Aug 14, 2014
While I like to think of myself as one of the more cynical and irreverent – as well as dashingly handsome and sharply dressed – writers here at RocketNews24, I occasionally do come across a subject I’d rather approach with a more measured, sober point of view. Like, for example, the subject of sweet, sweet booze!
It might come as a shock to people whose primary brushes with Japanese culture come from visits to their local, non-Japan-based Japanese teppan restaurant or izakaya, but sake – the country’s national alcoholic beverage – is kind of in dire straights nowadays. The traditional, rice-based drink basically has been getting steamrolled by imported drinks like beer and wine, which have less of a “learning curve” to fully enjoy and thus appeal more to young people in Japan.
Since the 1970s, when the drink still faced stiff competition from domestic beers and imported wines but was doing pretty well for itself, domestic sake sales have hit a wall, with the number of brewers falling from nearly 5,000 in that period to just 1,000 or so now. Some have turned to foreign markets, even looking into new ways to pair sake with western food, while others have tried to innovate with sparkling sake – which is kicking ass in sales numbers and might just prove to be the drink’s savior.
Aug 7, 2014
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.
Michelle Lynn Dinh
Jul 4, 2014
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.
May 4, 2014
A few of Japan’s most popular pastimes aren’t exactly what some other societies would consider socially acceptable, or even comprehensible, as hobbies. It’s perfectly acceptable to say your hobby is “drinking” or “taking baths,” and while those are both common activities the world over, in other countries most people stop putting their enthusiasm for the first front and center after graduating from college, and the second is seen as more of a necessity than an entertainment option.
Japan’s love for alcohol and bathing, though, is immense, as evidenced by the thousands of bars, pubs, and hot spring resorts that cover the country. Now, some are claiming there are health benefits to combining the two by mixing a little booze into your bath.
Apr 26, 2014
During his visit to Tokyo, American President Barack Obama stepped out for a bite to eat with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Sukibayashi Jiro, widely held to be one of the finest sushi restaurants in the world. As you’d expect from their lofty positions, Sukibayashi Jiro isn’t an eatery for ordinary folks, what with its months-long reservation waiting list and set courses that cost 30,000 yen (US$294) yet only an amount of food that can be polished off in just 15 minutes.
And what about the sake the two leaders drank together? Surely, that must be an equally rarified brew, far out of the price range of anyone who isn’t the most powerful individual in his or her country. You probably even need a direct connection with someone in the industry to buy some, right?
Nope. Not only can you score a bottle for less than 10 bucks, but you can order it online right now.
Apr 11, 2014
Sake is often referred to as “rice wine.” Some would argue the term is misleading, since unlike wine, sake is brewed, but Japan’s traditional spirit does have something in common with the world’s favorite grape-based alcoholic beverage. As with wine, depending on the ingredients and exact production process, two different types of sake can have very different flavors.
This can make searching for one that suits your palate a complex, if not unpleasant, task. There’s also the fact that most of Japan’s best-tasting sake is produced far outside of its major urban centers, which is why we were surprised and thrilled to find a restaurant in downtown Tokyo offering a sampler of sake from distant Akita Prefecture for just 500 yen (US$4.90). Our excitement only grew when we found out that the deal is also all you can drink.
Michelle Lynn Dinh
Mar 2, 2014
At RocketNews24, we’re all about strange alcoholic drinks. But this next one isn’t exactly strange; we’d call it peculiar. The classic Japanese rice wine beverage, nihon-shu, otherwise known as “sake” in English, is given a fun and fruity twist. There are very few drink recipes with nihon-shu as a base, but this one is refreshing and totally easy to drink. Try out this super simple recipe for what we like to call “Japanese sangria” and enjoy a flavor infusion of a traditional Japanese alcohol.
Feb 25, 2014
Annual Cat Day may be over, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop celebrating all things feline, does it? That’s right, as fond as we are of cats, we don’t really need a reason to express our affection for our feline friends, and in that spirit, some of the lovely reporters at our sister site Pouch decided to get together and come up with a list of the best cat-themed alcoholic drinks around. Cats and alcohol, now that sounds like a dangerously attractive combination!
To get their hands on some of the fun and tasty cat-themed drinks out there, our reporters used the services of major Japanese online liquor distributor Kakuyasu. Let’s see what their top five pics were.
