drinks

Chiba craft brewery releases unfortunately named “Immigrant Pilsner” for sale nationwide

Chiba craft brewery releases unfortunately named “Immigrant Pilsner” for sale nationwide

As a two-party democracy, the United States can be a fickle place for marketers. Republicans and Democrats are so different ideologically that certain words and phrases on your product label or in your ad campaign are practically guaranteed to alienate half of the market; or, if you’re especially unlucky, all of it. Take the word “immigrant,” for example – it’s a loaded word that will make Republicans shun your product believing that it advocates rights for immigrants (Remember, this is the same party whose leaders sometimes suggest in all seriousness building a moat – complete with cartoonish man-eating alligators – around the US to keep illegals out), while Democrats might see the word “immigrant” on a product and suspect some type of labor exploitation going on.

Luckily, Americans – and Japanese – of all stripes are united in their love of beer, so Chiba, Japan’s Loco Beer brewery’s rendition of an old American beer recipe, originally brewed by German immigrants, gets a pass from American expats and Japanese consumers alike on the unfortunate naming of its new Immigrant Pilsner craft beer.

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McDonald’s Japan celebrates cherry blossom season with new cherry frappe and mocha drinks

McDonald’s Japan celebrates cherry blossom season with new cherry frappe and mocha drinks

With certain varieties of sakura trees already covered in pink blossoms, Japan has got cherry trees on the brain. Everyone is looking forward to go out and see the flowers that’ll only be here for a short time, but why settle for one Japanese tradition when you can have two by combining it with limited-availability fast food, in the form of cherry mochas and frappes from McDonald’s.

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New Japanese energy drink designed to help samurai, salarymen accomplish mighty deeds

New Japanese energy drink designed to help samurai, salarymen accomplish mighty deeds

As part of a society where industriousness is prized above just about anything else, many people in Japan feel like they could use a boost in the middle of the day. Austrian Red Bull and American Monster have booth made headways into the Japanese market, but this month sees a new entry to the energy drink battleground with the indigenous Samuride, which promises to invigorate you with ingredients used by Japan’s famed warriors.

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Is cola-flavored soy milk the answer to our prayers? We find out

Is cola-flavored soy milk the answer to our prayers? We find out

A while back, food conglomerate Kibun and soy giant Kikkoman announced a couple new flavors for their popular Tonyu Inryo line of soy milk. In and of itself, this wasn’t too surprising, as new varieties are regularly swapped in and out of the Tonyu Inryo lineup.

One of the new flavors caught the eye of our junk food loving team, though: healthy cola. Ordinarily, the words “healthy” and “cola” are in such direct opposition that we expected the package to be contain a paradox-induced black hole, or to at least be completely empty inside. To our surprise, though, Kibun was indeed able to develop its healthy cola soy milk, and we wasted no time in trying it.

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Limited edition ANA Starbucks bottles are available over Japan, but not in it

Limited edition ANA Starbucks bottles are available over Japan, but not in it

Just like it does in other markets, Starbucks offers special limited edition merchandise for specific locations in Japan. But even if you’ve already got special tumblers from Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, and Hiroshima, you collection won’t be entirely complete without this special Starbucks bottle that you can only purchase onboard ANA flights inside or connecting to Japan.

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Starbucks Japan’s sakura drinks: One more reason we’re ready for winter to be over

Starbucks Japan’s sakura drinks: One more reason we’re ready for winter to be over

Is it spring yet? I know my southern Californian upbringing means I whine whenever the temperature is cold enough that I have to put on a jacket to go out, but I could seriously do with some warmer weather right about now. There’s all sorts of things to look forward to in the coming season, such as longer days, being able to spend more time outdoors, and the blooming of the sakura, or cherry blossoms.

And just in case the deal needs any more sweetening, there’s also Starbucks’ springtime sakura beverage lineup.

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Something for soy milk skeptics: cola and pear flavors

Something for soy milk skeptics: cola and pear flavors

Living in Japan has done a lot to broaden my palate. For example, over the last 10 years my take on tofu has gone from “jello’s boring cousin” to “actually pretty good, especially with a little bit of sesame or spicy sauce.”

That said, I’m still not sold on soy milk. While the idea of popping open a soybean pod and finding delicious morsels of beef sounds like some sort of wonderful dreamland, the potential magic of bovine/bean cross-over doesn’t do much for me in reverse, and in general I’ll happily pass on drinkable soy.

Hoping to change my mind are two upcoming additions to soy giant Kikkoman’s line of flavored soy beverages: pear and cola.

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How to drink hot green tea like a master (even if you have “cat tongue”)

How to drink hot green tea like a master (even if you have “cat tongue”)

While attending college in Tokyo, I spent the year living with a Japanese family in order to more fully immerse myself in the language and culture. But aside from being a budding linguist, I was also someone whose culinary skills weren’t quite up to even the challenge of preparing those fancy instant ramens with multiple flavoring packets, so the living arrangement including two home-cooked meals a day was gravy.

Of course, there wasn’t much actual gravy, as most of our meals were traditional Japanese fare. Dinner was always followed by a cup of freshly brewed green tea, served piping hot. Every night though, by the time I could start drinking my tea, my host parents had already finished theirs. Was there some special technique for drinking hot tea? Was I doing something wrong?

As has so often been the case in my life, yes, I was.

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Convenience stores’ room-temperature drinks get warm reception on hot days

Convenience stores’ room-temperature drinks get warm reception on hot days

Whenever I’m forced to suffer the humid heat of Tokyo’s hot and rainy summers, I’m grateful for the large number of vending machines and convenience stores, all ready to sell me a nice, cold drink. It seems that not everyone shares my excitement, however, as a large percentage of Japan’s residents have shown distaste for chilled beverages. Some quote health reasons, while others just don’t like cold drinks. Lucky for them, the convenience store, Daily Yamazaki, is ready to meet their call.

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Don’t like drinking with the boss? No Promotion For You!

Don’t like drinking with the boss? No Promotion For You!

In Japan, husbands often hand over their pay packets to their wives, who are the chief financial controllers for the household. Husbands then receive a fraction of their pay in the form of a monthly allowance, which has to cover costs such as cell phone charges, lunches and all-important networking and relations-building nomikai, or work drinking parties.

According to a survey by Shinsei Bank, the average office worker receives an allowance of 39,600 yen (US$398) a month. But when the average cost for attending a drinking party is 2,860 yen ($28.75), and one lunch is an average of 510 yen ($5.13) a day, many workers are now choosing to skip out on after work drinks. What they don’t realise is that this attempt to save some yen is actually jeopardising their careers.

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Japan’s Greatest Faux Beers: Everything You Need to Know About Happoshu

Japan’s Greatest Faux Beers: Everything You Need to Know About Happoshu

Whether you realize it or not, you’ve probably had a happoshu (発泡酒)or “low-malt beer-like beverage” if you’ve ever had a night out in Japan.

The taste of a typical happoshu can vary from “pretty close to the real thing” to “yes, this is definitely weasel urine.” Going into a convenience store and blindly grabbing a beer can is thus a bit of a gamble in Japan, so, ever the masculine, barrel-chested and dashingly handsome role model father to our readers, we’ve done the work for you and chosen the five happoshu brands that are worth your time:

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