Little in Japan: Dead Sensei Society

November 26, 2012


There’s another new comic on Little In Japan. This time, Dave’s mundane existence in Japan gets a little bit shittier than usual.
Read more here:

Japanese Booze News: Feb 2012

February 10, 2012

A nicely-named bar in Sannomiya, Kobe.

Hi, pals. Since this blog seems to get more traffic now than when I was actually writing it, I may as well start posting again. One afternoon a couple of weeks ago, 63,000 people checked out a story I wrote 3 years ago. It’s a bit like everyone buying Amy Winehouse’s records after she died. Well, I’m back from the grave!

I really should overhaul the look of this blog sometime soon, as well. The site is starting to look like some kind of archaic cyber-relic, like Friendster. Anyway, I’ll try updating a few times a week from now on, starting with a random assortment of booze-related bits and pieces below:

First off, the guys at Bridges (a weekly showcase of single content creators and their content) have kindly made a vlog about this very site. Check it out here. Very nice of them!

Next up, a friend of mine sent me a link to this epic list of brew pubs in the Tokyo and Yokohama area. As a lover of lager, ale, and stout, there are plenty of places on the list to help me further expand my gargantuan beer belly. I can definitely recommend Popeye’s in Ryugoku, which has over 70 beers on tap. I go there so often that the beer-bloat makes me comparable to the neighbourhood sumo wrestlers. The Aldgate in Shibuya is another of my regular haunts (they also sell amazing Cornish pasties), and the Thrash Zone is a really welcoming heavy-metal beer bar in Yokohama.

Also, I’ve only just noticed that CNNGO has been publishing lots of informative drinking-related articles in recent months, so I thought I’d post a couple here:
Here’s a helpful piece about the etiquette of drinking in Tokyo bars. The rules must only apply to the up-scale Ginza cocktail bars that I’m too skint to visit, however, because they are routinely broken in the grungy backstreet dives I end up in, where the locals can be seen blithely stripping naked, projectile vomiting, and playing Pop-Up-Pirate on even the rainiest Tuesday night.

And here’s another nice article, featuring three religion-themed watering holes in Tokyo, where you can be served by the likes of Buddhist monks or protestant ladies. I’m particularly keen to visit Yurei Izakaya (“The Ghost Bar”), a morbidly-themed bar in Kichijoji, which has miraculously escaped my attention until now. Their Russian-roulette kushiage skewers (one on each dish is packed with super-intense wasabi) is their claim to fame apparently!

Here are a couple more from CNNGO:
Why Japanese Bartenders Are the World’s Best
Tokyo to Yokohama on a 40-kilometer bar crawl

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Drunk

May 16, 2011

Hello! I thought I’d better post something here, since a few readers have mailed me asking if I’m I’m still alive and in Japan. Yes and yes, although I’m feeling barely alive, since I’ve spent the last couple of months doing my best to help recover the weakened Japanese economy, by buying lots of drinks. I’ve attended various hanami parties, Golden Week parties, other people’s sayonara parties, and Tohoku earthquake/tsunami fundraising parties. I even won a yard-of-ale downing competition in an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day.

After the horrors of recent months, I’ve learned some important things. They are thus:
-Shibuya Shakey’s Pizza has all-you-can-drink beer for 500 yen.
-The waitresses at the Grade A bar in Yokohama’s Camelot Hotel now wear sexy bunny-girl costumes.

Mayonnaise Margheritas

September 3, 2008

Oh blimey, what next? Koji Nakamura, a typically inventive Japanese bartender in Tokyo, makes cocktails with mayonnaise. You might think he was incredibly drunk when he came up with the idea, but Koji is obsessed with mayo and even runs a restaurant in Western Tokyo called “Mayonnaise Kitchen” (the Japanese actually have a name for mayonnaise fanatics- mayolers.)
Koji’s creamy cocktails include the “Mayogarita”, and the “Mayoty Dog” (which has mayo instead of salt around the rim.)
I’d have to be pretty far gone to drink one of these horrific concoctions, and have a sick bucket close at hand.

More at Reuters.

Mayonnaise Kitchen Homepage.

