If you ask me how to integrate into the local life in Japan, I will recommend you to go to Yataimura.
When I first time went to Yataimura, I was working for bed and breakfast in Japan and a Korean girl brought me to there. On that day, we went to Sapporo Snow Festival till late, most of the stalls were closed. Then she suggested us to go to Otaru and go to Yataimura and find something to eat. That was the first time I heard of Yataimura. I didn’t have any concept about that, as long as there was food, it’s totally fine by me.
Soon, we arrived and I saw there are many stalls in front of me, they were all square in shape. The manager or the employees are standing aside, the seating was like a U-shape. it’s a seating design which is easily to interact with the customers.
(This is the Yatai in Okinawa. See how close the customers and the staffs are!)
That night, we chose a Yatai with Italian cuisine, we started talking with the boss once we sat down! Besides this Italian shop, in Yataimura, there were also Japanese food, skewers, bars, etc. you should be able to find your favorite one! Apart from interacting with the staffs, you can also interact with other customers. It’s so much fun that everyone is eating and chatting.
After the first experience in Yataimura, wherever I go, I will check if there is any Yataimura in that area.
The most unforgettable was in Kokusai Yataimura in Okinawa, where we met a handbag designer from Tokyo, a president of a brewery and many people from Okinawa and elsewhere; after leaving Okinawa, I went to Kagoshima and luckily, I met a local girl in Yataimura. That was the first time I went to Yataimura alone. It’s a little bit awkward at the beginning, but soon, I and the other customers start mingling. Perhaps, this is the magic of Yataimura!
I go to Yataimura for so many times. Sometimes, my friends ask me, “The food in Yataimura is so common, the pricing is almost the same, why it is a must to go to Yataimura.”
The answer is very simple. In Yataimura, you can get the delicious good, you can also have a real communication with the locals. In the small stall, people are not sitting like in a normal restaurant, talking with their own friends. In Yatai, you can sit next to the customers you don’t know. Under such atmosphere, you can easily chat with other people, especially they know that you are foreigner. They will start to chat with you because of their curiosity. It’s a cultural exchange with so much fun!
Can’t wait for experiencing it? Let’s get some information and mark it in your schedule!
The scale is relatively smaller than the other Yataimura, but it’s still very wonderful! Especially thisカフェ ダイニング レンガ立飲店 at the entrance, since it is a standing stall which can accommodate more people. Since it can accommodate more people, people are more intimate and easily mingle with each other! If you want to have rice, you can go to Taimu (多居夢), you must try the raw beef and tuna on rice, it’s so delicious!
The scale is larger and more variety of choice! I recommend the Kurobuta Yokocho (黒豚横丁) at the entrance. They serve the Kurobuta pot. You are right, Kurobuta is the Must Try food in Kagoshima. It’s just around 1,000 yen per person! Besides, Kagonoshima (籠ノ島) is also a good choice, they serve grilled food there. But the most interesting thing is that the boss is very talkative and he is very interested in talking with foreigners!
The above are the Yataimura I have visited before. You can also find other Yataimura in Osaka, Yamagata, Fukuoka, etc.
If you go to Japan, I highly recommend you to go to Yataimura at least once.
The Kokusai Yataimura is just opened this year, but it gains many extra points for my Okinawa trip! Perhaps, the people from Okinawa is very passionate, so the Yataimura here is so fun! The recommended stall are HAMMOCK andじゅんちゃん, you can have skewed kanji (kind of sea bird) here! You will be totally satisfied with what you have found here!