The Olympics are on us again. We love all the bright colours, the fantastic skill of the competitors and the feeling that for a few hours the world has parked its quarrels and we can all settle down in front of the TV like it’s one big happy village. But as you settle into your armchair to watch swimmers swim, boxers box and athletes athlete (surely some mistake?-ed), what drinks will lift your spirits and at the same time get you truly into that vital Japanese spirit? Today we’ll look at a range, starting with:
Beer According to Wikipedia it only arrived in the home islands in the seventeenth century, brought by Dutch traders. But the Japanese being the Japanese soon learned to improve on their teachers and now the market is dominated by four large brands-Suntory, Kirin, Asahi and Sapporo. All are light and refreshing. But thirty years ago we used to love the shape and design of the old Sapporo tin. It’s a bit less in-and outy than we remember from the far off days of 1991, but much else has changed too Remember Japan in the Passing Lane? Warning- drink too many of these and you’ll look more like a Sumo wrestler than a lady gymnastic competitor.
Sake No study of Japanese History, Art and Political Economy would be complete without a long discussion of Sake, the famous drink made from rice. As you might expect from a land where ritual and ceremony are prized, there are numerous flavours and types. You can drink it chilled, lukewarm or heated, depending on the weather. Sake is deeply embedded in Japanese culture at all levels. One famous example was the famous Kamikaze pilots of the Second World War, who drank a last toast in it to The Emperor before departing on their doomed missions.
Tea In Britain, from where this blog originates, tea is something you throw into boiling water in a mug , mix in milk and sugar and slurp down on any occasion from dawn to dusk. It’s something you give to those burly men in overalls who come round to do things to your roof or dig enormous holes in your drive. It’s all rather informal; a washed cup is rather an eye-raiser in such circumstances. Nothing could be further from the elaborate rituals and refined sensibilities of the Japanese tea ceremony. This is so complicated that we cannot explain it, but invite readers to our Wikipedia link below. Don’t try to repeat it without plenty of practice.
Japanese tea ceremony – Wikipedia
Whisky and more galore All that hard work makes Japanese people very thirsty, and we have a link which shows the other runners and riders competing to quench the eastern thirst. These include plum wine and of course whisky. Time was, after the Second World War, when both Japanese and Americans developed a fascination for all things Scottish, like whisky and golf. Once again, Japanese brands are competing successfully with the old masters, and are no doubt just as good as giving you a hangover the size of the Loch Ness Monster
And so we say “Kanpai!” to competitors, sports fans and everyone else in Japan and round the whole world. Enjoy the games, enjoy a good Friday night, and we’ll be back tomorrow with a round up you will not lightly forget.
Alcoholic beverages in Japan (japan-guide.com)
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