Japanese Monkey Waiters

October 29, 2008

Amazingly, there’s a pub in Tochigi prefecture with two monkey waiters.

I fully intend to check this place out some time. I wonder if they go ape-shit if you don’t leave a tip.

Booze News

October 29, 2008

Japan marketing News has had a lot of good alcohol-related stories lately. They recently reported that Japanese izakayas (traditional pub/ restaurants) such as Toritetsu are starting to install play areas for kids.

I’m not sure how I feel about screaming toddlers in the pub on a Saturday, but I suppose such play areas are common in European beer gardens, and at least it’s better than leaving the little’uns baking in the car with the windows rolled up, as pachinko-addicted parents are prone to do, if the newspapers are anything to go by.
I wonder if the kids will be drinking the hilarious kids’ beer, Kodomo No Nomimono.

The same site reports that a new ginger-flavoured beer from Asahi has come out, backed by a trendy marketing campaign. I never get jaded with products in Japan- they’re changing every other week. Each new trip to the convenience store is a voyage of discovery. “Asahi Ginger Draft” is actually rather tasty, but I’d better not get too attached, because it’ll probably disappear by Christmas, replaced by turkey-flavoured egg-nog-soda or something.

Also, most excitingly, in December Kirin will be releasing two limited-edition cans of beer to celebrate their 120th anniversary. These classy lagers will be recreations of the brews the company produced when they first started, when their beer didn’t contain dubious things like starch or rice that are in today’s brews. This New Year’s Eve I’ll be loading up on these beers and partying like it’s 1899.

Kawasaki Halloween Pics 2008

October 27, 2008

Here are some of my usual out-of-focus snaps, of this year’s Halloween festival in Kawasaki.

Yogurt Pepsi

October 27, 2008

Today I tried Pepsi’s new yogurt-flavoued pop. It tastes a little like cow piss, …I mean Calpis, and a lot like cream soda.

It’s actually unexpectedly tasty, much like last year’s Cucumber Pepsi. But I’m not known for my taste.

Halloween in Tokyo 2008: Vampires, S & M, and Ozzy Osbourne

October 23, 2008

Yay- It’s time for Halloween- yet another festival that has passed through Japan’s cultural filters and morphed into something fun, idiosyncratic and weird. Halloween is brilliant in Tokyo- all the wild parties, horror movies and costumes, without any pesky trick-or-treating kids getting in the way. I wrote about Halloween in Japan last year here.

There are plenty of suitably spooky places to go- as well as various venues that are creepy all year round, such as Shibuya’s Alcatraz ER (a prison hospital-themed restaurant/bar) or the gothic Vampire cafe, there are loads of parties and freaky festivities you might like to check out.

Feeling adventurous? How about “EROTICA HALLOWEEN 2008” on the 31st at Club Warehouse 702, described by the promoters as “A Haunted World Beyond Your Imagination…Enjoy all night non stop EROTICA show, DJs, S&M play area, tarot fortune telling. Win 300,000 JPY at costume competition. Costume judgment by DRAG QUEENs. DRESS CODE : Fetish Clothing, Bondage, Corset, Sexy Nurse, Nylon, Gothic, Leather, Rubber, Drag…e.t.c.”

Truly demented.
If your bondage gear is still at the dry cleaners, don’t worry. There are lots of less weird, but no less wild club events in Tokyo at Pure (where it’s all-you-can-drink all night once you’ve paid to get in) on the 31st, a techno rave-up at Differ, Ariake also on the 31st, Metropolis Magazine‘s “Glitterball” costume shindig on October 30th at Club Womb, which they’ve been promoting the hell out of since about June (the main attraction being an insane 5 hour all-you-can-drink deal for 2500 yen. Dangerous!) and a huge party at Shinkiba’s cavernous Ageha (click here to read a guy’s antics at Ageha last Halloween.)

If you want to do the Monster Mash to some live music, you could head to Zepp Tokyo in Odaiba on the 30th and 31st to see special Halloween performances by the bands VAMPS, Tommy heavenly6, Monoral and Acid Black Cherry among others, at the “Nightmare of Halloween” event. Alternatively you could check out the devilish darkwave duo, Aural Vampire at Differ Ariake on the 31st. Aural Vampire resemble an unholy partnership between Jason Vorhees and a voluptuous Victorian vamp.

And what could be more appropriate for Halloween than a performance by none other than Ozzy Osbourne, shuffling around, yelling “Sharon!” and biting the heads off bats, in the Nippon Budokan on October 27th.

If this after-hours hedonism is too rich for you, you could always pay a visit to good old Tokyo Disneyland, and check out Mickey’s not-very-scary parade. The calendar of events at Tokyo Disneyland is here.

I’m always up for a gathering, but I think I’ll give the notorious guerilla-style Yamanote line Halloween train party a miss- it sounds about as fun as my daily commute to work, with the added annoyance of being stuck in the middle of a volatile mix of over-excited, vomiting teens, and enraged, xenophobic kill-joys.
No thanks! I’m more than happy to pay the extra few yen to get into a club with cocktails, a large dancefloor, and nubile women in WonderWoman costumes.

If you’re going to be in nearby Yokohama, you could dine in discomfort in 3 Bozu Cafe, a poky Frankenstein-themed eatire, surrounded by pictures and statues of the un-dead green guy, or pay a visit to a bar which is actually called “Halloween” all year round.

I always try to attend the Kawasaki Halloween festival, which features a parade of folks wearing the most inventitive and outlandish costumes you could ever hope to see, guzzling cans of chu-hai and staggering like escapees from hell through the city streets behind floats blasting out trance music.

After the parade, everyone convenes in Kawasaki’s Club Citta for a crazy party which, last year, featured a performance from a funky 70s covers band with afros.
The parade is on Sunday the 26th, from 14:30 to 16:00 around Kawasaki’s Cittadella area, then the after party’s from 17:00-22:00 in Club Citta (entrance is 1500 yen.)
I wrote about it last year here, and click here for the official site.

Wine Noodles

October 22, 2008

In Japan, alcohol and ramen noodles are inextricably linked. After hitting the pubs, Japanese salarymen stumble into a ramen shop for a bowl of steaming noodles to suck up the booze in their bellies. The Japanese equivalent of the kebab.
Now those piss-heads can rejoice- a company in Hokkaido has made instant noodles mixed with wine, allowing the wino businessmen to kill two birds with one stone. Tokachi Niitsu Seimen company has joined up with the local Tokappu wine makers, to mix instant ramen with white wine.

It sounds unnervingly like something that might be spewed out of a drunken businessman on a Friday night, but I suppose it has potential as a hangover cure – noodles combined with “hair of the dog.”

Read more at Ampontan

Japanese Booze Stats

October 21, 2008

The site “What Japan Thinks” has recently posted surveys held to find out Japan’s chuhai (alco-pop) and beer imbibing habits. Here are some of the facts they learned:

62.2% of folks polled admitted to guzzling the sickly Japanese alcopops known as chu-hai (20.5% guzzling the acidic stuff down every week), with Kirin Hyoketsu being the most popular brand.

Based on the packaging, a deluded 7% thought Chu-Hai looked healthy, which might explain the popularity, although 10.9% considered chu-hai feminine (which would deter blokes who don’t want to look wussy.)

Meanwhile, the most popular beer, by far, was Asahi Super Dry, with Kirin Ichiban Shibori trailing in second place. Asahi Super Dry also has the most popular TV ads, too.

Reassuringly, 18.8% of people aren’t fussed about brands when drinking beer. Who cares? Let’s drink!

Check out all the facts and figures here.