIS and More Than Relo crews. If you are after the Irishness, they have Kilkenny Irish Cream on tap, and in the week leading up to St. Patrick’s Day they will be celebrating their 4th anniversary so there will be loads of events coming up including a party on March 10 with 3,000 JPY unlimited all you can eat and drink. Then, from the 14th to the 19th Jameson’s is just 500 JPY and Shepherds Pie will be on special.
Some of you may be considering heading over to Coopers in Meieki for St. Patrick’s Day, but don’t. Not because it isn’t a great pub, but simply that it closed down recently, which is a shame because it was my first local pub in Nagoya. So this is just a public service announcement, and a recommendation that you try the other places above instead.
By Mark Guthrie
Image by https://www.bar-and-restaurant.com/photos/S10737/large1.jpg (modified)