Learn How to Drink for Less in Japan!

The More You Know About Drinking Booze for Cheap in Japan the Better!

Was published here as a guest post, decided to share it here too!

Japan is a mysterious and wondrous place that I believe that everyone should check out at least once throughout their life. The beauty of the island can bring almost a tear to one’s eye. But after seeing the sights of the day, there is a common theme that everyone loves to do in Japan. Go out to eat! Many times the locals will visit a local izakaya, which is similar to a gastropub. You can sit in the midst of the locals while ordering popular dishes like yakisoba, yakitori, okonomiyaki, ramen, sushi or even get some western delicacies like a hamburger (which isn’t the same as you’re used to) or a pizza.

In many of these izakaya’s (and many restaurants), you’ll find an option where you can drink yourself under the table for 90 minutes of non-stop drinks. It’s called nomihodai. It’s a favorite choice for the locals, but it’s something that westerns are anxious to try as they’ve never heard of such a thing, and because of that, you can almost see the cringe in the person’s face who owns the izakaya/restaurant when a group of westerns orders nomihodai. Japanese usually use some restraint when ordering nomihodai (not all mind you), westerns will leave not remembering how they got there.

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Nomihodai usually costs (depending on the location) around ¥1,500 to ¥2,500 yen or around $15 to $25. There is usually different levels of nomihodai you can purchase. There are usually two distinct options; you can get all you can drink shochu highball soda drinks, wine and happoshu beer (or what I like to call fake beer). Then there is usually an option where you can order sake and nama biru, which is draft beer (or what I like to call REAL beer), I would say unless you’re a wine drinker you should take the second option, your liver will thank you.

Many of the times you’ll be required to have a certain amount of people in your group order nomihodai as well as having a minimum food order. So as you may think ordering a nomihodai could be the best bet, you’ll have to factor in multiple people and food order. So if you’re planning on going out with a group and ordering food, this would no doubt be your best bet. But, still, in the end, you’ll quickly put away $30-$50 a person for the night, which honestly is still not too bad considering you’re drowning your liver in lushish alcohol for 120 minutes non-stop WHILE eating.

But for those who don’t have that type of money but still want to have their alcohol kick and go out for the night, there is another trick that even local Japanese people don’t give much thought of, and it’s called pre-game. Well, at least that’s what some Americans here in Japan told me it’s called and they even admitted they don’t do it (but now are). Pre-game drinking is where you go to a コンビニ (convenience store) or a スーパー (supermarket) and purchase your beer or alcohol there first. The difference in price is pretty substantial. When you order a single beer in about any restaurant, a 12 oz glass of beer usually will run you about $5-$8. Where as you can get yourself a 16 oz can of beer from a スーパー (supermarket) for about $2.20 to $3 and about $2.90 to $3.60 at a コンビニ (convenience store).

So you can easily purchase around $10 in liquor and drink one or two of them before entering and then “step out” of the restaurant when you want to crack the next one and down it and go back in. I will never personally open a beer inside their business as I believe that’s stepping over the line, and perhaps this way of drinking for less in Japan might bend people’s ethic muscles a bit. I think it’s fair enough though, and people bring their own cigarettes so why not bring your own beer and step out for a minute? So when you save that extra money, you’ll be able to order more food in the long run, or not have to order as much just to drink while drinking out in Japan. Thus, saving you TONS of money drinking while in Japan.

Nihon Scope

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Fukuoka Tower the Softbank Hawks & the Beach

Photo by: Fukuoka NOW

Fukuoka Tower the Softbank Hawks & the Beach

Here is our Facebook pictures of the day.

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This last Sunday a friend of my wife and I whose living in the same shared housing unit went to a game in Hakata, Fukuoka (Japan). We first went to the Yahoo! Dome and watched the Softbank Hawks take on a win against the Hanshin Tigers. I guess A LOT of people like the Hanshin Tigers and it was a big turn out and there were almost more Tiger uniforms running around then Softbank hawks, so it was fun to watch them lose :D.

