ANA’s New In-Flight Draft-Beer Service

July 13, 2010

The airline ANA are doing their best to make flying less tedious- as of July 20th, draft beer will be available on some of their domestic flights!
As Japan Probe has discovered, apparently they are the first airline to ever offer beer out of kegs.
The toliet queues will be worse, but the in-flight romantic comedies and episodes of Mr Bean might actually become watchable!
The catch is- they only offer 20 glasses of beer on each flight. So what am I going to drink for the other half of the journey?!

Tokyo Booze Bulletin

July 12, 2010

The latest act of one-upmanship between the Asahi and Kirin super-breweries comes from Asahi, who have decided to compete in the convenience stores with Kirin’s evil 8% chu-hai canned cocktails, by bringing out- you guessed it- 9% chu-hai. The 8% chu-hai already makes me retch as at is, so I dread to think what the new lethal concoction, names “Sparx”, tastes like. Industrial-strength paint stripper perhaps? University students are probably rejoicing, though.

Meanwhile, someone has made an fun educational video about the red lanterns that hang outside Japanese izakayas (traditional pubs). These “aka-chochin” lanterns always brighten up the streets and look groovy, even if their practical purpose- advertising what food/drink is inside- is lost on those unable to read them (either because they don’t understand kanji, or because they’ve been blinded by drinking 9% chu-hai.)

(Thanks to Japan Travel Examiner for that.)

Finally, The Fashionate Traveller has discovered a new bar, run by the hedonistic gothic-cosplay enthusiasts who run the demented Tokyo Decadence parties. Shinjuku’s new “Decadence Bar” is sure to be full of bizarrely dressed oddballs any day of the week, and is surprisingly cheap (free entry, no table charge, 500 yen per drink.)
I’m going to have to check this place out and report back on it, (although I might have to get some face paint, a wig and some piercings first.)

Here are some snaps and some info from the bar’s blog.

The bar is located in Tokyo, Shinjuku-ku, Kabukichou, more exactly at the Shinjuku “Christon Cafe” (Entrance on the 8th floor. The Bar is actually on the 9th floor)!!!
The atmosphere of the Bar is mysterious…and magical. You can enjoy delicious drinks & food, play some cool videogames, watch movies, dress up in costumes…Just a place to ENJOY and have FUN, for EVERYONE!

Jackson Five Bar

March 15, 2010

The other day I stumbled upon a Jackson Five-themed bar in Nakano, Tokyo. Groovy!

Perhaps the bar was named to commemorate the famous quintet’s epic 1979 concert in nearby Nakano Sun Plaza.
Unfortunately, the proprietors don’t stick too rigidly to the concept, as you can see from the sign: “we play trance, reggae, and hip-hop”. I don’t remember hearing any trance anthems by the Jackson Five!
However, the drinks are all four hundred yen during happy hour (from 6-9pm) which is fantastically cheap, and they’ve got a dartboard, so who’s complaining.

Jackson Five Bar:

東京都中野区中野5-67-12 SKビル B1F
More info (in Japanese) with a map: Jackson Five Bar

By coincidence, this week I also discovered Japan’s very own domestic answer to the Jackson Five, called “Finger 5”, who were great. Fronted by a pint-sized, bespectacled boy (who looks like a girl), and accompanied by his younger sister (who looks like a boy), and backed up by their three gangling teenage brothers, Okinawa’s Finger 5 made catchy bubblegum pop in the early seventies and had several smash hit singles (and even made four movies!) until an unsuccessful bid to crack America, combined with the inevitable onset of puberty and broken voices, put an end to their short-lived stardom.
Disappointingly, they all went on to lead normal lives, and didn’t become eccentric recluses, with pet monkeys and merry-go-rounds in their back gardens.
Check ’em out in action:

The New Craze – Chocolate Booze!

January 25, 2010

A trip to my local convenience store today revealed not one but two new chocolate-based alcoholic drinks, so I felt duty-bound to try them both and write about them here.

First is Sapporo’s new chocolate-flavoured beer, “Chocolat Brewery Bitter”. Each mouthful tasted nice for a second, then repulsive. Chocolate and beer, while yummy on their own, inherently don’t go together, and the taste was much like guzzling lager while munching on a Mars bar at the same time, which nobody ever does for a reason- it tastes grim. Now, if someone made curry beer or peanut beer…

After that I tried Asahi’s “Chocolat Cocktail” which isn’t really my kind of drink, but will probably be a success with chocolate-lovers and booze-curious teenagers, because it tastes exactly like chocolate milkshake, without a hint of alcohol to be detected (although the can claims it’s 4% proof.) The sweet-toothed will love Chocolat Cocktail, whereas Chocolat Brewery Bitter will taste horrific to beer-drinkers and chocolate-eaters alike.
But, once again, top marks for trying, Japan!

