In cozy and friendly
Japanese-style bars, customers often pour drinks for each other from
bottles of beer as a gesture of companionship. If you are a fellow
beer drinker, reciprocate with your own bottle. A whiskey drinker may
invite you to drink from his bottle and fix a drink for you. In this
case, you need not reciprocate unless you have your own bottle. (Many
of these bars have a bottle-keep system for regular patrons who buy a
bottle from time to time as it is less expensive than paying for
single drinks over the long run.)
If with a group, do not begin to drink until everyone is served.
Glasses are raised in the traditional salute as everyone shouts Kampai!
If you drink sake, and someone offers a drink from his carafe, drink
what remains in your cup before holding it out. In this case, too,
reciprocate. But don't let it get out of hand. Pouring sake for each
other at high speed can get you drunk much faster than you might
Excessive drinking is frowned on. But it happens. Rely on the
bartender if someone close to you gets too boisterous.
Japanese students have three years of English-language studies in
middle (junior-high) school. Many go on to become good or even fluent
English conversationalists. You are likely to come across them in bars
that cater to business people who work at general trading houses or
other companies with international business dealings. Even small talk
in broken English, with the aid of body language, can make the evening
all the more enjoyable. Don't hesitate to jump in.
Japanese sake (rice wine) goes extremely well with a variety of
Japanese dishes. Brewed with rice and water, sake has been a Japanese
alcoholic beverage since ancient times. Because it can be drunk warmed
up in winter it warms the body. When drunk chilled, good sake has a
taste similar to fine-quality wine. There are local sake breweries in
every region across the country, which make their respective
characteristic tastes based on the quality of rice and water as well
as differences in brewing processes.