Sake (or nihonshu in Japanese) is Japan’s most famous native alcoholic beverage and once was the reigning king of alcohol sales in Japan. Since, the drink has fallen by the wayside as the bubbly, utterly delicious and infallible – says this totally unbiased author – beverage known as beer steamrolled in, flattening the competition even as wine and certain types of spirits agreeable to the Japanese palate also came around to swipe a piece of the pie.
But if this Niigata sake theme park, where visitors can purchase a cup of sake for just 100 yen, has anything to say about it, sake sales may just find themselves back on top again, as the already much-talked about spot seems poised to explode in popularity, thanks in no small part, of course, to this RocketNews24 article you’re reading right now.
Feb 21, 2014
In my time in Japan, I’ve been asked to leave numerous drinking establishments. Don’t get the wrong idea, though. It wasn’t because I was causing a disturbance (well, except for that one time in college), or because I was charming all the women and not leaving any for the other male customers (well, except for….wait, no, that really didn’t ever happen).
The polite requests for me to exit bars come from the wonderful system called nomi hodai, where you pay a flat fee and are served as much booze as you like. The standard time limit is two hours, although some places have budget priced 90-minute plans, and others are more generous with three-hour deals. It’s always a downer when the wait staff tells you your time’s up, but after all, they have to cut the customers off at some point, right?
Not at a new bar in Tokyo, where paying the entrance fee gets you an unlimited amount of sake and beer with no time limit.
Love Japanese sake? These 10 breweries recommended by Japanese alcohol enthusiasts will wet your whistle!
Jan 24, 2014
There are three requirements for brewing up a perfect batch of Japanese sake: rice, water and cold weather. Now, with many breweries opening their factories for a limited time during the winter months, it’s the ideal time for visitors to Japan to learn more about the national tipple. Tours walk you through the brewing process as it happens, with tips and information often provided by the master brewer, or tōji, himself, followed by a sake tasting to top off the experience. If you’d like to get far away from the well-worn tourist path and into the heart of some fantastic drinking experiences, we’ve got the list for you.
Like cute anime girls? Enjoy the occasional cup of sake? Then head on down to the Moe Syu Summit and Sake Matsuri. Held in Akihabara, the otaku capital of Japan, the festival combines moe (cute anime girls) and nihonshu (Japanese rice wine).
When people think of Japanese alcohol, they almost inevitably think of sake, and with good reason! More accurately known as nihonshu, or “Japanese alcohol,” the rice-wine drink has played an essential role in Japanese culture for centuries.
But as delicious as some may find it, it’s not for everyone, even if drinking it would make you healthy, wealthy, and wise… or at least healthier. The taste can take a little getting used to, so it’s hardly surprising to find someone who’d rather just have a nice cold beer. But maybe they’re just drinking the wrong sake!
Drink enough adult beverages and one day you’re sure to experience “beer googles,” the phenomenon where the person you’re looking at starts to appear more and more attractive after each round.
But is it possible to make yourself better looking through the power of alcohol? Apparently so…
John Stuart Translations
Apr 22, 2013
Figuring that buying his two young boys a present would help ease the wrath of an angry spouse when he got home late after a night of drinking with co-workers (as process known as nominication), company employee Taro Suzuki may have inadvertently left the gift in a public phone booth after calling his wife to say he would be later than expected due to having missed the last train.
“My boys have a huge aquarium and love gold fish,” said Suzuki while picking his ear with his house keys. “I thought if I brought home a few more their joy at receiving them would help calm the wife who, if past experience is any kind of indicator, might be somewhat displeased with my having missed dinner to go out for a few with the guys.”
It wasn’t until Suzuki got home and went to make his play, however, that he realized he no longer had the fish!
Michelle Lynn Dinh
Feb 14, 2013
When asked to pick your poison what do you choose? In a recent survey, people in Japan were asked to select their favorite alcoholic beverage. The results, as we’ll see after the break, were quite surprising.
Nov 30, 2012
Playstation 2 and Wii owners will likely be familiar with Ōkami, the adventure game set in ancient Japan that features an absolutely gorgeous wood-cut, cell-shaded graphic design.
The game puts players in control of the wolf incarnation of Shintō goddess Amaterasu, and quests them with using a magical, life-giving paintbrush to transform a dark, cursed world into one of plants, trees and flowers, as well as battling a few demons and evil spirits along the way.
On the same theme of restoration, a local website based in Rikuzentakata, a coastal town in Iwate prefecture severely damaged by the March 11 tsunami, has launched a special range of products officially backed by Capcom, the makers of Ōkami, with profits from their sale going to towards rebuilding the town and, much like the game, “restoring nature to its once beautiful state.”
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