The culture shock of visiting a place as foreign and different as Japan can be stressful. This guide won't help with that, but it will help you ensure that you're not both stressed and sober. A Beginner’s Guide to Cheap Drinking in Japan | Unofficial Networks

A Beginner's Guide to Cheap Drinking in Japan

A Beginner's Guide to Cheap Drinking in Japan

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A Beginner's Guide to Cheap Drinking in Japan

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The culture shock of visiting a place as foreign and different as Japan can be stressful. This guide won’t help with that, but it will help you ensure that you’re not both stressed and sober.

Enter here.

Enter here.

Where

The cheapest and easiest place to get alcohol in Japan is supermarkets. There are liquor stores in Japan; but they are few and far between, and don’t necessarily have a much larger selection or better prices. Vending machines, restaurants, bars, etc are all great ways to drink in Japan, but this article will focus on what the stores have to offer.

 

Beer. The real, 100% stuff.

Beer. The real, 100% stuff.

Beer

First (always): beer. Japan has a number of large breweries (Kirin, Asahi, Yebisu, Sapporo…), all of whom almost exclusively brew light, refreshing lagers. Beer is heavily taxed in Japan, and tends to be quite expensive. In an effort to offer it more cheaply, brewers will mix cheaper non-beer ingredients (think: watered down malt liquor) with their regular beer. So, when you see beers that look cheaper, check the large percentage number printed on it, as that will indicate how good it is. You don’t get much of a discount for buying beer in bulk, so buy a bunch of different single cans, and decide where your taste buds and wallet can find a compromise.

 

Whiskey. Check out the 4 liter bottles on the bottom shelf.

Whiskey. Check out the 4 liter bottles on the bottom shelf.

Whiskey

Given that beer is somewhat expensive and doesn’t have much for interesting flavor in Japan, any good skier should look to whiskey next. What the Japanese lack in beer; they make up for with good, cheap whiskeys. Japan ranks right next to the United States for their selection of cheap, quality whiskey. The Japanese primarily produce scotch-whisky blends. However, there is very little tax on liquor, so imported whiskeys are very affordable. So, if you’re a Bourbon drinker, you won’t go thirsty. The nice thing with Japanese whiskies is that they are good on both ends of the spectrum – they’ve got cheap ones that are very drinkable, and expensive ones that are absolutely delicious. So try a bit of a both!

 

Sake selection.

Sake selection.

Sake and Shochu

So first, whats the difference? Sake is brewed from rice and is similar to wine in many ways; while Shochu is distilled from sweet potato, rice, buckwheat, or barley, and is more similar to a hard liquor. Sake is around 10-15% alcohol, while Shochu is 25%. They will usually be in separated sections in the liquor aisle; but if you’re not sure, Shochu will be the one with a big 25% label on it.

Shochu. Notice the 25% label.

Shochu. Notice the 25% label.

Trying out a couple bottles of Sake and Shochu is highly recommended. They can be a bit overwhelming, as the labels are 100% Kanji, so its really hard to know what you’re getting. Consider doing a bit of research beforehand if it’s something you’re interested in. Check out Sake World for some more information. If you’re looking to keep it simple, use the fool-proof approach developed for picking a bottle of wine: choose your price range, then grab the one with a cool looking label. It’ll probably be good.

 

The cheapest in Japan. Drink at your own peril.

The cheapest in Japan. Drink at your own peril.

Shochu is also the cheapest way to get drunk in Japan. It can be purchased in 5 liter plastic jugs for scary low prices. However, beware – only a few sips will give you a rough hangover, and a whole jug will probably cause blindness.

 

Japan has a reputation for being expensive; but they have some unique and tasty alcohol options that can be experienced at a very reasonable price.

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