Japan’s favorite alcohol: Beer outranks Japanese rice wine and shochu

By Michelle

When asked to pick your poison, what do you choose? In a recent survey, people in Japan were asked to select their favorite alcoholic beverage. The results were quite surprising.

The following survey was conducted by Japanese website Shunkan News, and was taken by a total of 20,048 people. Respondents who answered, “I don’t drink alcohol” or those who were underage have been omitted from the results.

Japan’s favorite drinks:

Beer: 34.9%

Wine: 12.6%

Nihonshu (Japanese Rice Wine): 10.5%

Shochu: 17.7%

Plum Liquor: 13.6%

Makgeolli (Korean Rice Wine): 0.9%

Whiskey/High Ball: 4.3%

Other Alcohol: 5.5%

Let’s take a look at the rankings and comments from respondents:

■ #1 Beer

“Drinking a cold one at the end of a hard day at work is the best!”

“I started loving beer once Asahi Super Dry came out.”

■ #2 Shochu

“Whenever I think of winter, I think of shochu and hot water.”

“Shochu is really cheap, so I can buy a lot and enjoy trying all of the different types.”

“Shochu on the rocks!”

The above comments are from those who love drinking, regardless of the type, but even those who don’t usually indulge in alcohol have come to love shochu. One respondent comments, “Its tastes like juice when mixed, so even though I usually can’t drink alcohol, I can drink shochu.” Shochu is easily combined with a number of juices or cocktail mixes and the alcohol flavor is easily masked, making for a crowd-pleasing beverage. Shochu also comes in a number of premixed canned drinks, called chu-hai, and is referred to as a “sour” when lemon flavor and carbonated water are added.

■ #3 Fruit Liquor

Most people responded that they enjoy umeshu (plum wine) when it comes to fruit liquor, but a few people said they prefer apricot wine.

■ #4 Wine

“It goes really well with food. I’m satisfied after drinking just one glass.”

■ #5 Nihonshu (Japanese rice wine)

“Hot or cold, you can drink nihonshu any time of the year.”

The vote for #4 (wine) and #5 (Japanese rice wine) was split. Many people said that they prefer either drink depending on the food they are eating.

■ #6 Other Alcohol

Brandy, rum, tequila, vodka, gin, and many other types of alcohol made the list.

■ #7 Whiskey/High Ball

“I usually drink the middle-grade whiskey made in Japan, but I’ll allow myself to indulge in the expensive stuff twice a year.”

“Last year around summer time, my wife and I started drinking whiskey all the time. We’ll drink a glass together pretty much every night.”

■ #8 Makgeolli (Korean Rice Wine)

Commonly known as “makkori” in Japanese, Makgeolli is a type of Korean rice wine made from a mixture of fermented wheat and rice. It has a milky white color and a tangy taste.

“Since it’s fermented, makkori is good for you! I looove it!” gushes one respondent.

If we separate the survey between men and women, the results are a little different…

Favorite alcohol of men:

1 Beer: 43.1%

2 Shochu: 17.3%

3 Japanese rice wine: 14.2%

Favorite alcohol of women:

1 Beer: 26.8%

2 Fruit Liquor: 21.5%

3 Wine: 15.9%

According to these results, the alcoholic beverages of choice for men are beer, shochu, and Japanese rice wine. But for women, the keyword is “easy to drink,” as shown by their top three choices: beer, fruit liquor, and wine.

Source: Shukan News

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Even Non-Alcoholic Drinks Should be Limited to 20 Years Old -- Get ready to rock ‘n’ roll with the new line of alcoholic drinks from Suntory -- Calling All Boozehounds! All You Can Drink for 30 Minutes, Just 299 Yen!

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I miss Scrumpy Cider from Devon. That used to be my poison. Now though I drink mostly beer and wine.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As long as it's REAL beer.

4 ( +9 / -4 )

I'm a great lover of Japanese food but Japan's beers, wines and spirits leave me cold. Generic, gassy, flavorless beer ( there are some decent microbrews but most restaurants or izakaya don't stock them ). Glenfiddich with ice ( no soda ) on a winter's night is as good as it gets.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Glenfiddich with ice

don't water it down.

Japanese beers are very easy to drink but are also generically unremarkable.

Best drink: Beer finished in the bottle.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Dunno what Mocheake meant,

But if it's the "fake" cheap beers of the last couple years (happoushu), I will speak in their favor- I like the light empty taste, especially in the summertime- very refreshing, and my body doesnt feel weighed down. But if he means the regular j-beers, I agree. I had an Austrian one last night- nothing special, no real strong taste, just beer, but, it tasted ... Good!

Anyone else like Unicum? my favorite drink.

Most intelligent comment in the article:

“Since it’s fermented, makkori is good for you! I looove it!”

uhh, all alcoholic drinks are fermented...

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Love the great microbrews in Japan. Hate the xenophobic protectionist taxation that prices proper beer out of the reach of normal drinkers.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I like serveral of the Japanese beers. Particularly the dry, light flavoured, clean beers such as Asahi and Kirin. Easy drinking and pleasant.

