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

Advertisements

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.


Little In Japan: The perils of meeting other gaijin on trains

February 2, 2011

Hello! Here’s another comic strip from Little in Japan.

This time it’s about the awkwardness of bumping into other gaijin on the train.

Check out more at littleinjapan.com.


Little in Japan: Webcomic about a hapless westerner in Japan

January 25, 2011

Hello! I’ve been working lately on a new webcomic called Little in Japan, about the misadventures of a particularly buffoonish westerner in Japan.
Here’s the info from the “about” page:

“Big in Japan”. Despite the cliché (and the groovy song by Alphaville), not every westerner who arrives in Japan is greeted with immediate and massive success, like Mr. Big somehow did. For every rock star who hits the big time in Tokyo, there are countless ordinary slobs floundering in the suburbs, teaching English. This webcomic is about one such guy. Dave Barker is a bumbling ex-pat who loves Japan, and he reluctantly and inexpertly teaches English in order to stay. Follow him as he tries to get by but fails at every turn, inadvertently offends Japanese sensibilities, and just generally makes a bit of a dick out of himself.

Have a look here.


Halloween in Tokyo 2010

October 8, 2010

The popularity of Halloween seems to be snowballing each year in Japan. Although this phenomenon is largely thanks to opportunistic sellers of pumpkin-based novelty tat, I don’t mind- I’m fully in favour of any festival where you don’t have to buy any presents, it’s acceptable to dress up as a gorilla and get drunk, and women wear raunchy Wonderwoman costumes.

If you want to see some eye-poppingly inventive costumes, I highly recommend checking out the Halloween parade at Kawasaki’s Citadella area on Sunday the 31st. Some of the more incredible costumes could only have been made by professional prosthetic make-up artists. The parade itself is more like a deranged gay Mari-Gras than a family festival, and involves a horde of hedonistic costumed revellers staggering after floats blasting out psychedelic trance music, to the bemusement of passing Sunday shoppers.
Here are some pics from a previous year.

The festivities kick off at 14:30, but if you want to enter the costume competition, you have to register for 12:30. (Although, I wouldn’t bother registering unless you’ve got some help from the Jim Henson creature workshop).
After the parade everybody hits nearby Club Citta for a big after party, with drinking and dancing, from 16:30.

Also that Sunday night is Wild Mood Swings, a free Halloween DJ party in Shibuya, from 7-midnight in Club Echo (which is at the end of Center Gai, on the left). I thoroughly recommend this (since I’m one of the DJs!) Come along to Shibuya Echo and dance like the re-animated corpse of Michael Jackson.

Meanwhile, Metropolis magazine have their annual Halloween Glitterball costume party, Double Trouble, in Vanity Lounge and Bar on Thursday 29th.
On Saturday the 30th, pretty much every club in Tokyo has a Halloween event, including Ageha, Womb, and Air, among others.

Also worth popping into, are some bars and restaurants that are creepy and ghoulish all year round. Here’s a list below:
Vampire Cafe, a bloodsucker-themed eaterie in Ginza.
Alcatraz ER, a bizarre place, styled like haunted prison hospital, in Shibuya.
3 Bozu Paradise, Yokohama’s Frankenstein restaurant.
Halloween, in Yokohama, a small bar where it’s Halloween every day.

If you’re looking for some daytime Halloween hi-jinks, there are the usual festivities going on at Tokyo Disneyand. And if you fancy a particularly weird day out, you can visit Yumenoshima Tropical Greenhouse Dome, a botanical garden on Tokyo’s Yume no Shima (Dream Island), where you can see and touch 50 giant pumpkins weighing up to 100kg, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. Apparently, on opening day, they had a contest to see who could spit pumpkin seeds the furthest, and an event in which people were raced down a hill by rolling giant pumpkins (like Indiana Jones at the beginning of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”). Sounds like my kind of place!


FC Drunkard

November 10, 2009

I’ve just discovered a soccer team with a great name.

FC Drunkard are based in Yokohama, and evidently play under the influence of a lot of alcohol. Well, it never stopped George Best!


Yokohama Oktoberfest

October 5, 2008

This week sees the return of Yokohama’s annual Oktoberfest celebrations. The German beer festival has already begun and will continue until October 13th near Minato Mirai station. It’s held in Aka Renga, the “red brick warehouse” which holds a peculiar fascination for the Japanese, but look like, well, an ordinary warehouse to me.

The Oktoberfest is always good fun, as only drinking prodigious quantities of beer can be. The organisers have even flown over a thigh-slapping German oom-pah band to entertain the boozers, resulting in the incongrous sight of men in lederhosen wandering around the futuristic streets of Minato Mirai.

You can buy German potatoes and sausages, and the selection of beers on sale is always terrific, (although, there is a confusing system whereby you have to pay a deposit for your glass, presumably to prevent drunk people from stealing the fancy tankards as souvenirs.)

The event gets more popular every year, and is heaving with revelers on weekends (many of whom tried to strike up conversations with me in German, but were disappointed to discover I’m English). This is fun, but the long lines for the portable toilets can put tremedous strain on a bladder bloated with pints of lager. I recommend going along on a week-night, when you can urinate with ease and, if you’re lucky, you might actually be able to sit down for a while.

Here’s the official website.