It’s been a little while since I last posted, but I’ve finally settled into my dorm at Kansai Gaidai so I can get down to some serious posting again. More on Kansai Gaidai later though, today I want to do what I promised to do and talk about alcohol in Japan. I mention drinking a lot, don’t I? I wonder if there are any AA meetings in Osaka, I really should check that out.
I don’t know about other countries, but I assume that most of the very small reading population I have is from Australia. Americans or Canadians might not be able to sympathise with this, but in Australia taxes are killer – especially the ones attached to alcohol and cigarettes. I won’t talk too much about cigarettes because I don’t smoke, but I know that a packet of cigarettes costs at least $20 in Australia. Most cigarette brands in Japan only cost about the equivalent of $5 so just from that comparison even non-smokers can see how much it hurts to smoke in Australia. But I digress…back to alcohol. When I first came to Japan at age 16 I was so surprised at how inexpensive alcohol is in Japan. Beer is priced closely to beer back in Australia so there’s not much to say there(as much as I love Japanese beer). Spirit pricing is where Japan really shines, or maybe more aptly where Australia really falters.
Before I left Tokyo I decided to take a trip to Bic Camera and check out some of the alcohol prices. Below I’ve given the prices for 12 common drinks along with the Japanese price in yen, the Japanese price converted to Australian dollars and the Australian price. This information is a week or two old but I’m sure you’ll get the idea.
- Johnnie Walker Black Label – (2080￥) $25 / $47
- Johhnie Walker Green Label – (3680￥) $45 / $67
- Chivas Regal 12 Years – (2180￥) $26.50 / $48
- J&B Rare Scotch Whiskey – (1280￥) $15 / $35
- Kahlua – (1080￥) $13 / $30
- Bacardi Superior – (1180￥) $14 / $30
- Jaegermeister – (2180￥) $26.50 / $39
- Smirnoff Red Label – (1050￥) $13 / $29
- SKYY Vodka – (1080￥) $13 / $33
- Cointreau – (2080￥) $25 / $46
- Bombay Sapphire – (1580￥) $19 / $40
- Baileys Original – (1580￥) $19 / $29
So if you aren’t Australian, I hope you at least feel sorry for Australians. The gap in pricing between drinking at home and going to a local is almost narrow enough to warrant going out to drink. The situation, funnily enough, is similar in Japan. No, I’m not saying it’s expensive to drink at home in private in Japan. I’m saying it’s fucking cheap to drink out. Especially if you’re a foreigner and can empty 7 to 10 glasses in an hour. They call it ‘nomihodai’, which basically means ‘all you can drink’. At a set price you can go to a Japanese bar and drink for an hour or two, without any limits. Usually you’re given a wide menu of drinks that include traditional Japanse liquor, cocktails, shots and beer. The cheapest nomihodai I’ve ever come across was 999yen for 2 hours, it was really something. I remember that our table ordered 8 drinks in our final round, damn some foreign people can be so rude!
Every time I go to nomihodai with other foreigners I imagine a Japanese accountant in the back rooms of the bar furiously punching numbers into a calculator only to realize, and exclaim to the bar staff, ‘we’ll go bankrupt if these guys keep drinking here! get them out!’. I haven’t been kicked out of a Japanese bar yet, so we’ll see how far my outright abuse of nomihodai can take me…More posts coming soon, I’ll be trying to post about 2 or 3 times a week now. Stay tuned.