I also really like Nihonshu - some of those are beautifully delicate.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

MMMmmmmMMMmmm Super Dry.....Had 2 cans today watching the news while the wife was shopping with her Mom.

Great day!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

But if it's the "fake" cheap beers of the last couple years (happoushu), I will speak in their favor- I like the light empty taste, especially in the summertime- very refreshing, and my body doesnt feel weighed down.

Agreed. I've got so used to the Kirin Green Label 70% less sugar version, that a can of "normal" beer, like Super Dry or Ichiban Shibori, is horribly thick and sweet.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

I never could understand the layman's fascination with beer. There are about a million different cocktails I would take over a beer. Why aren't cocktails on the list? I mean, I like gin, but I never drink it straight.

Anyway, beer. Few times have I ever desired a bitter drink. But even then, I certainly did not want something that made me bloated and sent me running to the toilet so much just to get a good drunk going. One of my favorite memories was playing hackey sack as a teenager and passing around a bottle of whiskey.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )


That is nasty stuff.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

In Summer, a Beer Garden is the place for me, but I'm not going to drink beer at an Izakaya, and while a pint of Guinness hits the spot with a hearty meal, it's wine for fine dining. Nothing better with a good cigar than a Highland single malt, but I'm not gonna pair Scotch with a Chinese meal; that's beer. Shochu with highly spiced food or yakiniku or yakitori. Favorite? Favorite with what?

My first taste of Japanese beer was Kirin - at 10 years old. I went on a JTB tour of the Kirin brewery, and at the end they gave us all a good round of tasting - including me; no one said boo - not even my parents. I do wish Japanese micro-brews were more available outside Japan. Any recommendations?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Beer for me!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A big beer at Lion Beer Hall in Ginza is a classic experience. I can not believe how many kinds of beer there are.. way to many options.. Yebisu and all malt beer is probably best for you and there are some nice microbrews.. remember that the fresher the beer is the better and drinking beer out of a green bottle like Becks or Heineken is best.. here is cooking with beer in Hawaii

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Here is a Beer Run video taken in Katchidoki ..

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Sapporo Classic drunk IN SAPPORO is excellent.

The new Ebisu - Joel Robuchon is a lovely beer.

And almost anything by Yona Yona, especially Aooni!

There is good beer in Japan and you don't have to pay an arm or a leg for it, but it can take a bit of searching.

Of Japanese liquors, Kokuto Shochu from Amami Oshima is very good. Drink it with mineral water in the summer. Highly recommended!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

No wonder beer is n.1 the summer here makes it hard to stay away from a very very cold beer.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Love the great microbrews in Japan

You said it japan_cynic! The microbreweries here and pretty much anywhere rock! They are great. Japanese beer on average is much better than say Australian beer but Belgian and German beer are still the kings of the game in my opinion.

When it comes to wine, don't touch the local stuff with a 20ft bargepole if you can help it! because it's mostly pretty nasty. You have to fork out A LOT of money to get a decent tasting Japanese wine that won't leave you with a hangover, while for about half the price you can get a decent Chilean, Australian, NZ, South African, Californian or French wine.

Japanese whisky also is very, very good. 12-yr 'Hakushu' (a single malts' whisky) is, and Scottish and Irish people will probably kill me for saying this but.....surpsingly good.

The Japanese certainly know how to make a good whisky and beer but when it comes to wine, I thought the soil is too damp to make good vineyards here. Just my two cents.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Beer! Miss the Japanese beer I enjoyed when visiting. They sell Asahi here in the USA, but its brewed on this side of the pacific, not sent from Japan. Not bad, but not as good as the real thing.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Asahi Super Dry is a great beer. There's nothing else like it out there. And for those beer enthusiasts who wax on and on about how "real" beer shoud be, how wonderful would your favorite beer in the world be if Japanese brewers made exact copies? Live a little. Branch out and learn that different brews can be good for different reasons.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )


I'm not gonna pair Scotch with a Chinese meal;

The Chinese do ! At least when I was invited to a New Year party on a Chinese ship, the food was served with brandy ! (They may have also had whisky, I didn't ask for either...)

Wine with my food, "Mai-tai" before and/or after, Yebisu (bottled, not in a can) on a hot summer's day. Ricard is also great, especially on a hot day, as an appetizer and any of the "digestifs", that happen to be in the house, after dinner...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What about them good ole boy's Moonshine? I here that white dog mash #1 by buffalo trace is125 proof, a real " Mind Scambler"...That's what I here...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Brings back memories. My first choice was Kirin beer. Good stuff, no headache like I get from American beer. Round about 1965, Sapporo came out with "micro bubbles" and the stuff gave me the familiar "Gaijin Beer" headache. Back to Kirin. Second choice: Akadama Port Wine. Since I drank in moderation, "Akadama Head" was not a problem for me. By the way, what happened to the name Sake?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

De gustibus non est disputandum. Personally, I find the very popular Asahi Super Dry, and other "dry" beers, pretty dreadful, since it seems to me that they sacrifice depth and complexity--and most of their flavor--for the "dry", "thirst-quenching" feel.

