The answer lies in how many are in your party.
- Alone: Always sit at the bar
- 2 people: Unless you really need a table for some reason, sit at the bar. You've probably come to see the bartender work his or her magic anyway.
- 3 people: Take a table if there's one available. If not, sit at the bar.
- 4+ people: Always take a table. Even if there are that many seats available at the bar, it's unlikely you'll be offered them -- groups of 4+ sitting in a row means those at the ends will have to be louder to be heard.
Whiskey Richard is the founder of nomunication.jp, and has been saying he has lived in Japan for ten years for the past four years. He enjoys drinking basically anything except straight-up Campari.