alcohol

After a long day of work, Japan wants ice cream…and alcohol!

After a long day of work, Japan wants ice cream…and alcohol!

Nothing welcomes a three day weekend more than an extra glass of wine or an extra scoop of ice cream. Most of us likely enjoy these two things separately, but why not enjoy them together? Japan has taken to sharing their best pairings of alcohol and ice cream, and if you are in the mood for a tasty new combination, you might just find a brilliant suggestion here that you haven’t thought of yet.

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Brew a gallon of homemade sake with this DIY kit

Brew a gallon of homemade sake with this DIY kit

Following on from yesterday’s craft beer article, let’s talk about another kind of alcohol that’s popular in Japan – sake, or nihonshu. How would you like to try brewing some of your own?

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Civil servant suing Fukuoka over employee drinking ban, asking for one yen in compensation

Civil servant suing Fukuoka over employee drinking ban, asking for one yen in compensation

In Japan, work comes first. For most people, their professional life takes priority over their family, romantic, and personal lives, with long hours and short vacations being the norm.

Given that environment, it’s no surprise that after their shift ends, many people want to stop off at a bar for a cold beer to wash the taste of work out of their mouth. For a one-month period, though, that wasn’t an option for civil servants in Fukuoka City, due to a temporary ban on drinking outside their homes. Obviously, this wasn’t a popular rule among workers, and one man was so upset he’s now suing the city, asking for a single yen in compensation.

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Yokohama Beer Fes 2014 serves up Japanese craft beer from around the country【Photos】

Yokohama Beer Fes 2014 serves up Japanese craft beer from around the country【Photos】

Sake is Japan’s most famous alcoholic beverage, although technically this Japanese word simply means ‘alcohol’ and is used to refer to all varieties of the liquid. Within Japan you’ll most commonly hear ‘nihonshu’ and ‘shochu’ used to describe the two main types of traditional alcohol. However, nowadays it’s actually beer that’s the go-to drink in Japan, and while the big corporations still account for most of it, locally-brewed craft beer has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. And it’s not just for hipsters anymore.

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A year of beer at Tokyo restaurant offering all-you-can-drink Asahi for 12 months

A year of beer at Tokyo restaurant offering all-you-can-drink Asahi for 12 months

One of the most common questions that comes up about life in Japan is, “Is it expensive?” Often, the answer depends on a number of factors. For example, is beer expensive? Well, if you want to go hopping from bar to bar, where you’ll get charged a separate cover at each, then yeah, you’re probably going to find your wallet hurting before your liver.

On the other hand, at most izakaya, the pub-like restaurants that serve a wide variety of alcohol and food, shelling out an extra 2,000 yen (US $19.80) or so will allow you to upgrade your meal to include unlimited booze. It can save you some serious cash if you’re looking to do some serious drinking, with the only downside being that most come with a two-hour time limit.

That is, unless you sign up for a plan that gives you unlimited beer for an entire year, like one restaurant in Tokyo is offering.

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Awesome Narita Airport beer dispenser gives a perfect pour every time 【Video】

Awesome Narita Airport beer dispenser gives a perfect pour every time 【Video】

Whenever I fly back to L.A., I have a standard ritual I go through. I make sure to get to Narita Airport well ahead of my departure time, check in for my flight, and have a beer or two before take-off. This gets me nice and sleepy, and I usually doze off shortly after we reach our cruising altitude, waking up several hours closer to home.

Since I fly coach, there’s a convenience store inside the terminal where I procure my supplies in canned form. Should I ever find myself with a Qantas business class ticket, though, it’s good to know that the Australian carrier’s business longue not only has draft Asahi, but that it’s perfectly poured by an awesome beer-dispensing machine.

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Truly horrific bar in Tokyo serves up cocktails and ghost tales【Video】

Truly horrific bar in Tokyo serves up cocktails and ghost tales【Video】

With summer winding down, people across Japan are scrambling to squeeze the last bits of entertainment from the season. We may be into the second half of August, but there’s still time for a last trip to the beach, one more barbecue, or a final icy cold beer.

As a matter of fact, you can combine the last of those pleasures with another Japanese summertime tradition – ghost stories - at a bar in Tokyo that provides stiff drinks, spooky tales, and truly terrifying interior decorations.