I'd rather drink an ale with some personality, or the occasional stout, or if a mass-produced Japanese beer, Yebisu (their Kohaku is fairly good, too, IMO). Edelpils is interesting, but not easy to find.

I'll settle for Kirin if that's what's available; it's not terribly distinguished, but it's much better, IMO, than any "dry" beer.

I can't really consider the various happo-shu pseudo-beers among things I'd drink by choice. I'd sooner drink a chu-hai or a highball, even though they're not high on my list of preferences.

I've been known to put away a fair bit of Scotch or Irish whisky. straight with a no-ice soda chaser by preference.

And a good dark rum, straight with champagne for a chaser, is hard to beat.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

My favourite tipple: bold Australian Shiraz and Sancerre although a cold beer is very refreshing on a hot day.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One respondent comments, "Its tastes like juice when mixed, so even though I usually can't drink alcohol, I can drink shochu." Shochu is easily combined with a number of juices or cocktail mixes and the alcohol flavor is easily masked, making for a crowd-pleasing beverage.

I never really understood this premise - I don't like alcohol, so I'm going to still drink it but in a way that I can't taste it. How about, say, just drink juice and save your money?

Wine is at the top of my list. While I was happy to find some wine selection here in Japan at local shops and some grocery stores, the selection in many stores is heavily slanted towards French, especially mediocre ones unless you're willing to spend an arm and a leg. I do wish mid-range Australia and NZ wines were a bit more widely available.

The common beers are, for the most part, something to help the yakitori go down easily. They can also be very refreshing in the warm weather. It's just hard to get excited over them - they're just so, umm, fungible.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Asahi, Sapporo, Kirin, Yebisu and Suntory Premium = OK, fine, not bad, alright and decent - certainly better than stuff like Budweiser, but come on - after awhile these all become incredibly boring. There are some very good, interesting microbrews out there especially YoHo`s Yona Yona and anything from Baird Brewing, but I imagine the mega breweries spend a great deal of time and effort locking out the competition.

Yokohama now has some bars specializing in craft beer. Hopefully, as more people get to try some really great beer, word-of-mouth will spread and we`ll see more of a selection at regular bars, convenience stores and supermarkets.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As long as it's REAL beer.

Which is why I drink wine.

It boggles the mind that izakaya, places literally named after drinking, generally have one or two beers on offer, always from the same company. There are interesting Japanese beers (Hitachino Next, which my friends in New York tell me is big there). They're just not available.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is this the only country where you order "Beer, please?"

Why do they do this?

I mean, you don't go into a restaurant and order "Food, please," do you?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

"I drink wine"

Containing sulphites?

I'll take wine containing sulphites over that nasty shochu.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Come now, Mr. Wooster, there's much more choice than you let on. You can have your Kirin in a bottle or a small mug.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Is this the only country where you order "Beer, please?"

I think that in Japan probably 85% of beer sold in bars and restaurants is one of the big 3 - Asahi Superday, Sapporo or Kirin Ichiban. Suntory never seems quite as common as the other. This is incredible that only 3 beers should be so dominant in a country of 120m people. I like these beers, but the difference between them is pretty marginal and there is nothing like the diversity you get in most other beer-drinking cultures. USA, continental Europe, Britain have a great selection of beers.

I think only Ireland has an equally limited selection, suffering from the dominance of the overrated Guiness porter, the appalling Smithwick and Caffreys keg ales and Harp lager.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


You can have your Kirin in a bottle or a small mug.


But I'd like to make a confession.

I can't taste any difference!

Nessie, you're lucky. You're in Sapporo, right?

You can go to Mugishutei. 300 kinds of beer!

Oh, I miss that place.

And Phred too, of course!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think only Ireland has an equally limited selection, suffering from the dominance of the overrated Guiness porter, the appalling Smithwick and Caffreys keg ales and Harp lager.

Bass, Murphy's, Beamish, Kilkenny?

I'd trade all the beers in Japan for any one of the above.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the world is full of alcoholics. Japan has a huge amount of alcohol abusers. I love to have a beer and sushi at 7:30 AM on the Shinkansen from Tokyo station to Osaka. Other than that an occasional drink is fine but many people drink alcohol daily. It is not physiological good fro you to drink too often but some drinking is certainly better than none.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


You can get Kilkenny and Bass almost anywhere in Japan surely.

Where they have Guinness they usually have Kilkenny.

Though it doesn't taste like the Kilkenny in Eire.

And the Guinness they serve here - it's a kind of coloured Budweiser.


But Murphy's and Beamish . . . Yes. I feel your pain!

Kirin used to make an excellent Kirin Stout.

For some unearthly reason, they stopped making it.

That was the only Japanese porter I've found that was worth drinking.

Mind you, Phred does have a very nice Brown Bear (kuro kuma) aka Shakespeare Stout that's really good.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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