The Weird and Wonderful World of Japanese Booze

“Variety is the spice of life,” as the old saying goes, and this holds particularly true in Japan, where a trip to the local convenience store will reveal a mind-bending cornucopia of products, from green-tea Kit-Kats to Chardonnay-flavoured Fanta. The same adventurous spirit is applied to alcoholic drinks.
Anything is possible. In certain watering holes, even such a traditional drink as sake can be bought with a dead lizard floating in the bottle to spice things up. This exotic beverage would explain the phrase “pissed as a newt.”

If that’s not grotesque enough for you, you might like to know that it is not unheard of for the Japanese to drink sake mixed with turtles’ blood. This is considered to be an aphrodisiac, but it ain’t much of a turn on for me, I can tell you! Similarly, deer-penis sake is an expensive delicacy. This is also an aphrodisiac, but presumably not for the deer. It reminds me of a bad joke:
Q: What do you call a deer with no eyes?
A: No eye-deer.
Q: What do you can a deer with no eyes and no penis?
A: No f*cking eye-deer.

Of course, such drinks don’t appeal to the younger generation. They are more fond of chu-hai, which are sickly-sweet alcoholic fizzy drinks.

When I first arrived in Japan I was regularly guzzling this stuff at work, innocently believing it to be lemonade, and wondering why I was feeling woozy and getting headaches in the afternoon. There are a mind-boggling selection of canned chuhais in the fridges of convenience stores in Japan. There are even alcoholic variants of the amusingly-named soft drink, “Calpis”, including the gut-churning “Calpis Fuzzy Navel.”

Recently, enterprising booze-makers at Awa’s have concocted a chu-hai which has a foaming head, like beer. Quite why anybody would make such a potion is beyond me. Presumably they were pissed on their own products when they came up with the concept.

I myself am a beer man, and I am certainly spoiled for choice in that department. Aside from the nationally popular lagers manufactured by Asahi, Kirin and Sapporo, there are plenty of local micro-breweries across the land, producing products with charming names like “Nude Beer.”

In order to compete, some of the smaller companies are using increasingly inventive brewing techniques.
If it takes your fancy, you can buy a chocolate-flavoured beer known as Choco Bear Beer. Pass the sick-bucket please. It sounds like an idea fished out of Willy Wonka’s waste-paper basket.

Or perhaps you’d like to try the revolting-sounding “Bilk” which is a mixture of beer and milk. Apparently it’s a fruity beer aimed at women, and was conceived as a way to use up surplus milk. I balk at the idea of drinking Bilk. I suspect Bilk tastes like cow-piss, but you may be surprised to learn it is not made by the Calpis company.

Even the kiddies are catered for, with the non-alcoholic “Kodomo No Nomimono” (Kids’ Beer) ensnaring consumers while they’re young.

Once these youngsters develop a thirst, as they grow they can move on to Choco-Bear Beer and Calpis Fuzzy Navel, and then onwards and upwards until they themselves are adults and can design and market their own hideous and bizarre moonshine.
So there you have it- just a few of the wild drinks on the shelves of Japanese liquor stores and cocktail bars. If you were to buy all of the above-mentioned drinks and pour them into a large cauldron, it would make the most sickening and lethal party-punch known to mankind.

18 Responses to The Weird and Wonderful World of Japanese Booze

  1. clarkebruce says:

    Bilk? I feel sick at the thought!

  2. Woeful says:

    Bilk is a four letter word I never wish to hear again. NASTY!

  3. roaf says:

    I guess “bilk” is the noise you make when it’s coming out again!

  4. maliha11 says:

    thats sooo disgusting ewwwww !!!!

  5. simaldeff says:

    I’m happy to see that your research have been recognized by your peers. LOL
    You have to try all the above beverage and make reviews!


  6. […] our interview. Make sure to visit Gaijin Tonic and say “hi” to Roaf and help him help obscure Japanese beers and bands take over the […]

  7. freonix says:

    Ah, proper transistion ritual from boy to man…beeer…

  8. roaf says:

    The kids Beer actually tastes like beer, surprisingly!

  9. volker says:

    BILK ? what the heck!? you should try to sell that in germany, would be funny 🙂

  10. ramblingsofaculturefreak says:

    yup…a lot of gross drinks in Japan….I stick to beer and whisky. Chuhai’s give me such of an awful headache!

  11. I really want a bottle of the Dead-Lizard Hooch.

    Really. It would be the most awesome topoff to this university student’s booze collection ever.

  12. roaf says:

    Yeah, make sure you don’t swallow the lizard if you drink straight from the bottle though!

  13. びっくり says:

    I think the lizard drink is imported, but I can’t clearly read the label in your photo. Probably from China; they drink ‘anything’ there.

  14. It’s likely similar to the worm in Tequila, eh?

    …Wait… How did you know I drink straight from the bottle…?

  15. roaf says:

    That’s what I do!

  16. Beer says:

    Wow, nice read man. Thanks for sharing! However I’m having trouble with ur rss feed. Does anyone else have problems with the rss?

  17. online storage free…

    […]The Weird and Wonderful World of Japanese Booze « Gaijin Tonic[…]…

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