Morrigan’s Irish Pub owner Kayoko Kuroda decided she wanted to bring a touch o’ the Irish to Yokosuka after visiting Japan’s first Irish pub in Tokyo.

Morrigan’s Irish Pub owner Kayoko Kuroda decided she wanted to bring a touch o’ the Irish to Yokosuka after visiting Japan’s first Irish pub in Tokyo. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

YOKOSUKA, Japan — Soccer. The world. The meaning of life. How to order more than one Guinness without sounding strange (Guinneii?) or stammering drunk (Guinesses?).

All these are points to ponder over a pint at The Morrigan’s Irish Pub. Wooden and cozy, the place welcomes conversation of any persuasion. Just belly up to the bar and start yammering.

“We talk about friends, money, the meaning of life,” says Mina Kanasugi, her eyes darting from me to the television screen. The graphic artist’s favorite Japanese soccer team is playing. She punctuates our chat with yells and occasional fist-shaking at the tube, then dips back into the pleasant conversation among the strangers sitting there.

This is Tuesday night at Morrigan’s. It’s pubby — right down to the claddagh on the wall and the Irish stew on the menu - but don’t expect to hear a lick o’ the brogue. You'll find the place comfortably crowded with Americans and Japanese chatting and wiping at creamy Guinness moustaches.

Truth to be told, owner Kayoko Kuroda didn’t know what an Irish pub was until a Guinness salesman took her to one in Roppongi. She was smitten on sight, she said.

“I liked the feeling in there,” Kuroda said.

So she and her daughter opened The Morrigan’s on March 12, 1998, a week before St. Patrick’s Day. At the time, Morrigan’s was the only place in Yokosuka serving draft Guinness, plus Kilkenny and Bass.

There’s also a goodly amount of Irish whiskey behind the bar. Soak it up with some stick-to-your-ribs Irish fare, including fish and chips, potato cakes and beef-and-Guinness stew.

Photos of smiling customers line the walls and fill albums. Morrigan’s has 10 inter-customer marriages to its credit. Regulars hop up and wash glasses when the bartender is swamped.

In return, Morrigan’s runs a number of specials, including cheap drink night on the 15th of every month, special occasion parties and punch cards so customers can earn Morrigan’s merchandise.

Masaru “Masa” Kagamishima was a Morrigan’s regular before Kuroda relocated him to the working side of the bar. Identifiable by the Rolling Stones lips and Grateful Dead dancing bears on his apron, Masa is the bar’s “music director” and keeps it rocking with the likes of Flogging Molly, Bruce Springsteen, U2, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits.

The only type of tunes Masa doesn't like is traditional Irish music — Ah, the aye-rony.

“It’s boring,” Masa says, but he'll play it anyway for the patrons, for Morrigan’s is a special place among bars, he says.

“Good beer, good music, good friends — these are the three ingredients to a good evening.”

As always, if you drink, do so responsibly. Don't drink and drive.

The Morrigan’s Irish Pub

Yokosuka, Japan

Rating: Six Guinesses (Guineii?) out of a six-pack

Drink prices: Beers and drinks are 800 yen, except during happy hour (100 yen off everything except soft drinks between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m) and the 15th of the month (500 yen).

Food: Traditional Irish fare, including stew, fish and chips

Entertainment: Friendly conversation, rockin’ music

Clientele: About 60/40 American/Japanese

Dress code: None, except on Christmas, when you dress swanky, and the summer fireworks party, when you come in yukata

Business hours: 4 p.m. to midnight weekdays. Weekend hours are 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Address: 1-2 Honcho, Yokosuka, Japan

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