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Sake: Anytime, Anywhere

September 11, 2010

One of the few perks with living in Japan is that most people are alcoholics. I mean, compared to American standards, anyone that drinks before 9PM could be considered a drunk. Don’t tell your friends that you went out three nights in a row and you were drunk each night. You are sure to get strange looks and sideway glances. Your friends will whisper and say, “She must have a problem. Is she lonely? What’s going on with her job, boyfriend, husband, dog?” etc.  On the other hand, you have Japan or maybe the rest of the world. The more people I meet from other countries I realize prohibition did a number on Americans.  On some mornings I can be sure to see a group of men having a 24 oz can of beer before 7:00AM.  All of the guys are chatting away and talking. The could be getting off from work or starting, who knows, but 7:00AM is a good time to drink. I’ve been on the train and I’ve seen people drinking a tall one early in the morning.  So, when a friend and I decided to meet in Hamamatsucho to get a sip or two of sake, I didn’t think it was strange that we arrived a little after 12 in the afternoon to get started!

When we got to the Meishu Center we were proceeded by 4 elderly men who had two bottles of shochu on their table and a bottle of umeshu.  Just so you can keep up, shochu is a Japanese liquor that is can be made with potato or wheat. It has a light taste. You can mix it, but I prefer to drink it on the rocks.  Umeshu is Japanese plum wine. It’s made with plums, sugar, and shochu. So these older gentlemen were seated on their stools, eyes tinged with red and a bit watery for a little after 12.  They were talking loudly and enjoying their afternoon siesta.  Then my friend and I walked in, plunked our bags down and asked for the special.  We recieved 3 glasses of  sake for 500 yen.  Now in American dollars with the dollar in the toilet, that may come up to 6 bucks or something.  Anyway, I ordered the good stuff so he only filled my glass halfway.  My friend ordered the umeshu. I have personally moved beyond the super sweet drink. I would rather drink shochu or sake. 

The ambiance was nice. Meishu Center has their own bottles of sake and shochu designed by a local artist.  The day we were there he just happened to be drinking at the table with the other guys.  He offered us a free glass of umeshu jelly. Uhm, I drank it, but I’m not a fan of the jelly drinks.  The jelly umeshu reminded me of a watery jello shot!  Well after a few minutes we finished that round and ordered more.  All in all I think we had about 16 glasses of booze before 5 PM.  That’s when the place turned into a standing bar and we had to give up our seats!  If you’d like to check it out click here!

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