Alcohol is a huge part of the Japanese culture with many delightful places to get your drinks on. Besides drinking at bars and izakaya taverns, maybe coming back to your room with bottles of insanely great alcohol that can be purchased at convenience stores for affordable prices might take away your hassle to return to your room walking tipsy. The legal drinking age in Japan is 20, and if you are over that age, then this article can introduce you to some of the recommended alcohol at convenience stores and also, how to purchase them.
Which convenience store sell alcohol products?
Most convenience stores in Japan sell alcohol products, but there are occasional exceptions. If there is a signboard/poster outside the store with the word "酒"or "Liquor", it means that the store sell alcoholic beverages.
Which shelves sell alcohols?
① Refrigerator：If you want to drink chilled alcohol, it is stored in the fridge. Convenience store refrigerated cabinets are usually divided into two major areas, one area is full of non-alcoholic beverages, and the other for alcoholic beverages, distinctly labeled with the Sake Corner (お酒コーナー) sign above.
②Room Temperature：If you want to buy whiskey, shochu, Japanese sake, red wine and other alcoholic products, then look for the cabinets with the word "お酒" meaning alcohol. The alcoholic beverages in this area are not chilled usually comes in bottles with large capacity. Best advises to take home these and drink it as it is hard to consume all at one shot.
In addition to alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beer is also very popular. It tastes the same as beer, but does not contain any alcohol. It is recommended for people who can't drink with many reasons.
Usually non-alcoholic beer is sold together with other alcoholic beverages, and the appearance is so similar that it is hard to distinguish the differences. The only way to find out is to search for the words "お酒" or "ノンアルコールALC.0.00%". "お酒"means it contains alcohol, and "ノンアルコールALC.0.00%" means no acolohol. If you haven't tried one yet, this will be a great opportunity to try one.
Alcohol or Non-Alcohol?
As mentioned in the previous section, distingushing the difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages may be extremely confusing at first especially for those who are not used to reading Japanese. In this case, you will need to confirm whether they have alcohol (お酒) or non-alcoholic (ノンアルコール) written on the can or bottle. You may also want to check the alcoholic content, as non-alcohol drinks often include ALC 0.00% Here is a sample that will help you distingusih the differences.
① There is the word "お酒" labled on the can
② The "ALC" and "alcohol content 9%" labled on the can.
① There is the word "ノンアルコール" on the can.
② There is no "お酒" labled on the can.
③ It is labled with "ALC.0.00" on the can.
Beer and Happoshu?
There are wealth of different types of beer sold at convenience stores. But, keep an eye on those as some are not what they seem. These two cans look like both are a can of beer. However, the one on the right is happoshu and the other is a beer.
Happoshu is a beer-like beverage that has a malt content of less than 2/3(around 67%), whereas beer has a malt content of over 2/3. Happoshu is cheaper than beer due to Japan's tax on alcohol; the higher the malt content, the higher the tax is.
A can of beer is usually sold from around 170yen (tax exlusive) and a can of happoshu from 150yen (tax exlusive)
Look carefully at the lables and if it is written as "生ビール", then its a beer. Alternatively, ask the store staff these questions:
Is this happoshu? = Kore wa happoshu desu ka
Is this beer? = Kore wa biru desu ka
If the answer is “hai” (yes) to either of these questions you know what you have got.
Age Confirmation at the Register
Legal drinking age in Japan is 20. At the cash register you will be required to verify that you are old enough to purchase alcohol. The screen will pose the question, “Are you over 20?” upon your purchase and may require you to show some form of ID, but most likely your passport. Once the verification is done, simply touch "Yes" button on the touch panel to complete your purchase.
Recommended Alcoholic Beverages
① ASAHI SUPER DRY (218yen tax inclusive)
② SUNTORY The PREMIUM MALT'S (237yen tax inclusive)
③ YEBISU (238yen tax exclusive)
【Chuhai (shochu highball】
①Suntory Lemon Sour 141yen tax exclusive (left) & Kodawari Lemon Sour Lemondo 150yen tax exclusive (right)
② SUNTORY Horoyoi (There are variety of unique flavors offered year-round, as well as highly anticipated limited-edition seasonal flavors)
※sold from 141yen tax exclusive
③ KIRIN Hyoketsu (There are variety of unique flavors offered year-round, as well as highly anticipated limited-edition seasonal flavors)
※sold from 152 yen tax inclusive
① SUNTORY Highballl alcohol content 7％ （left）、9％（right）
Each are 189yen tax exclusive
② SUNTORY TORYS (160yen tax exclusive)
① MIO Sparkling Sake (285yen tax exclusive)
② Kikumasa (825yen tax inclusive)
③ Daiginjyo 305yen, tax inclusive (left) and Kikumasa Taru Sake 209yen tax exclusive (right)
① Kunizakari Orange Sake (550yen, tax inclusive)
② ASAHI NIKKA CIDRE SWEET (671yen, tax exclusive)
※limited-edition seasonal flavor
① Shiso Shochu Tan Taka Tan (864yen, tax exclusive)
② Kuro Kirishima Sweet Potato Shochu (1,096yen tax inclusive)
③ Iichiko 231yen tax inclusive（left）、Kuro Kirishima 238yen tax exclusive（right）