In Tokyo, Irish spirit is always on tap
An Irish bar is a place that welcomes you to relax, says Neil Day, manager of Paddy Foleys, the cozy, famous wood-trimmed pub in the heart of Tokyo’s Roppongi district.
“People can come in and they can talk to anyone. They feel relaxed. That’s how it is back in Ireland,” Day said. “It’s not just about eating and drinking. It’s the Irish feel of a pub.”
Paddy’s is the original and most authentic Irish bar in the city, he says. It was the first to sell Ireland’s most favorite beverage, Guinness on tap, when it opened in 1995, he said.
“We broke the record for Guinness sales per square meter” at the time, Day added.
Today, Guinness is joined by many of Ireland’s famous brews, ales, cider and liquors. The menu serves up bangers and mash, meat pies and of course, fish and chips. A special Sunday Roast is available all weekend.
Paddy’s was also the first to broadcast live sports on TV, including rugby, cricket and soccer, Day said. During rugby games, the crowd spills out onto the front landing where an extra TV is set up. The pub sponsors several soccer and rugby teams in Tokyo.
But it’s the people, say those who work there, who help make Paddy’s special, and distinctively Irish.
“Some Irish pubs are just by name ‘Irish,’” said bartender “Shawn” Zeeshan. “You can meet a lot of Irish people here.”
Paddy’s also supports community groups, charities, fund-raisers and Irish events across the city, including this month’s St. Patrick’s Day parade in nearby Harajuku.
Through the Irish Network, which sponsors the parade, the pub will offer drink tickets to participants, including the U.S. Army Japan Band from Camp Zama.
Day said military members are always welcome; units from neighboring bases have held promotion parties at the pub in the past.
For St. Patrick’s Day, which will be celebrated over three days, the pub will feature live music and dancing, with performances by the Japanese Irish folk dancers, Celtic Spice, on Saturday and Sunday night.
Hundreds of people are expected on each of the three nights of events. The crowds fill every inch of the pub and the outside landing, notes Zeeshan: “St. Patrick’s Day is crazy.”
Location: Basement of the Roi Building, across from Don Quixote, between the McDonalds and Subway restaurants. Open: 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. on weekends until the last person leaves. Happy hour: weekdays 5 to 8 p.m.; weekends, 1 to 6 p.m. 03-3423-2250; www.paddyfoleystokyo.com