Japanese Drinking Legends No.2: Ryuu Sasakura

June 11, 2007

This is the second in my occasional series of tributes to Japanese booze heroes. Rather worryingly, I’m only at number two and already I’m reduced to writing about a fictional character. Ryuu Sasakura is the altruistic hero of the Japanese comic book and animation series “Bartender.”

Ryuu is a genius cocktail maker, who runs a bar named “Eden Hall”. He is so skilled at mixing drinks that his cocktails are known as the “Glass of the Gods.”
Ryuu is a selfless character, a bit like the guy in “Highway to Heaven,” the guy in “Quantum Leap” or the dog in “The Littlest Hobo.” In each episode of the TV show, various troubled misfits come into his bar and tell him their problems. Ryuu then helps them out, always in a way that is tenuously connected to whatever cocktail is featured that week. For example, one week he cheers up a guy who’s having trouble with his boss… by mixing him a daiquiri. In another episode, he cheers up a grieving widower… by mixing him a margarita.

Unsurprisingly, to date the show has only run to eleven episodes. How many alcohol-related story-lines can the producers come up with? What next? Ryuu shows a customer the importance of patience by making them wait three minutes for a pint of Guinness to settle? Ryuu holds back a shit-faced customer’s hair while she pukes into the sink, to demonstrate the power of trust? Nevertheless, Ryuu is yet another shining example of the admirable Japanese trait of taking enormous pride in your job, and for that, he deserves a toast.

Here’s the official Bartender website.

Highlander and Eggnog

June 7, 2007

I’ve just discovered the Wikipedia page about Sake-based cocktails. There are some unusual recipes for people feeling adventurous or masochistic.

One cocktail I noticed was the ridiculous “Duncan McLeod”, a cocktail named after a character in the television programme “Highlander,” a spin-off from the movie of the same name. What an unbelievably obscure reference! The movie would have been an odd enough choice to name a cocktail after, but the TV show…?

The “Duncan McLeod” cocktail consists of equal parts sake, scotch whisky and coke. The cola represents the English actor (he’s called Adrian Paul, apparently,) the whisky is his Scottish character in the show, and the sake is the Japanese samurai sword he brandishes. I’m reminded of Highlander’s catchphrase, “There can be only one!” Presumably he was referring to the Duncan McLeod Cocktail- who’d want to drink that twice?!

The other cocktail which caught my eye was the truly grotesque “Nog-a-Sake”, which is three parts sake and one part eggnog. This horrific concoction could only have been conceived by a desperate alcoholic with an almost-bare liquor cabinet on Christmas day. Still, it might be a good way to make use of unwanted bottles of eggnog and sake which you’ve received as Christmas presents.

“Japanese” Cocktails

May 1, 2007

I recently learned of a cocktail known as “The Japanese Cocktail.” Nobody knows how the cocktail received its name (including my local Japanese bartenders, who’ve never heard of it) but it appeared in the first ever bar-tending book, “How To Mix Drinks” (1867) by Jerry Thomas.
Suffice to say, it probably isn’t actually Japanese. According to, “The Japanese Cocktail is a wonderful cocktail that is very easy to make. It’s slightly sweet almond flavor makes it a very approachable cocktail for almost anybody.”
Here’s the recipe:
* 2 ounces brandy
* 1/2 ounce orgeat (almond syrup)
* 2 dashes Angostura bitters
Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Sounds good! Unfortunately, orgeat and Angostura bitters are not easy to get hold of in these parts, so I won’t be trying it anytime soon.

Another cocktail, which I have actually tried, is “the Japanese Slipper.” It’s quite easy to get the ingredients for this one, (including Midori, a sweet melon cordial made by Suntory.)
Here’s the recipe from the International Bartenders Association (IBA) website:

JAPANESE SLIPPER (cocktail glass )
3.0 cl. Midori
3.0 cl. Cointreau
3.0 cl. Lemon juice
Add all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of honeydew melon.

The Japanese Slipper is rather sweet and fruity- a little girly for my taste. Much more up my street is “the Kamikaze,” another cocktail which I highly doubt originates in Japan, but is guaranteed to get the party started. Here’s the recipe for that, also from the IBA site-

KAMIKAZE (cocktail glass )
3.0 cl. Vodka
3.0 cl. Cointreau
3.0 cl. Lemon juice
Add all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Why not try all three inauthentic Japanese cocktails in a row to jump start your evening? Might be a laugh.