alcohol

Champagne sake is a bubbly glass of East meets West

As imports of Western drinks increase, interest in Japan’s native alcoholic beverages has been declining. There have been efforts to bring drinkers back to traditional drinks such as sake and shochu, but they face tough competition from the likes of wine and champagne, which evoke fashionable, sophisticated images in the minds of Japanese drinkers.

One way to revive interest could be to apply Western fermentation techniques to Eastern beverages such as sake, Japan’s “rice wine”, to create unique twists on traditional drinks. “Champagne sake” is an example of this done deliciously right.

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Drinkers’ paradise found at Tokyo restaurant-100 types of sake, all-you-can-drink, no time limit

A lot of bars and restaurants in Japan offer special deals where you can drink as much as you like for a certain amount of time, usually about two hours. The downside is these packages often don’t give you access to the full beverage menu. While beer and basic cocktails are generally included, if you’re in the mood for sake, you’re generally restricted to whatever the house brand is.

So we were excited when we heard about a new watering hole opening up in Tokyo’s Ikebukuro neighborhood that lets you pick from 100 different types of sake for its all-you-can-drink plan, and even better, there’s no time limit.

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Abashiri: Home of Japan’s Prison Museum, Prison Cafeteria, and Prison Beer

Hokkaido, Japan’s rural, northernmost island, has a wealth of tourist attractions. But while most travelers spend their time enjoying the natural beauty of the region’s mountains, forests, and oceans, visitors to the city of Abashiri often spend their time in a very different way.

That’s because in contrast to the sense of freedom Hokkaido’s wide-open vistas are so evocative of, Abashiri is home to the Abashiri Prison Museum. Aside from exhibits on the history of incarceration, the museum also has a cafeteria, where diners can eat a recreation of modern Japanese prison food, and even knock back a bottle of Abashiri Prison Stout beer.

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Sonic Hour series returns with new portable device to make your beer foamy no matter where you go

Remember Takara Tomy A.R.T.S’ punnily-named product, the Sonic Hour (“hour” sounds similar to awa, or “bubbles” in Japanese) that we introduced you to two years ago? That device created a foamy head on a glass of beer in seconds, making it the perfect present for any beer lover in Japan.

Those same beer lovers now have cause to rejoice again because this time around, the Sonic Hour is back with a handy new portable version! 

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Cherry blossom beer. Taste test. Need we say more?

After three months of cold weather, I’m ready for spring. Coincidentally, after a long week of work, I’m ready for a beer.

Lucky me, these two desires have dovetailed perfectly in the form of Kanagawa Prefecture microbrewer Sankt Gallen’s newest offering, made with the petals of the harbinger of Japanese spring, cherry blossoms. So strap on your drinking caps, because it’s time for the sakura beer taste test!

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Craft brewer releases beer made with cherry blossoms, just in time for sakura season

Japan’s cherry blossoms are beautiful enough to enjoy without any alcoholic accompaniments, but it’s a fact of life that for many people the drinks are the real draw of a sakura-viewing party. Yet while there’s definitely a certain charm to knocking back a few cold ones in the park with a group of good friends, it does seem like a waste to take the focus off the flowers, since they bloom for such a short time.

That doesn’t mean you need to slow down your drinking to maximize your appreciation of the cherry blossoms, though. It just means you’ll need to pick up a few bottles of this special beer that’s made with sakura petals.

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Kirin to release line of 1% drinks, we’re not entirely sure why either

After conducting a survey of people’s drinking habits, beverage-maker Kirin discovered that Japanese people in their 20s just weren’t drinking as much as their elders. While for many this would be an optimistic sign that the younger generation is becoming a group of sober and hardworking members of society, for those in the alcohol business it’s a sucker punch to the bottom line.

So, in an effort to keep younger drinkers off the wagon, Kirin is meeting them 99 percent of the way by offering a line of drinks aptly named “Butterfly” which contain only one percent of alcohol by volume.

