Can you tell what this eye-catching white bottle decorated with bright red patterns is supped to be? While the look isn’t exactly conventional, this is actually a sake product called NISHIKIGOI, and the bottle is artfully designed to look like a beautiful colored carp.
If you’re someone who loves the sunshine and hates the cold, you’re probably feeling a little down that we’ve now undeniably entered autumn. Maybe you’re doing your best to look on the bright side by enjoying some tasty seasonal produce, like delicious Asian pears, or maybe you’re just trying to brace yourself against the advancing chill in the air with a stiff drink.
But why rely on just one of those coping strategies when you can employ both by whipping up an easy and delicious batch of Japanese-style sangria with fruit and sake?
Okinawa, the tropical island at the southern end of Japan, is known for its unique culture and tasty foods like soki soba (Okinawa noodles) and rafuti (sweet stewed pork). Another local specialty Okinawa is famous for is the alcoholic drink awamori, a distilled drink made from long-grain rice.
While the beverage has its fans across Japan, it also has enough of a distinct flavor that some people consider it a bit of an acquired taste. So you can imagine it came as somewhat of a surprise when we found out that they sell an alcoholic coffee drink in Okinawa that is infused with awamori, and at a convenience store chain, no less. We definitely had to try this!
You can get practically anything via online retail giant Amazon, and there are even some products that you can only get via the website. Ordinarily one such product is a special beer from popular Japanese craft brewery Yoho Brewing, but beer drinkers will soon be able to pick up a can at their local Lawson convenience store. You’ll have to hurry, though, because the number available is limited, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Japan spent most of this last week getting pounded by torrential rainstorms. This wasn’t just a case of people getting their socks wet, either, as flooding caused damage to houses, disruption of train lines and highways left some people stranded away from home, and in some extreme cases residents even had to be evacuated by helicopter.
But while the rains stimulated the craziness in some people, they brought out the generosity in one bar owner in Tochigi Prefecture, because while the rain was falling on Japan, drinks were on the house, as he took to Twitter to offer free booze or a place to rest for victims of the typhoon.
As a child I distinctly remember anti-drug campaigns telling me to “Just say no!” and how narcotics would turn my brain into a fried egg rather than a raw one, which I guess meant that cold, transparent and runny is the optimum condition for one’s gray matter.
And after I was released from rehab for the third time, I realized that those messages were largely ineffective. This was because rather than educate about the way drugs work both chemically and socially, they simply resorted to speaking down to the viewer and giving us simple commands that we were expected to blindly obey for some reason.
Looking at the above image to an alcohol abuse PSA from Thailand, you might expect more of the same dogmatic obscurity of days past. However, this ad—as bizarre as it is—is a very persuasive and inspiring message regarding knocking off the booze and getting your life together.
One of the things you may notice when you come to Japan is how much drinking seems to be going on. Certain Japanese societal circles (the workplace, university clubs, etc) run more smoothly with the help of alcoholic lubrication in the form of after-hours “drinking parties” to facilitate team-building and bonding—it’s called nomication (or nominication), a portmanteau of “nomu” (to drink) and “communication”.
So we were quite surprised to discover recently that Japan’s level of alcoholic beverage consumption is actually way, way down. But why?
Japanese brewing and distilling company Suntory Holdings Limited recently announced their plans to send samples of whiskey to the International Space Station in order to investigate the effects of zero gravity on the aging process.
If you’ve ever wanted to wander the streets getting drunk in broad daylight without arousing suspicion, Japan has a solution for you – pouch alcohol. Instead of carrying around an obvious bottle or can, you can now get your alcohol in a little pouch like the kind you get vitamin jelly or kids juices in. You can slip it into your bag and discreetly sip on it like you’re just enjoying a low-calorie snack. You can do it on the train, in the park, or even at work! No one will ever know! Of course, these are just examples, and we don’t recommend you actually do them. The RocketNews24 staff would certainly never endorse drinking on the job.
Taking the train is by far the most common way to get around urban and suburban Japan. By its very nature, though, using public transportation means being out in public, which in Japan means following social norms about proper manners and not bothering your fellow passengers.
The average Tokyo commuter spends an hour each way on the train, though. It can be hard to follow all of the implicit rules of train etiquette during such a lengthy ride, and here are 10 minor breaches of etiquette that some Japanese men are willing to turn a blind eye to.
There are all kinds of urban legends and so-called old wives’ tales that proclaim the health benefits, or time-saving benefits, borderline magical properties, or terrifying dangers of doing X or Y. We’ve heard them all: Don’t eat within thirty minutes of swimming or you’ll get a cramp and literally die, bundle up when it’s cold outside or you’ll get a cold (by the way, oh my god, people, stop it with this; a cold is a virus, you don’t get it from the weather), an apple a day will keep the doctor away, a watched pot never boils, etc.