Baseball in Japan is certainly different then in America (for me at least), where I’m use to going to Coorsfield and watching the Colorado Rockies lose to the Arizona Diamondbacks over and over again while taking a nap, waking up and having a hot dog and a beer. Here in Japan everyone is chants, playing trumpets and waving flags…. Constantly! So even if you wanted to take a nap, there is no way it would happen. It’s much like how a football game would go say at Mile-High Stadium in Denver when the Bronco’s are having a good season.

The end results was Hanshin Tiger’s 2 and the Softbank Hawks 5. I have to say though, I saw some really amazing plays that I would expect to see on a YouTube compliation video of the big leagues. Funny enough, it must be a Japanese thing, I saw a throw similar to what Ichiro did in the States by the left field player by the Softbank Hawks, but except it was to Homebase instead of 3rd base. (see video).

Then we took off to Fukuoka tower, took a couple pictures and decided to NOT pay the $8 fee to go to the top. I’ve been a top of several different high buildings and although it is the highest building in Kyushu, I couldn’t say I wanted to pay $16 to see it at the moment. Although, I’ll have to say I’ll just leave it be so as to have something to do at a later time and perhaps at night instead of day time. The top has been called lovers sanctuary, it’s where a lot of couples go to clip a bike lock with their signatures on it on a bar at the top to “solidify” their bond together. So it’s really popular for that, and of course it’s quite a big tourist trap for sure.

Next we went across the street where a Marina is located, it had a few restaurants and a few interesting little shops, but we were mostly interested in getting our shoes off and walking in the seashell littered sands that felt awesome on our feet from standing and walking all day. I’d say it’s a great 1-2-3 punch for a day out in Hakata, Fukuoka. I would certainly recommended. After we were finished for the day we went back to Hakata JR Station and found out there is a ramen shop area on the 2nd floor… (Hakata JR Station is HUGE!!).

Nihon Scope

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Nanzoin Temple Fukuoka – Largest Bronze Statue of Reclining Buddha

Nanzoin Temple and Buddha Statue

Today my wife and I went to Nanzoin temple here in Fukuoka, we rode the train to Yoshizuka and then took a train that went past Yusa to a train stop that I couldn’t properly pronounce very well, all I knew was that it had the kanji for previous at the end of it (Mae), but the area is called Sasaguri. I found out that this large span of small shrines all intertwined each other to make a very large temple compound. The pictures we took were of a lot of tiny very detailed statues, some REALLY big statues and of course the grand prize of them all, the reclining Buddha statue. (update) A few people debate on if it really is the biggest bronze statue in the world, but it comes down to no one else being able to find a bigger one to trump the current master piece (If anyone has any proof otherwise please share it). This statue was built back in 1995 and supposedly the temple has a good connect with Myanmar and some kind of organization there help fund this statue. There are 3 different states of a Buddha statue, standing, sitting and reclining. The sitting is the most popular to show the Buddha meditating, but the reclining is the state of “death” in a way, it’s preparation for entering nirvana or nehan in Japanese.

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While we were at the compound we entered into a cave that had a really low ceiling walking into it, no one would come in because there was chanting coming from inside, but we braved it any how and found an older lady chanting and going about her ritual/meditation, she waved us in and attempted to tell us what to do to properly pray/meditate to the shrine inside. So we did, and it was interesting to see her continue on, then get up and leave. We saw here a couple other places around the shrine doing the same thing to practically ever shrine that the temple had (which was a lot). We then also did some hiking up into the mountain which passed the temple grounds and came to a road, there were loan shrines littered throughout the area and on the side of the road, we also stumbled across a well hidden Shinto shrine which was an interesting find. Through these walk we ran into (saw) two different tanuki, which was rather fun to see being I’ve heard they’re very skittish creatures and it’s a sign of good fortune to see them.

-Nihon Scope

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