First opened in 1986, Fukuoka’s longest-running International Bar is a comfortable, unpretentious place with the same aim as when it opened: to introduce Japanese and international people to one another. International Bar is often the first port of call for newcomers to the city, and manager Klodian can give advice on everything from hotels to jobs and real estate while serving up a typically strong, smooth cocktail. International Bar’s also a useful introduction to Japanese drinking: it combines the retro entertainment machines, heavily stocked bar and private karaoke room of similar establishments with relaxed staff and a varied crowd of regulars and visitors. Very central (opposite Shopper’s Daiei), it’s not surprising that many tourists stumble on International Bar on their first visit, but it can still surprise: Albanian-Greek Klodian will play anything from J-Pop to Romanian, Greek and Arabic music depending on who’s in the bar. The karaoke room (complete with guitar) is free on weeknights and ¥2,000/hour Fri ~ Sat, and there’s a spacious lounge area for busy nights.
4F Urashima Bldg., 3-1-13 Tenjin Chuo-ku Fukuoka
Open: 18:30 ~ late
Closed: Jan 1
Menu: Draught (nama) beer ¥500, Cocktails ¥800, Whiskeys ¥700 ~ ¥800, Brandy ¥1,000, Vodka Red Bull ¥900, Karaoke room (weeknights free, Fri & Sat ¥2,000/hr)
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn128, Aug. 2009)