Day 4 [New Year’s Resolution]: The Japanese Really Like to Drink
There was a definite after-holiday gloom in the air on this crisp-clear January day. After teaching in a cafe in Jiyugaoka (where I was given a take-out cup despite the fact I was eating in), I wandered back to my house and watched Friends on Netflix all afternoon.
It’s my last day off, so as you can see, I spent it well.
The 4th is the day most people are actually back at work but since I always take Thursdays off to teach, it was a sort of bonus day. Despite the fact that most businesses started up again, though, it didn’t stop people drinking.
The Japanese love to drink. And when I say love to drink, I mean it’s not unusual for people to drink every day. Beer, sake, and chu-hi are among the favourites here. Even as I’m typing this, I’m sipping one of these:
The Japanese drink when they’re tired, stressed, out with friends, having fun, winding down, and for everything else in between. All-you-can-drink offers, obligatory nomikais where you have to go and drink with bosses and work colleagues, and cheap booze means that it’s not considered a problem if you drink a lot. It’s not even considered unusual.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing… not really. After all, Japan has the longest life expectancy in the world and drink-related violence is, compared to a lot of western countries, almost unheard of.
Drinks in Japan
Here are some drinks you can, and can’t, get in Japan.
1. Beer. Obviously. Nama-beer is draft and bin-beer is in the bottle, usually served with little glasses so you can share.
2. Sake. Japanese rice-wine. There are thousands of different types and brands out there, and it can be served hot or cold. It’s common to see older businessmen enjoying a bottle of sake at a Japanese pub, an izakaya.
3. Umeshuu. Similar to sake, but much sweeter as it’s made of plums. I loooove umeshuu.
4. Chu-hi. A canned drink commonly found in supermarkets and convenience stores that comes in a variety of fruit flavours and alcohol percentages, usually ranging from 3% to 9%. These are good for parties but horrible for hangovers.
5. Wine. Though maybe not as popular as the others, you can easily get white wine, red wine, and rosé easily enough. I don’t drink wine that much though so I don’t know much about brands.
6. Whiskey. International whiskey like Jack Daniel’s and Jim Beam is easy to find in Japan, and the country also has its own brands such as Suntory, Hakushu, and Nikka. It’s popular to drink with soda, water, or ginger ale.
Most drinks you can get in the west are available in Japan too, like Malibu and Bailey’s, but unfortunately, I’ve never come across Tia Maria, one of my favourites. They have a really great beer here called Tokyo Black, but I’ve only ever seen it in the supermarket near where I used to live in Daikanyama.
That’s enough from me today, because I’ve got to finish watching Shrek; my boyfriend is watching it for the first time and his reactions are just adorable. “Princess Fionaaa!” “Why? What happens after sunset?” Love it!
Day 4 is done! Let’s keep this up!