Wednesday 30 September 2015

An Izakaya less normal: Utsunomiya's Monkey restaurant - Utsunomiya and Nikko Part 2

This is part 2 of a post about a recent trip to Utsunomiya and Nikko.  You can find part one here.

We rushed back to the hotel to get ready to go to the Monkey Izakaya (oh, the place does have an actual name, it is Kayabuki izakaya) and then went outside to catch a taxi there.  We told the taxi driver the name of the izakaya and he didn't know it.  I looked at him incredulously!  "How can you not know it?" I thought to myself.  "They have MONKEYS!!".  He had to call his depot to get an address as we didn't have one.  Why would we, we expected everyone to know the place.  I guess we were wrong!

We finally got there and walked in with massive anticipation.  The inside looked just like a regular neighbourhood izakaya.

The only things that suggested this was anything but an ordinary neighbourhood izakaya were the numerous newspaper and magazine clippings and signed name cards that are usually reserved for famous people that visit a restaurant.

The menu was only in Japanese but thanks to our own limited Japanese knowledge and the help of the kind Japanese man sitting behind us, we were able to read enough of it to order some food and drinks.  Pretty soon the food and drinks started arriving.

We realised straight away that the monkeys were not going to be bringing us our drinks as the mama san brought them out.  That was okay, we were excited that there was just going to be monkeys!

The first dish brought out was the dish they serve for the seating charge.  This is a common situation in Japan.  Izakayas usually serve an initial dish and charge a seating charge for it (usually in the vicinity of 300 - 600 yen).  The dish we were served up was incredibly soft and tender tuna sashimi.

Next to be brought out were some edamame (boiled salted soy beans),

some sausages on the bone,

catfish tempura,

cucumber and miso

and some nice, juicy, delicious fried chicken!

Just as we were about to leave disappointed the monkeys hadn't shown up, out they came!

The youngest one was about 3 months old and had been rescued from a river, abandoned by it's parents.

Now you would think that holding a monkey and a teddy bear would have put a huge grin on my face, but I was obviously having a very serious conversation about something with someone........

We then were asked to sit down and have some photos taken.  I will let those photos do the talking and show you the mayhem that followed!

Absolutely crazy fun!  We got into a cab and went back to the hotel extremely satisfied.  It was indeed a unique dining experience!

Well, that's the end of this second part.  Please leave a message below if you liked the post and check back again soon for the final part in this series of posts.



  1. Hello Jason...up to monkey business again.Although tamed monkeys are generally safe,they like to pull hair,bite etc.So I suppose there is a slight risk they may cause some problems like grabbing food out of your hand or dish.
    I can imagine this experience whilst entertaining, is fraught with danger.
    I saw one wild monkey in Mie ken,but never in a restaurant.One would think that the owners would face legal problems if you were bitten or caught rabies!
    Bye for now and perhaps you will get the chance to watch the AFL Grand Final.Westies beat the Eagles here..they had too much skill and speed...they waited 32 years for this.All the best...Noel.

    1. Hi Noel,
      one of the monkeys did give me a little nibble, nothing too bad and the skin wasn't broken, so all good! Luckily the owners wait until everyone has finished eating before bringing them out. I had read that they had started having problems with the monkeys taking food when the owner wasn't looking!
      I managed to catch a replay of the SANFL GF that the SANFL uploaded to their youtube channel. I am a long suffering Westies fan so this made me very happy. I remember watching the 1983 premiership on TV with my Dad and I watched the losing 1991 GF at Footy Park. I'll probably be working while the AFL GF is on, but I'm sure I'll be able to watch a replay somewhere.
      Take care Noel.