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Snooth User: dmcker

Drinking behavior in Tokyo and the world

Posted by dmcker, Jul 12.

Ran across a smattering of statistics about the drinking life in various cities/countries. Thought they might warrant discussion. Most of the numbers come from Time Out magazine. Not sure of their methodology.

  1. No. of hangover days per year admitted to (in Time Out's worldwide City Index Survey): Tokyo 15.4, London 23.3, Sydney 24.5.
  2. Percentage of respondents thinking it's OK to drink at lunch during a work day: Tokyo 63%, Sydney 68%, Mexico City 68%, Barcelona 69%.
  3. No of times per year visiting a 'bar' or 'pub': Tokyo 23, Paris 44, Chicago 39. (This Tokyo number seems low to me unless they were also polling at convalescent homes...).
  4. Percentage of respondents in Tokyo who think there're always great bars to go to in the city: 26% (this low number also makes me curious about their methodology).
  5. Average number of hours for 'all you can drink' offers at restaurants, izakayas, hotels and pubs in Tokyo: two (I've seen this in action so many times here, and trust me, a lot of damage can be wreaked within 120 minutes, not to mention the fallout after...).
  6. Percent of Tokyo drinkers going out who've pulled all nighters: 38%, which is apparently the highest in the world ("climbing the ladder" by going from one drinking place to the next is a time honored tradition here; I live on the edge of a bar and restaurant district and after almost every night I hear plenty of rowdy voices outside once the sun's come up).
  7. No. of bars, pubs and clubs in Tokyo, according to government data from 2014: 30,887.
  8. No of people employed in Tokyo in the boozing business: 191,000 (more than the entire population of Salt Lake City, much less those serving drinks there).
  9. Cost of a typical night out in Tokyo: ¥7,500 (just north of $65) (again I wonder about their methodology--who's going where?).


Any reactions from personal experience where you live and go out?


Reply by rckr1951, Jul 12.

My times in Japan, it was mostly a beer drinking world.  Red Sun and the like and of course sake.  Had a lot of fun in those places and the coffee shops also.  Back then it was a different world - less expensive and more tolerance for Americans at any level.

Of course friendships were fleeting due the business I was - Navy and then shipbuilding after that, but my experiences were good and I do enjoy the memories except for one - broke my ankle drinking uzo one night. Hit me like a ton of bricks - by the 3rd drink I stopped.

Reply by dmcker, Jul 12.

What's Red Sun (unless you mean that horrid Akadama wine from years ago)? When and where were you, Paul?

Reply by rckr1951, Jul 12.

From mid - 70's through mid to late  80's.  And YES that's the the one - and horrid is being polite. Christ I can't remember them all.  Yokosuka and the cities around there of course several times, Tokyo - several times, which I found quite dizzying at times, side street eating places - clothiers - coffee houses - restaurants - the bay. For the most part  I was there on military business and didn't have the free time the place deserved IMO.

Stuck to the places where those that lived there told me about or took me to.  Loved the seafood.

Reply by dmcker, Jul 13.

Assume you made it to Roppongi (for naughty night times that were different from Yokosuka's) and maybe Shinjuku and Shibuya? Lots of good, cheap side-street eating places back then outside, even under the train tracks. Yakitori and beer, and such. More coffee houses then than now, thanks to the likes of Starbuck's and its knockoffs, which I don't count as such, gutting the market and effectively killing off those with character. Many of the hardcore music cafes have unfortunately evaporated. Many clothiers still but not as funky and interesting and 'look what I found' since BRANDS, led by the French masters in them, have taken over in too many glass-and-steel shops in tall buildings. Still can find interesting, relatively inexpensive stuff, but there's just a lot more generic high-priced to wade through.

