The best experiences I have had in Japan have always been in the obscure unassuming places frequented only by locals. Thankfully, I have a lot of Japanese friends who like to throw random parties, and often invite us to tag along. Last weekend we celebrated the Lunar New Year in Yokohama (which coincidentally is home to the largest Chinatown in Asia) for a sake tasting. Going to the underground of Sakuragicho Station we found ourselves in a neat-looking sushi-ya called Kagura. A long table was allocated for those who booked the sake tasting. We joined approximately 20 strangers and made ourselves comfortable in our designated seats. The chef gave us formal greeting and laid out the bottles from two Fukushima breweries – Hiroki and Sharaku – which we would be tasting. It was all-you-can-drink deal.
While my palate is nowhere near as sophisticated as that of a sommelier able to taste the subtle differences between myriads of types of wine, I quite enjoyed the Sharabu brand, because it had sweeter taste and thicker velvety texture. We also gorged on some delicious snacks that kept coming to the table.
It was interesting to see Japanese, typically so restricted and well-behaved, completly let loose and unleash their boisterous character as soon as they had enough alcohol in their system. After one too many drinks the room was filled with terrific verve, and the uncomfortable silence caused by sitting next to a stranger was replaced with enthusiastic chatter. The boundaries, shyness and cordiality were well forgotten and we had our neighbors for the night approach us, strike conversation, throw random compliments, flirt and even share their love stories. I know, quite hilarious. Who knew booze would be such an interesting way to get an insight into the local
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What an insightful, interesting night this must have been Nano – come to think of it, I don’t think I saw any locals drunk when we were out there so I’d be so curious to see how they must be with a few drinks in their system by teh end f the night!
Yeah, seems like a whole new facet of culture opens up when you drink with locals, I guess it applies to any country and culture :)
Omg Nano this looks AMAZING! I’ll have to take my fiance there in May! You should come with us!!!! xo
I’d love to!! Let me know when you are in town :)
It must be so fun to get the chance to do these random things that give you an insight into the culture :)
Absolutely Angie, it’s like getting an insight from a totally different angle.
Wow, all-you-can-drink sake party! I thought it was funny that ‘snacks’ referred to sashimi and sushi! Such extravagant snacks.. lol. I used to munch on edamame while drinking sake. 😂
Haha I know, the food just kept coming, it it only cost 6500 yen per person!
Sake tasting is my favorite activity :)
Haha I might join your club! :)
Sounds cool! Yep, the Japanese know how to drink, don’t they!
Haha I just learned that! :)
I’d love to try sake tasting, it just looks a little expensive. It seems like a great way to make new friends though, so I may have to try it if I get the chance!
It definitely was a great way to meet new people. They say Japanese are shy, which is true. But with a little bit of alcohol they actually are more eager to make friends than one would think!