Japanese drinking culture

In recent times, Japanese whiskey and sake, among other beverages, have gained popularity overseas. However, the nuances of the relationship between the Japanese and alcohol may not be widely known outside Japan. Details such as the types of alcohol Japanese people prefer and the situations in which they enjoy drinking are not well-documented internationally. This article aims to shed light on the drinking culture of the Japanese, providing insights into their preferences and the contexts in which they partake in alcoholic beverages.

Japanese drinking culture

Firstly, what types of alcohol do Japanese people enjoy? According to a survey conducted in 2019, approximately 45% of Japanese people consume alcohol at least once a week. The rate of daily alcohol consumption is also around 20%, indicating a significant affinity for alcoholic beverages.

On the other hand, there is a trend of decreasing alcohol consumption among younger age groups. In fact, younger individuals tend to drink less compared to older demographics. This suggests a generational shift in drinking habits, with the younger population showing a lower inclination toward alcohol consumption.

What alcoholic drink do Japanese prefer?

According to a survey conducted in 2022, the ranking of popular alcoholic beverages in Japan is as follows:

  1. Beer
  2. Shochu and Chuhai (shochu-based cocktail)
  3. Wine
  4. Sake

The top position of Japanese beer, particularly brands like Kirin and Asahi, both domestically and internationally, is perhaps unsurprising given their widespread popularity.

The second spot being held by “Chuhai,” a cocktail made by mixing distilled shochu (with an alcohol content of approximately 25%) with lemon juice and carbonated water, reflects its popularity among the younger demographic. Its varied flavors contribute to its appeal.

It’s somewhat unexpected that wine is more popular than sake, but this may be influenced by the growing prevalence of Western cuisine in Japan. Wine’s versatility and compatibility with a wide range of dishes could be contributing to its rising popularity.

Of course, sake still holds its own popularity, being widely served in izakayas (Japanese pubs) and traditional Japanese restaurants. The diverse preferences showcased in this ranking illustrate the richness and variety within Japan’s drinking culture.

Where do people drink?

Japanese people enjoy drinking in various settings and ways. While izakayas, traditional Japanese pubs that serve a variety of dishes alongside drinks, remain popular, there has been a recent trend towards enjoying alcohol at home. Supermarkets offer a wide selection of affordable alcoholic beverages, contributing to the growing popularity of drinking at home. This shift allows individuals to relax and socialize with family and friends in the comfort of their own homes, creating a more intimate and casual drinking experience.

What foods do people drink with?

When drinking at izakayas, popular choices include beer and shochu highballs, and people often order a variety of small dishes that can be shared and pair well with the drinks. Examples of such dishes include karaage (fried chicken), edamame, yakitori (grilled chicken skewers), and sashimi.

On the other hand, when enjoying drinks at home, beer remains a common choice, but highballs made by mixing whiskey are also popular. Some people host home parties and prepare dishes that complement the alcohol. Additionally, popular snacks include rice crackers known as “kaki no tane” and dried seafood such as squid, octopus, and whitefish.

At last

How was that? Foreign visitors coming to Japan might not have much information about Japanese alcoholic beverages and snacks, so I hope this article provides some insights into Japanese drinking habits.

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