I first arrived in the early-mid '70s as an exchange student before I went walkabout traveling/trrekking/climbing around Asia and Europe then ultimately coming back to work for awhile. I know the time and places you mention well. When I first arrived and popped into local markets (before the era of airconditioned Supers) I saw that light-color(white?)-labeled-with-the-big-red-ball ('Akadama', probably meant to represent the rising sun) with a screw top sitting out standing on dusty shelves looking undisturbed for ages. Was well distributed because it was a Suntory product, and was labeled 'port wine' back then which later changed to 'sweet wine'. I was never tempted to buy any but was poured a glass (only) once at a student party. As bad as expected, which was very bad. I'd been at school in Berkeley with periodic roadtrips up to the Napa/Sonoma/Mendocino of the times and was drinking a lot more wine than beer back home so was aghast at that thing that was attempting to call itself wine, even if 'port' was attached to cover multitudinous sins. Later that first year took a road trip to a mountainous plateau to the west called Yamanashi (town called Katsunuma) that was the center of winemaking in Japan then and to this day. Really shocked at how they were making the stuff, but it explained a lot. Akadama, however, was probably just put together in some factory most anywhere that Suntory had one. Never did bother to chase down the details and hadn't even though of it for decades until you mentioned it. Perhaps needless to say I learned to drink a lot of beer and some Sake during that period.


Advert for Akadama, back a little before my day:


Current 'modernized' label:

Reply by dmcker, Jul 13.

Am curious, though, about reactions to the statistics for Tokyo and the other cities. What's your sense of how such things are where you live or visit?

Reply by Stephen Harvey, Jul 13.

I will try and find some stats for Australia

My anecdotal info tells me that since the late 70's eating out has grown quite significantly and changes in our licencing laws such as allowing bars to open after 6pm [late 60's], after 10pm late 70's early 80's, Sunday trading late 70's impacted drinking habits

Table wine consumption grew from 70's on a per capita basis

Reply by JonDerry, Jul 13.

Drinks at lunch seems a big difference between those countries and the US, which I'd feel is well under 50%

Reply by rckr1951, Jul 13.

Looking at those pictures - memories flooded back.  Especially of a little bar, mostly for foreign merchant marine sailors and the like.  A few pros worked the place and they worked the guys to keep buying drinks and a few to take home and get ripped off.  It was a smokey place and they American music mostly - you paid to listen to albums (remember them) by the side.  Great sound systems.  Love Japanese and German music equipment.

Back then, as memory served, most drinking and debauchery was done by the adult males and "loose" women (frowned upon by most).  Drinking and food wasn't a thought back then and most people thought their hangout was the greatest bar, night after night with only a few exceptions.  

Only the trawlers went bar to bar, except for sailors - whose job it was to try them all. LOL.

As for Wisconsin - we took quite a set back in the '08-'10 years.  1/3rd to 1/2 of the rural bars closed up. Places here are more for singular meals - Friday fish fry, burgers on Sat. night, Mon night football buffet - than full on service.  There are a few The Gastro Pub in town is an example of in roads that are being made in rural Mid West America.

I do know that the idea of business lunch in the state is much more amenable towards drinking a beer, glass of wine or mixed drink, but frowned upon with the people actually doing the work with machinery, which is understandable.

Just about every bar, sports bar, bar & grill in the state Happy Hour(s) on a daily, twice weekly or once weekly basis...and the results are people taking time off work...Wisconsin drinks more than any State in the US.  We know it and it seems that either we're drinking more or the rest of the nation is drinking less and we stick out like a sore thumb, a drunk one, but still.......


Reply by dmcker, Jul 22.

No statistics, anecdotes, emotional reactions, gasps of wonder, cross-cultural observations, tales of gargling and brushing teeth with wine where the water is bad, or whatever else to add?

Reply by rckr1951, Jul 24.

As you pointed out earlier 8 of the top 20 drunkest towns in the USA are in this state.  The 2015 report shows that out the 833K DUI arrrests, Wis. only had 3.5% or 24K arrests.  Still that is a reality check considering our population - 5.8 million.

Reply by dmcker, Jul 24.

So dairy and drinking and heart disease and the fastest growing lawns on earth during the summer, and some nice lakes and Madison and Frank Lloyd Wright and the Packers? Oh yes, and The Great Northwoods Wine Challenge.  ;-)    What else?

Here's a link to the article about  what's going on up in Wisconsin where it appears there's a deathlock on the leaderboard for drunkest towns in the States. Perhaps more appropriate here than that other thread, anyway. 

I can remember plenty of drinking and driving when I was growing up in SoCal. A friend and I were drinking beer in HS and parked along one of the major roads (Telephone Road) through the Ventura residential areas. Pretty careless and a Sheriff pulled up behind. He gave us a lecture about how when he was young he'd go park in the lemon orchards to drink before getting back on the road, and told us to go do that. 

Not the case these days. What does CA have, 40mil pop now? Plus a lot more policing and sentencing and a massive prison population, too.

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