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Saigoneer Getaways: Exploring the Izakayas of Japan

“I always liked side-paths, little dark back-alleys behind the main road,” Dostoyevsky writes in his 1879 novel, The Brothers Karamazov. “There one finds adventures and surprises, and precious metal in the dirt.”

Though it’s a pretty far cry from 19th-century Russia, the narrow back alleys of Japan are evidence that Dostoyevsky’s musings hold a universal truth. Clear on the other side of the world, the Land of the Rising Sun boasts an entire network of small, local businesses built around this idea of serendipitous experiences and tiny, unexpected places.

Down the side streets and back alleys of Japan, the culture of izakayas – small, intimate watering holes, often helmed by a single barkeep – is alive and well. 


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