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

Silly Sake Gadget.

March 8, 2007

Here’s an amusing liquor-related invention from Japan – a USB key for computers, in the shape of a sake bottle. Guaranteed to distract alcoholic salarymen from their work, and constantly keep the destructive thought of booze alive in their minds. Smart thinking!

This was made by SolidAlliance, a mental company who also brought us such genius contraptions the “Kobe Beef business-card holder” and the rice “omelette mouse cover.”
You can read more about them at Akihabara News

Japanese Teens and Beer-Machines

March 6, 2007

You can still buy beer in vending machines on the street in some places in Japan, but miraculously the kids don’t take advantage. Imagine if such an easy, no-ID-required method of obtaining beer were available in the West- there would be belligerent, shitfaced youths slumped in every street corner, in pools of puke and piss, shouting inanities, rising occasionally to kick in the machines for another beer-buzz. When I asked some Japanese teens why they don’t do this they replied “Oh, that’s because we can’t. It’s against the rules.” Simple as that.
Japanese teens, god bless them, don’t get up to anything worse than giggling in public, (and that’s only the real hardcore rebels.)

Elderly Japanese folks are often whingeing about the state of young people these days, cataloguing gripes about their appalling conduct. Chief among the adolescents’ heinous offences seem to be “sitting on the ground in train stations” (gasp!), “speaking loudly on the telephone,” or…wait for it… “applying their make-up on the train”. Heaven forbid!
Well, if that`s the worst of it, the old wrinklies should count themselves lucky. Compared to the sociopathic, pizza-faced delinquents we have to endure in the rest of the world, Japanese teenagers are sweethearts.

Hip Hop Clubbing in Yokohama

March 5, 2007

Hip-hop, especially of the domestic variety, is huge in Yokohama. In fact, it’s pretty difficult to avoid, blaring from the windows of newly pimped-out cars, or from the beatboxes of teenagers in over-sized sportswear break-dancing with their reflections in shop windows. J-Hop (or Nip-Hop) is the most happening scene right now. The most popular venue is the evergreen “Yokohama Bay Hall”, the place to be for fans of the amusingly-named local scenesters such as Butcher, Rude Bwoy Face, H-Man, and Moomin.

In Bayhall, you can marvel at Japan’s uninhibited hip-hop fashion at it’s most shameless. Expect lots of girls in flat-caps and terry-towelling jumpsuits, and boys in back-to-front baseball-caps, super-sized jeans and absurdly voluminous T-shirts (thanks to these guys I can buy clothes which actually fit in Japan.) A lack of restraint, and the absence of vocal “player-haters” in Japan has led to a flamboyant street-style of it’s own. It’s OTT and old-skool, and Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav, not previously respected for his sartorial taste, seems to be the style-guru of choice.

There’s an almost entirely Japanese crowd in Bayhall, but it’s a good-natured, friendly scene, despite the moody gangster affectations. Although the rappers have copied the posturing and delivery wholesale from their US counterparts, the gangster ethic has been lost in translation. Most of the lyrics are about love and life-affirmation. For example, one popular local act is called “Murder One”, but they’re more likely to be found in Tokyo Disneyland than in court for a homicide trial. I bet they don’t even litter. Real Japanese gangsters have curly perms and listen to enka.

Yokohama Bayhall

3-4-17 Shin-Yamashita, Naka-Ku, Yokohama-Shi 231-0801
(045) 624-3900

Tripping in Tokyo

March 5, 2007

Visitors to Japan tend to fall prey to the power of booze rather than narcotics, thanks to the scarcity and astronomically high cost of drugs in Japan. That, and terrifying rumours of ludicrously harsh prison sentences for drugs offenses, in jails where inmates get whipped senseless with rubber hoses and have large objects shoved up their bums by cackling sadist guards. Yikes.
So I was surprised recently when a group of English teachers employed by NOVA corporation, were busted for cocaine possession. And I’d like to know how they can afford coke on a teacher’s salary!

When I first came to Japan a few years ago, magic mushrooms were readily available in “head” shops throughout the country, but annoyingly they were banned in time for the 2002 world cup, due to fear of hallucinating foreigners wreaking havoc.
Still, if you’re really desperate, there is readily available a repulsive-tasting legal liquid E concoction. It’s sold in bottles claiming to contain massage-oil, by furtive-looking vendors on the streets of Tokyo. This stuff makes you go nuts for about twenty hours, so you may find yourself boogieing until the next afternoon in sordid after-parties full of recently clocked-off nighclub hostesses and strippers, (which isn’t so bad!) But, on the down side, you also get chronic diarreah.

Papa Don’t Preach

February 20, 2007

Here’s a amusingly-named bar in Kawasaki City. Presumably it’s what the people inside say when their Dads come to take them home.

Shark Tank

February 14, 2007

Across Japan there are countless unconventionally-themed novelty bars, which make drinking all the more enjoyable. For instance, I’ve been to a Luther Vandross-themed nighclub, a Frankenstein bar, and a truly macabre restaurant modelled on a prison hospital where, upon arrival, you are handcuffed by girls in nurse-outfits and led to a cell in which you can drink cocktails from test tubes and eat food served in bedpans. A classy joint.

I’ve also been to a bar named “Real” in Fujisawa city, where my table was balanced on top of a large water-tank containing two small, live sharks. I looked down through the perspex at the scary beasts swimming around beneath me while I sipped whiskey. It was like something you’d find in the lair of an evil criminal-mastermind from a James Bond film. It was hard not to imagine the floor sliding away, dropping me to my bloody doom. Later, when I was wasted, I got kicked out of the bar for jumping up and down on the perspex to see if it would break. (I’m a complete dickbrain.)

Bar Real, Fujisawa 23 Bldg 201, 1-4-3, Kugenumaishigami, Fujisawa 251-0025
Tel: 0466-26-4336