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MISAWA, Japan — I love being the mother of a two year old. But the job isn’t compatible with happy hour unless you have a live-in nanny.

I don’t, but I hardly cared until I tasted a half-and-half at Paddy’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in Misawa. I’m hooked, completely, on the Guinness-Kilkenny combination, the first beer I’ve ever had with a shamrock outline in its tan froth. Throw in some Paddy’s chips (don’t call them fries, please) and that’s my idea of bliss.

But that’s not exactly what draws ’em in. Paddy’s patrons eat and drink, certainly, but they cite atmosphere as the best feature, seeing Paddy’s as a place where conversations don’t compete with pulsing speakers and entertainment doesn’t include barroom brawls.

“It’s not full of loud, drunk military people,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Billy Wright, hanging out at Paddy’s on a recent Saturday night listening to live jazz. “It’s an actual bar. The music is good. It’s a nice atmosphere.”

Americans from nearby Misawa Air Base — Paddy’s is about a two-minute walk from the main gate — keep the benches and stools warm and the beer fresh. Owner Kazuko Fukuda said not all pubs are able to offer both Guinness and Kilkenny on draft. Brewed in Dublin, the beer is shipped to Misawa in kegs from a distributor in Sapporo.

“It’s expensive and it has to be fresh,” said Fukuda. For quality, the beer has to be replenished every two to three days. Americans, she said, who love their draft beer and comprise about 60 to 70 percent of Paddy’s international clientele, help empty the kegs. Paddy’s also has Old Speckled Hen, Boddingtons, Japanese Kirin Ichiban lager and Blackthorn Cider on draft.

Fukuda opened Paddy’s in the spring of 2000 after spending four years in London. Her home is in Aomori, about an hour north of Misawa, but an acquaintance suggested a pub might thrive near the U.S. military base. To make her pub authentic — she says it’s a blend of Irish and British design — Fukuda spent 10 days in Dublin earning a certificate from Guinness in the Irish pub concept.

Airman 1st Class Gabriel Ulibarri said he heads to Paddy’s about once a month. He enjoys the live music — even the occasional bagpiper, he said.

“The atmosphere, it’s really relaxed. All the other (bars he knows of in downtown Misawa) are more like dance clubs,” he said. “I can come here and socialize.”

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

Paddy's Irish Pub

Hours: Open seven days a week, 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday closing time is 11 p.m.

Drink prices: Full pint 900 yen (about $7.50), medium pint 700 yen (about $5.90) and half pint 500 yen (about $4.21).

Cover: None

Food: Includes fish and chips, smoked salmon, beef stew, shepherd’s pie, fried onion and cheese rolls, sausage and chips, buckwheat noodle omelet (omusoba) and green soybeans (edamame).

Entertainment: Live music Friday or Saturday nights, including jazz, piano and flute, Irish. Live jazz night every second Thursday of the month.

Clientele: American, Japanese, French, British, Russian, Korean and Filipino.

Dress: Casual.

Location: Turn left at the first light outside Misawa Air Base’s main gate. Less than a block on the right.

Telephone: 0176-50-0070

Web site:

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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