Drink culture unique to Japan called “All You Can Drink”
In Japan you will find drink culture you rarely see in other countries. It is called “all you can drink”, and this is a system which has gained public favor among Japanese alcoholic drink lovers. For fixed charge during the fixed time, you can drink certain alcoholic drink as much as you want. Charge is fixed no matter how many bottles you drink, so, you can enjoy alcoholic drinks reasonably.
Usually Japanese style bars have this kind of service. With a reservation or an order for the course meal, you can usually add this service as an option. Japanese people eat out with those you deal with through business, such as colleagues and clients.
Dinner party for the division to appreciate hard work of the staff, social gathering with clients, year-end party, welcome party for new staff, etc. there are dinner party after events or at certain points of projects, and there, people take advantage of this system. It is also conveniently used for dinner gathering with certain numbers of friends or joint party which can be a stage of matchmaking for couples.
Nowadays, a number of Japanese style bars employing this system even with a la carte orders is increasing. Its duration and fee are fixed, like 1500 yen per person for two hours. Usually last order is 30 minutes before your time is up. Also, it mostly comes with some conditions, for example, at least one dish each person must order.
All depends on the place, drink list applied to this system varies. However, mostly beer, high ball, cocktails, wine, and soft drinks are included, and you have a variety of choices. Depending on the price, drink menu lists vary.
For example, the one called “premium type of all you can drink” offers higher grade of shocyu and sake brands, and sometimes you can have a variety of sake of local specialty. It is very rational as drink charges are clearly fixed. For those alcohol lovers, it is a pleasant system.
Usually the basic rule is to change the glass. Unless you finish the drink you are having, you cannot order the next one. Exchange the one you emptied with the drink of your new drink, this is the way you make an order on after another.
Japanese style bar is a treasure box of Japan’s food culture. From some snacks so-called speed menu, such as edamame and pickles, to hot Japanese delight like boiled up dishes, grilled chicken, oden as well as grilled fish, and cold dishes of sashimi, salad, and vinegar salad, along with carbohydrate rice and noodles, those daily dishes Japanese usually eat are all in their menu list.
Japanese style bar is a part of Japan’s food culture strongly recommended to foreign tourists as it is casual and reasonable. Some places offer all the dishes for the same fixed price, for example, for 280 yen. It is one of the real pleasure of traveling Japan to enjoy eating out reasonably.
It is a good opportunity to touch the everyday culture of ordinary Japanese people. So, please stop by at one of those Japanese style bars. If you want to try you can drink as much as you want, you check and confirm the word “nomihodai (all you can drink)” on the signboard in front of the shop, and inquire to the staff.
Often “drunk and incapable Japanese” is focused when referring to Japanese culture and habits. Generally speaking, Japanese cannot hold drink very well. However, as “All you can drink” system exists, they are fond of drinking, and some people drink to excess. It could be the cause to have an accident or to get into trouble, and after all you would cause problems to others. So, please watch your condition well while enjoying Japan’s drink culture.
*The information herein is as of January 2020.