Land of the Rising Sunburn and Suntory Whiskey

July 22, 2009

Monday was “Ocean Day” in Japan, which means that the rainy season is officially over, and the summer has begun! Also on Monday it started raining for the first time in weeks and hasn’t stopped since.
All across the land there are beach bar and beer garden owners shaking their fists at the sky.
But they needn’t worry, because before long I’ll be showing up and emptying my wallet. (Unless they’ve got cheap all-you-can-drink-deals, in which case they’re truly buggered.)
Yes, summer is a always a great time for al-fresco beer-imbibing, wherever you are (except Saudi Arabia, where it’s punishable by several months in prison.)
All across Japan, department stores and hotels cover their roofs with tables, call them beer gardens, and let people go there and get pissed-up for not much money. A particular favourite of mine is the Kudan Kaikan in Kudanshita, on Tokyo’s Hanzomon line, (and that has nothing to do with the fact that the waitresses are dressed as playboy bunnies, honest.)

About an hour south of Tokyo is the Shonan beach area (where I used to live, an hour on the Odakyu line from Shinjuku) where you can sit back and sup beers and watch the sun set over the ocean, while people let off fireworks. Enoshima beach, while dirty and overcrowded, is a favourite destination of mine (and this has nothing to do with the fact that the beach is teeming with nubile college girls in bikinis, honest.)

If you despise the beach boozing because your beer gets warm in the sweltering summer heat, never fear- I’ve just learned (from Japanprobe) of an amazing new innovation which will solve your problem. An enterprising company has started selling beer mugs carved from ice, and you can buy them online for 580 yen. They last an hour in the sun, apparently.

And if you want to avoid the heat altogether, you can always pop into Ginza’s Ice Bar to cool down. It’s entirely full of ice, and is cold enough to freeze your nipples off.
I might go there, myself- it’ll be nice to stop sweating for the first time since May.