Ah izakaiya's. The bars where you can eat tasty kara'age. Many people recommend going out and drinking your way to fluency. But I don't find them useuful cause:
1: You have to spend at least thirty minutes explaining the same things each time. Where you're from, what you do, if you have a girlfriend; which leads us to the next couple points.
2: Getting the crude questions about your girlfriend, and then having to explain that Americans don't do crude questions.
3: Getting offers for drinks. I just say I'm driving, since it is a lot easier for them to understand.
4:The sad realization that Japanese people don't do language questions. Part of it is no doubt my lack of fluency, but really, Japanese people just don't think about grammar. Try mentioning the 形容詞 form and watch their eyes glaze over.
Which brings me to my next point...
5: The guys that spend their time at an izakaya are not the brightest group, especially in the inaka. Recently I've run into a guy that could not read the kanji on a bottle (I was trying to confirm the reading of 古酒). Last night, a guy forgot the character for "ハ" and wrote "へ" instead. On a map of America, that he drew around my map, cause he didn't realize I had drawn America. He thought the America shape was my state.
6:They are probably, in their defense, not on their game because they are drunk and in the more intoxicating presence of a gaikokujin. In any case, they aren't gonna be much help; they are to wasted and distracted.
7:The local dialect is horridly thick.
So why do I go to izakayas? For the food! The free food that you are bound to be given doesn't hurt. If you want to learn something, you may be better off talking to the マスタ than the patrons.