The best bar in the world is in Kyoto, Japan.
You cannot get directions to this bar. It can’t be found on the map. Someone who knows where it is must take you there.
Once you enter this bar, you are a regular. You are home. Everyone may not know your name, but if you found the place, you’re in.
There are four tables in this bar. Big, long tables made out of wood, like someone quartered a log cabin and built picnic tables out of it. You sit next to friends and strangers alike.
There is only one drink served in this bar: Yebisu beer. It comes in tall, 24-ounce bottles that you pour into your friends’ tiny cups after the bar’s owner opens the bottle by jamming the top down on a pair of chopsticks. Because of the small glasses and the ease of ordering and serving, it is easier to by a round of beers (i.e., one bottle of beer for the group) here than any other bar.
The owner of the bar is charismatic and a little odd. He may hug you when you arrive and when you leave. He may kiss you on the cheek. It’ll be a little weird. He has a daughter who sometimes drinks at the bar. She is quite possibly the most beautiful woman in Japan, and the least diminutive.
This is a bar where foreigners become fluent in Japanese after a few glasses of sake (which reminds me: you can also order sake here). This is a bar when you may enter the bathroom laughing so hard that you pee all over your pants at the urinal. This is a bar where your Japanese girlfriend reveals that she speaks English, and this is a bar where your friend will hit on you suggestively and you won’t even realize it until you bid her goodnight an hour later.
At this bar, you’ll feel like you’re on the show Friends. You’ll go there after big events or for no reason at all. You’ll break news to your friends at this bar. Everyone will feel like they’re on fire at this bar–every word, every joke perfectly timed.
This is a bar where you feel like you’re having the best time of your life, and you’ll know it. You’ll look around at your friends and the crazy bar owner and you’ll know it. You’ll know it then and you’ll know it when you go to any random American bar years later and realize that you’re living a good life, a blessed life, one of hot dates and Bud Selects and trustworthy friends.
And you’ll be grateful that even though you’ve moved on from that year in Japan, you’ll always have those times at the best bar in the world to look back upon.
That will never change.