Japan January Booze Updates

January 14, 2010

While most folks on the planet spend January staggering around, broke and bleary eyed, nursing month-long hangovers and waiting until that distant payday, the party continues in Japan.
Here are some alcohol-related updates from the Land of the Rising Sun this month:

Monday was the annual “Coming of Age Day”, on which all the 20-year-olds dress up nicely and convene in town halls to celebrate their adulthood. 20 is the age when the Japanese can legally start getting pissed-up, and in recent years, alcohol-imbibing has invaded the traditionally more formally proceedings. This year was no exception, and Japan Probe reports of youngsters heckling the tedious speeches by small-town politicians. If they wanted to keep the crowd of excitable, hormonally-charged youths happy, organisers shoud have hired a DJ and a foam machine, rather than a 70-year-old dullard.
A Yokosuka politician revealed himself to be a reactionary old twot by having a hissy-fit of epic proportions while his disinterested audience chatted amongst themselves. Meanwhile, the mac-daddy mayor of Nagoya acted smooth and super-cool, signing autographs for stage invaders.

While we’re on the subject of drunken misbehaviour, Japan Probe also has a hidden camera video of the Japan’s most patient taxi-driver dealing with a sh*tfaced customer trying to kick him in the head. And the bounder didn’t even give him a tip!

Japanese beer drinkers don’t all lack class, though. The Asahi Newspaper reports that refined beer-sippers have doubled the sales of unusual local microbrews between 2003 and 2009. Some of the bizarre concoctions they mention include weird ingredients such as red miso, matcha green powdered tea, and yeast found in honey. Yum yum!

The Sydney Morning Herald have printed list of Tokyo boozers they recommend you check out. There are some fine tips for bars in Shinjuku’s “Piss Alley” and “Golden Gai”, but Shibuya’s Echo and Trump Room are both event spaces rather than bars, so if you go you may very well arrive and either get turned away from a private party, or find yourself attending an obscure event like “Scatman John Night”.

Speaking of events, you can see me spinning some top tunes in a highly inexpert way alongside my friends’ excellent bands Abi-Kyokan and Walkie Talkie in the Cornfield at “The Farm Party” at Gamuso in Asagaya on Sunday the 31st. It’s organized by Tokyo Gig Guide, and you can find all the details there.

Finally, another event (taking place on the 16th at Shibuya’s Rocknococoro bar) has made a nice flyer mocking the anti-naughtiness “Please Do It at Home” signs that can be found on trains in Japan. These repressive signs always make me think “Please pull the stick out of your arse and chillax,” so it’s nice to see them being sent up.

Matrix-Style Sapporo Ads

October 22, 2009

Mari at “Watashi To Tokyo” has posted some groovy Sapporo commericals from a few years ago, featuring amazingly agile and dextrous beer-drinkers, leaping about in Matrix-style slo-mo.

But when I’ve knocked back a few Sapporro, I’m more inclined to move like this guy.

Kirin’s “Cola Shock”

July 7, 2009

Another day, another product from Kirin, a company whose employees are required to have the imagination of Willy Wonka.
Not content with being responsible for countless teenagers vomiting their dinner up after guzzling their lethally cheap and strong 8% chu-hai, the malevolent Oompa-Loompas at Kirin have come up with an equally deadly concoction- alcoholic cola! It’s called “Cola Shock”. This is an idea so simple and marketable, that the “shock” is that it doesn’t exist already.

It’s such a ridiculously obvious idea that I can only assume that drinks manufacturers have, until now, had an unwritten agreement with each other to restrain themselves from producing Cola chu-hai, because the potential appeal to teens would be of concern to parents. Plus, youngsters might drink “Cola Shock”, mistaking it for ordinary cola. It would be a “shock” in itself, discovering that young Yuta had been unwittingly drinking booze for weeks, had developed a fierce alcohol-dependency, and was raiding the drinks cabinet and waking up shaking with the DTs, begging for a shot of whisky on his coco-pops before nursery school.
But, times are hard, and perhaps someone at Kirin finally stood up in the boardroom and said “F*ck it, profits are down. I’m going to come right out and say it. It’s finally time to unleash the alcoholic coke!”

I spotted “Cola Shock” in the convenience store and decided to give it a try. It’s actually drinkable, which is to say, if you like the idea of cola chu-hai, you won’t be disappointed (connoisseurs of fine wine won’t be singing its praises). I mean, it’s sickly and acidic, but no more than your standard cheap supermarket cola mixed with Bacardi or Rum. Ice helps dramatically.
Expect an imitation from Asahi within a month!