It’s almost like these old sayings and legends are the pre-Internet era equivalent of lifehacks! And since we’ve sort of been on a lifehacking streak recently, we decided to give one of these a test for ourselves: Specifically, the rumor that sticking a spoon into the neck of a champagne bottle will keep it from going flat.
Are traditional bars a little too bland for you? Do you try to strike up conversations about anime with your fellow drink enthusiasts, only to get weird looks and asked to leave?
Well then you should check out Otarabo the anime bar! Not only does it have a large assortment of alcoholic beverages to enjoy, but it’s packed to the rafters with anime posters, figures, and toys. And best of all if you want to argue about Goku vs. Vegeta, or which Love Live! girl is the cutest, you’ll have plenty of inebriated otaku friends to discuss with.
What would you do if you were about to catch a flight but were then told that you couldn’t bring a bottle of alcohol worth approximately 8,000-yuan (US$1,290) onto the plane? Hands up if you’d down it in a matter of minutes!
There are many lovers of nihonshu (often called sake in English) in Japan, but a challenge of a true nihonshu fan is finding that perfect brand to suit their tastes. With the hundreds of different kinds each with their own flavors and ways to serve, you might drink for years without being able to settle on a type to call your favorite.
In addition to time, it can also be a burden on the wallet to go through bottle after bottle searching for that right one. Luckily, Mr. Sato stumbled upon something that might help speed up and cheapen the sake selecting process.
It’s a sake taste testing machine in Osaka International Airport that sells cups from nearly 30 different brands for only 100 yen (US$0.81) each.
We’ve written a lot about nihonshu, also known as sake, here at RocketNews24, but it’s not (just) because we love all things alcoholic. Nihonshu is an integral facet of traditional Japanese culture and, although it may be going through a bit of a rough patch right now, it’s still very much a part of Japanese society today.
Nowhere blends the old and the new better than Japan and, while of course technological advances have made production safer and easier, many breweries still mainly use traditional techniques to preserve the special flavour of their beverages. This video gives a glimpse into the production process today at Matsumoto Sake Brewing Co. in Kyoto, which has been making sake since 1791.
It seems like every time you look, there’s some sort of new fad diet or superfood, all purported to be the best thing you can do for your health or to improve your natural beauty. But the good news is, this one’s actually fun to partake in.
Researchers at a university in Japan have now put sweet Japanese sake to the test, and have found it to have a number of positive beauty benefits, including improvement to under-eye health!
Late spring is one of the few universally pleasant times to spend outdoors in Japan. The cold of winter and the heavy pollen counts of early spring are gone, and the heat and humidity of summer are yet to make their appearance.
Of course, some would say that no matter how nice the weather is outdoors, it’s even more comfortable to have a drink in hand. Next month, you’ll be able to scratch both those itches at once with the Shibuya Sake Festival in Tokyo’s Miyashita Park, where you can spend a day drinking as much as you’d like of more than 100 different kinds of sake.
Recently, it seems like Japanese beverage makers are all about helping us with our multitasking. First there was the sakura beer that let you enjoy a cold one and contemplate the cherry blossoms at the same time, and earlier this week it was time for a taste test of alcoholic matcha green tea.
Now, it’s time for another double-dose of drinkables, with Suntory’s just-released bottled water with the flavor of…yogurt?!?
Every now and then, after a nice, satisfying dinner, I’ll find myself with both a thirst and a quandary. Do I feel like capping the meal with a relaxing cup of tea, or something stronger?
Thanks to a new drink that just hit stores in Japan, though, I don’t necessarily have to choose one or the other, because this alcoholic beverage is made with matcha green tea powder.
Getting pounded into the turf by a 40-meter (131-foot) tall martial artist who can shoot beams of energy from his hands can’t be an easy lifestyle. So last year when a restaurant opened in Kawasaki to honor the giant monsters and aliens who so often end up on the losing side of the battles in the Ultraman franchise, we thought it was nice they now had a place to relax, enjoy some tasty food, and knock back a few beers between regularly getting pummeled by the good guys.
Of course, we Earthlings were also welcome at the establishment, called the Kaiju Sakaba (“Monster Pub”). We stopped by shortly after the place opened last year, and all of the Ultraman-themed decorations made us feel like we were little kids again (well, at least until our first round of alcoholic drinks arrived, anyway). And then we felt like little kids again as wept in sadness upon hearing the Kaiju Sakaba was closing last March.
But, just like the ending of each installment of the Ultraman saga gives way to the next chapter, the Kaiju Sakaba is coming back to Kawasaki later this month, and this time it’s here to stay!