Alcohol, Gourmet Guide

In Japan people like to enjoy beer, wine, whiskey, and other drinks from all around the world, but of course they also like to have Japanese sake and shochu. Most places sell the same types of alcoholic beverages, depending on what kind of establishment they are.

Italian and French restaurants have beer and wine, okonomiyaki, ramen and yakiniku restaurants only have beer, Japanese restaurants and sushi bars serve sake and beer, and izakayas and dining bars have beer, wine, whiskey, sake and shochu. Also, most Korean, Chinese or other foreign restaurants serve native beer and sake. The most popular alcoholic beverage in Japan is beer, of which the majority is made by Japanese companies. Four major beer companies are Asahi, Kirin, Suntory, and Sapporo. Another one, although limited to Okinawa, is Orion. Many Japanese taverns and such buy their beer exclusively from one company, so it is rare to find a place that sells all brands. Low-malt or malt-free beers like "happoshu" or "dai-san no biru" are sold, too, and because they are so cheap, people like drinking them at home as a "beer-like drink." In addition, every region has their own local beer brand, which is called "Jibiru." Sake or "nihonshu" is made from fermented rice and the water of the region. Regions where the water is said to be delicious are home to many sake brewers. Sake is what goes best with Japanese food, so even people who normally are fans of beer will drink sake when eating Japanese food. Also, sake is said to be good for your metabolism because it contains more amino acids and peptides than other alcoholic beverages, and is expected to improve hyperlipidemia and hypertension, which is one of the reasons why health-conscious people prefer to drink sake. Sake is categorized according to its manufacturing method and whether alcohol was added. Each group of sake has its own name. Sake with alcohol added is classified as "daiginjo," "ginjo," or "honjozo," depending on how much the rice that was used was polished. Sake made without added alcohol is classified as "junmai daiginjo," "junmai ginjo," or "junmai," also depending on how much the riced used was polished. Which sake goes best with which dish depends on your taste, but if you cannot decide, just ask one of the supermarket employees. Shochu, on the other hand, is a type of distilled liquor, and although it is a Japanese liquor, it is not to be considered "nihonshu." Shochu can be made from rice, wheat, or potatoes. It is believed that shochu brewing in Japan began in the 16th century in Kagoshima. Even today, Kagoshima is the prefecture where most shochu is consumed, which is why it is also known as the shochu kingdom. Awamori is a very popular shochu from Okinawa and is made from sugar cane. The legal drinking age in Japan is 20 years old. Adults who let minors drink alcohol are punished.

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