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Learn how to drink with Japanese people in this funny and informative YouTube series【Videos】

MOVIE LIFE KYOTO is a video series which aims to introduce Japanese culture to foreigners in a light-hearted and humorous fashion. With English narration and Japanese subtitles, they’re filled with little factoids and hilariously on-point observations that will be of interest to foreign visitors and a source of much ‘that’s so true!’ amusement for Japanese people, too!

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Tokyo University campus has its own sushi restaurant where great dining meets higher education

No matter how scholastically talented you are, it’s hard to concentrate on an empty stomach. Even the bright minds at Tokyo University, Japan’s most prestigious institute of higher learning, need to take a break from studying and grab some chow now and again.

Of course, it’s hard to give yourself a mental recharge eating bland cafeteria food. Thankfully, that’s not a concern for the students of Tokyo University’s Kashiwa Campus, who’re lucky enough to have an amazing sushi restaurant right on the school grounds.

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Attack on sobriety! Attack on Titan teams up with plum wine maker for new anime alcohol

Along with its naked giants and high-flying fight scenes, anime and manga mega hit Attack on Titan is defined by its oppressively bleak atmosphere. Its world is one in which not only do rampaging monsters want to eat you, the ruling aristocracy is ready to kick you out of the walled city if you’re too big a drain on its resources.

Compelling as its story may be, after spending enough time in that setting, even fans of the series could find themselves needing a stiff drink. If so, they might want to reach for a glass of the soon-to-be-released Attack on Titan plum wine.

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Daiso wine, the super cheap vino from Japan’s largest chain of 100-yen stores 【Taste test】

If you’ve had the pleasure of shopping at Daiso, you know Japan’s biggest chain of 100-yen stores sells just about everything. An array of kitchenware, school and office supplies, and even basic articles of clothing such as underwear, neckties, and belts can all be yours for just 100 yen (US$0.84) each.

Daiso even sells food and beverages, with seasonings, snacks, and soft drinks lining the shelves. This is common knowledge among thrifty shoppers looking for a cheap place to stock up on snacks, but if you’re searching for something stiffer than a bottle of tea or cola, a trip to the convenience or liquor store is still in order, right?

Not necessarily, as we recently discovered that some Daiso branches now sell wine. As big of a surprise as that was, we were in for an even bigger one once we poured ourselves a glass, because it’s actually pretty good.

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Drinking sake just got more convenient with convenience store Family Mart’s new canned brews

Like with wine, there are variations in flavor between different types of Japanese sake. However, it can be kind of tough to pick up on the subtle differences unless you’re drinking them back to back. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for prices for anything other than the house sake at restaurants to start at about 800 yen (US $6.75), so putting together your own sampling set can get pricey.

But if you’re looking for a budget-friendly way to dip you toes in the wide, wonderful world of sake, convenience store Family Mart is here to help, with its new lineup of affordably priced canned sake.

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New stir-in powders promise to make beer even more delicious with boosted malt, fruit flavors

Last year, we talked about seasoning maker Ajigen’s Magic Powder that Makes Ramen More Delicious. Weird as the idea seemed initially, the more we thought about it, we realized it could be just the thing for people with a desire for a tasty meal but no time or motivation to cook for themselves.

That said, if your schedule is so packed you need to prepare dinner in three minutes, we’re guessing you also can’t spare the time for a trip to the bar and a pour of some flavorful and unique craft brew. Thankfully, Ajigen is back again with more magic powder, this time for your beer.

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Sink or drink? Japan celebrates arrival of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau with special wine-bath

Japan is becoming known worldwide for its natural hot springs and public bath houses. Lately, bathers have more and more soaking options with specialty baths popping up all over. We’ve seen snow-covered baths, tea baths, sake baths and herbal baths.

Every November however, a bathhouse near Tokyo has a unique 10-day wine bath to celebrate the release of France’s Beaujolais Nouveau wine.

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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

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

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】

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

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】

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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