There’s no way around it: alcohol is often an important part of social life in Japan, and there’s even a word for the special kind of interchange of ideas that occurs over beers after work: “nomunication,” combining the Japanese word for drink (nomu) with “communication.” One interesting phenomenon is how quickly foreigners coming to Japan pick up vocabulary related to drinking, since drinking socially is often one of the first things you do in a new country. One of the first phrases I learned after arriving here was toriaezu biiru (toh-ree-AH-eh-zu BII-ru), meaning “Let’s start with beer,” a good way to order while letting your server know you’ll be adding some food items to the order presently. You quickly learn words like bin biiru (beer in a bottle, good for pouring drinks for each other in a group) and nama biiru (draft beer in a big mug). Any food that you munch on with your beer is called otsumami (oh-tsu-mah-mii), and the Japanese love to eat exotic izayaka foods like asparagus wrapped in bacon, yakitori chicken cooked on skewers and a fish called hokke (HOK-keh), which the Internet tells me is called Atka Mackerel although I never knew what it was called in English. Of course, beer isn’t the only beverage consumed: sake (pronounced SAH-keh, never “saki”) is also popular. Known by its formal name nihonshu, one of the most popular ways to drink it is hot, which is called atsukan (AHTS-kahn). Incidentally, we stock some rather interesting products related to beer and sake, if you want to browse them.
Some random thoughts on beer and sake in Japan.