Terako Machi, Nagano, Japan

I first headed off to the Leffe Bar just after it opened and was the 2nd person there. I had a couple of beers but really wanted to head to a yakitori place that I’d walked past a couple of time.

I headed back towards the station and went into the restaurant for what would become one of my top 2 favorites evenings of my trip.

Terako Machi, Nagano, Japan

Walking in I was seated in the only spare seat at the counter in this small restaurant. There was probably 10 seats downstairs and a small area upstairs.

It soon became apparent that there was no English menu, and the staff didn’t speak any significant amount of English either. But I could see into the kitchen, I could see what the others were eating, and I had a decent mobile internet connection so I could use Google Translate.

With a certain amount of pointing to the translator on my phone and some pointing to other dishes I managed to find out that the only meat served was chicken – that was fine by me, I just needed to make sure I didn’t end up ordering anything, umm, dodgy.

I managed to order 5 sticks of chicken thigh yakitori and a draft beer. I was proud of myself!

I also managed to order some chicken breast yakitori. I patted myself on the back!

The locals were certainly amused at my antics and they were soon trying to talk to me using google translate on our phones. And we had what conversations we could.

And then they insisted I share their sake with them and they helped me order more food. The owner also shouted me a sake. I then bought some sake over the protests of my new friends for us to share.

What had started off as just popping in for a quick meal turned into a 3.5 hour experience of great food, sake and local hospitality.

As I left with one of my new friends I took him upto the bar I had been the night before, James Nagano Beer Market to repay his generosity for sharing his sake with me with a couple of beers.

A magnificent evening! And then staggered back to my hotel.