How to tell if you’re an Alcoholic in Japan

Kirin Beer Japan braille on beer can

Alcoholism is a serious problem in Japan without, well, actually being classified as a problem. A majority of these drinkers are not, in fact, deadbeat dads or college students (nice guess, though) – rather they are salarymen – typical Japanese businessmen.

Without going into too much detail, most of the alcohol consumed in Japan is done so on a social basis. Coworkers drink with clients to make a sale, they drink with their boss to move ahead, and they drink with each other to create a better bond. Refusing to drink can be taken as an insult.

Alcoholism is a serious, albeit misunderstood, problem in Japan.

Regardless of whether I am visiting close friends, loose acquaintances, or future family members, there is a pressure to drink. After my first couple glasses, my fiance has to dutifully keep my cup topped with tea (since in Japan, you are not supposed to pour your own drink. Someone else is supposed to pour for you), lest one of his family members continue dumping beer into my small, class cup – long after I’ve said “I’m good. I’M GOOD. STOP.”

So how do you know if you’re an alcoholic?

There’s a lot of way to tell – but for the sake of time, I’m just going to address this one:

Kirin Beer Promotional Campaign Alcoholism

It is a new promotional campaign by Kirin Beer: Collect either 48, 96, or 120 stickers off of a purchased can of beer in a three month period – and you receive a free gift! That averages out to more than one can of beer a day.

Kirin Beer Promotional Campaign Alcoholism

I’m not going to mention whose house I found this at; I would, however, like to mention that the person who has been collecting these stickers has been averaging two cans of beer a day for almost a month.

Kirin Beer Promotional Campaign Alcoholism

And no one aside from me thinks it is strange.

I will probably write a serious post about this later, I just wanted to showcase my “how to tell if you are an alcoholic in Japan” test.

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5 responses to “How to tell if you’re an Alcoholic in Japan

  1. I think it’s really a big Problem, especially because Japanese are drunk very quick and behave like a bunch of perv idiots (at least the japanese salery man who come to eat&drink to the Restaurant where I work [a japanese 1star one in Germany]) >__<
    It's a big Problem in Society that everyone feel the pressure to drink. In Germany you don't do that. If you are drinking with collegues you will behold yourself and only will get drunk when you are with friends.

    But like Theresa said, Alcohol is a big Problem in Germany too, especially among Young People. They are unstable and drinking a lot 'cause of peer pressure (in particular Boys who want to be cool infront of their friends and Girls).

    In case of the Kirin-Campaign:
    I think it's not that bad. You don't have to drink all the 120cans of beer all by yourself. If you are having some Partys with friends and you will buy only Kirin it's not unpossible. Drinking that much alone…. that's really, really unhealthy. Maybe drinking one can from time to time after work especially if it's hot outside and you are all sweaty, is refreshing, but that should be enough.

    Drinking that much of alcohol like a Japanese (man), in Germany, your friends and Family would send you to the doctor.

    • There’s a lot of people here I would like to send to the doctor for over-drinking/alcoholism. But you made a good point, for this campaign you don’t have to drink all 120 cans by yourself (although i do know two college students who are trying to).

      I really do have a problem with most social drinking. I think in America (and Germany), most of the social pressure for drinking is peer pressure in college / high school / early adulthood. I’ve known a couple friends who have been hospitalized for binge drinking. it’s pretty sad.

      Japan on the other hand uses the workplace as a sort of peer pressure. While more employees are old enough to know their limits, there’s also no way to say “no”. When you say “no” as a teen, everyone thinks youre weird… but that seems to be it. Maybe it will be harder to get a date. In Japan, if you say “no” in the workplace, it seems like you lose a bit of respect. People always ask “why??” and won’t take “no” for an answer.

      I feel sorry for recovering alcoholics in Japan…

  2. In Germany, drinking is very common and we drink a lot. In fact, I recently read a report (if I recall the details right) that almost every third German between 15-29 drinks too much alcohol. It’s really common, but at the same time, I and several of my friends don’t drink. It has never been a problem (at least if you have the right friends), but I noticed that there’s a LOT more pressure in Japan to drink. Many people I have met here simply could not understand why I had made a choice against alcohol. I find it very sad that there’s so much social pressure here to drink.

    • I think I’ve noticed that. The first two times I “lived” in Japan, I was underage – so had a strict policy against drinking. Now I don’t really care, but there is a huge pressure to drink.
      Even if I drink a bit and then decide I’m “done” after one glass, people don’t understand why I want to switch to tea. I don’t understand why you are expected to drink at every social event – even something like a family gathering with small children, work party, or meeting up with old friends.
      It’s a little… bizarre…

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