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We try Japan’s most exclusive beer at the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka【Taste test】

We try Japan’s most exclusive beer at the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka【Taste test】

In recent years, Japan’s gotten pretty into craft brewing. A few of the more prominent brands can be tracked down at specialty liquor stores in major cities like Tokyo, but many smaller outfits don’t have anything close to a national distribution network. For example, if you’re in the mood for a nice Doppo or Miyajima Beer, you’re looking at a trip out to Okayama or Hiroshima, respectively.

Still, most Japanese microbrews aren’t too hard to get your hands on, as long as you’re in the city, or at least the prefecture, where they’re made. Recently, though, we tried what might be the most exclusive beer in Japan, which is served in one place only, inside the U.S. naval base in the city of Yokosuka.

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We drown and freeze our troubles at the same time with alcoholic shochu shaved ice

We drown and freeze our troubles at the same time with alcoholic shochu shaved ice

We were feeling a little blue yesterday. You see, the RocketNews24 office is just a short walk away from the Isetan department store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku. Earlier in the week, we’d stopped by to see the ferociously cuddly stuffed Godzilla that had been on display, but sadly, August 5 was his last day at Isetan.

It was sad to be parted from the King of the Plush Monsters, but as the saying goes, God never closes a door without opening a window. Or in this case, a bottle, because Isetan also has something that can drown the sorrow in our hearts while cooling us off in the oppressive summer heat: alcoholic shaved ice with shochu.

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Fireworks, seaweed, and sake-The unique regional aspects of visiting a grave in Japan

Fireworks, seaweed, and sake-The unique regional aspects of visiting a grave in Japan

Every year, almost every company in Japan takes about a week off in August. And while some people use this time to travel, attend firework festivals, or just hang out at the beach, the real purpose is Obon, the Japanese holiday during which people go back to their hometown to visit their family grave and offer a prayer to their ancestors, whether distant or recently deceased.

In general, relatives pay their respects all together at the same time, and the associated family reunion keeps the atmosphere from being too somber. Still, in general, the tone is retrained and reserved, as the family prays silently, lights some incense, and leaves a bouquet of flowers.

Unless, that is, they’re in one of the parts of Japan where Obon means bringing a supply of fireworks or seaweed to the grave.

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We fly straight to Tokyo’s newest Buffalo wing and craft beer joint

We fly straight to Tokyo’s newest Buffalo wing and craft beer joint

Back in high school, one weekend I went to eat at Denny’s with a group of classmates. One of them ordered Buffalo wings, and even though that’s exactly what the waitress brought him, he immediately sent them back, protesting, “Hey, these are chicken wings!”

I’m still baffled by his reaction. Did he really think there was some rare breed of buffalo, which not only had sprouted wings, but was being sourced for side orders at one of the cheapest restaurants in America? For everyone else at the table, the fact that we’d been attending San Dimas High for years and still hadn’t had any Bill and Ted-style time-travelling adventures had already hammered home the fact that life isn’t always filled with magic and wonder, but apparently our finicky friend’s dreams wouldn’t die so easily.

For that matter, shouldn’t everyone be able to get excited about a plate of chicken wings? The RocketNews24 team sure can, which is why we recently checked out a new Tokyo eatery, Buffalo Wings & Smile Tokyo.

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Whiskey shaved ice: A frozen treat for adults in Kyoto

Whiskey shaved ice: A frozen treat for adults in Kyoto

One of the most popular ways to cool yourself off during a muggy Japanese summer is with a bowl of shaved ice, known as kakigoori. However, not everyone has the sweet tooth or enduring connection to their inner child that’s necessary to enjoy the brightly colored, syrupy sweet frozen treat that’s usually flavored like strawberry, melon, or lemon.

Thankfully, if you’re looking for a chilled dessert that’s a little more adult, a restaurant in Kyoto has just the thing: shaved ice with whiskey.

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Toma Toma Sparkling: Taste-testing the tomato juice that will give you a hangover

Toma Toma Sparkling: Taste-testing the tomato juice that will give you a hangover

Last week, we brought you news that Japanese brewing company Suntory was releasing an alcoholic, summer-only tomato-juice drink called Hajikeru Tomato no Sake Toma Toma Sparkling, or just Toma Toma Sparkling for short. Some of us here at RocketNews24 apparently aren’t big fans of tomato juice, a fact which leaves the rest of us (i.e. the righteous and upstanding) baffled. Since it’s one of my top three non-alcoholic drinks, after orange juice and acerola juice, I was more than happy to take up the task of taste-testing this strange new concoction from Suntory.

So, how does Toma Toma Sparkling fare? Is it delicious, fizzy tomato juice that will give you a hangover or is it an abomination better poured down the toilet?

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We visit Kyoto’s monk bar for some spiritual spirits

We visit Kyoto’s monk bar for some spiritual spirits

Many visitors to Kyoto find themselves overcome with a sense of tranquility. Even for people who aren’t Buddhists themselves, there’s just something soothing about being around so many temples and their stoic monks.

You know what else a lot of people find relaxing? A nice cold beer! So when we recently found ourselves in Japan’s former capital and looking for a calming presence, we decided to make it a double by going to a bar run by a genuine monk.

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Pork skewers, spicy fish cakes, and beer backpacks – We look for baseball grub at Nagoya Dome

Pork skewers, spicy fish cakes, and beer backpacks – We look for baseball grub at Nagoya Dome

Even though she grew up in Nagasaki, when it comes to baseball our Japanese-language correspondent Aya cheers for Nagoya’s Chunichi Dragons. Sure, the Softbank Hawks, who play out of Fukuoka, would be closer to her home town, but ever since Aya’s Dragon-loving friend took her to her first baseball game at Nagoya Dome, she’s been pulling for the serpentine team.

The Dragons have given their fans plenty of memories over the years, with the sweetest being the club’s Japan Series championship in 2007. But do they also provide a tasty meal at their home stadium?

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New in time for summer: Sparkling tomato booze!

New in time for summer: Sparkling tomato booze!

Personally, I can’t stand the taste of tomato juice. Even if I try to be healthy and buy a mixed fruit-and-vegetable drink, if there’s even a hint of tomato going on, the carton gets immediately shoved back in the fridge for my wife to try (read: finish off for me).

But if you’re one of those folks who just can’t get enough of that curious red stuff, there’s a new drink you may want to try this summer: Toma Toma Sparkling. Oh, and it has alcohol in it.

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We wait almost two hours for a rum parfait in Hokkaido, and it’s totally worth it

We wait almost two hours for a rum parfait in Hokkaido, and it’s totally worth it

Running a restaurant is tough work, as anyone who’s ever worked as a server, cook, or manager can tell you. Especially in Japan, a country where a good meal is considered one of the best things that can happen during your day, we try to give the staff the benefit of the doubt that they’re preparing our food as quickly as they can, while still maintaining the levels of flavor and presentation customers expect.

Still, we have to admit our patience was tested when we walked into a restaurant in Sapporo and ordered a single parfait. We were pretty surprised when well over an hour later, it still hadn’t come.

Then we were even more shocked when we finally got to eat our dessert and found out it was well worth the wait.

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The sake from Evangelion goes great with Japan’s poisonous blowfish…from a can 【Taste test】

The sake from Evangelion goes great with Japan’s poisonous blowfish…from a can 【Taste test】

We’re not shattering any illusions when we point out that the hit anime Evangelion is a work of fiction, right? Japan hasn’t built a new capital in the mountains of Kanagawa Prefecture, aliens aren’t attacking the country, and as far as we know, no one’s turned into a puddle of Tang because they couldn’t find a way to deal with their loneliness.

But there is one thing you’ll see in Evangelion that’s 100 percent true to life. The brand of sake hard-drinking character Misato regularly enjoys, Dassai, actually exists, and we recently tried a bottle. Not only that, since one of the many themes Eva deals with is confronting your fears, we decided to pair it with a snack that just might kill us.

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Japan tops the list of countries that are the most accepting of alcohol

Japan tops the list of countries that are the most accepting of alcohol

Japan is in a league of its own when it comes to drinking. Sure, the pubs of England may be filled with raucous drunken shenanigans and those in Argentina have surely experienced their fair share of malbec-filled late nights, but nowhere else is publicly knocking back a cold one (or two or five) as socially sanctioned as it is in Japan. What some might consider chronic alcoholism in the United States is perfectly okay, and in many cases considered good for your career, in this land of sake and sochu. So it came as no surprise to us to learn that Japan landed on the very top of the list of the countries that think drinking alcohol is morally acceptable.

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Kick back with a glass of Godzilla shochu alcohol

Kick back with a glass of Godzilla shochu alcohol

Godzilla wants to pour you his own variety of shochu alcohol to celebrate his latest film’s worldwide success. To date, Godzilla has brought in US$477.6 million at the box office worldwide. Japan’s Konishi Brewing Company is marking the occasion by re-releasing its Choujugura shochu in a special collector’s edition Godzilla porcelain bottle.

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