A bit of trivia; at the time of writing, Japan’s 3rd richest man was Nobutada Saji (& family). Who?!! Is he the head of Uniqlo or Nintendo, or something? No, he’s the former CEO and current chair of Suntory Holdings. What do they do? They sell drinks. Beer amongst others. Yes, beer is big in Japan. If you’re on the right side of it, it could make you rich (it seems). If you’re on the wrong side of it though, it could lead to your financial ruin. See how long that’s likely to take with our guide, How much does it cost to buy beer in Japan?
Expect a bit a variety here with sales and special discounts thrown in. The prices below are from this writer’s local supermarket, and are a selection of the most popular in that location.
A quick note; のどごし / nodogoshi is low-malt beer (hence the cheaper price). In Japan, it’s known as as 発泡酒 / happoshu.
The Vending Machine
Beer vending machines are probably not as common as many would like to think. Still, they are around if you can find em.
Expect 500 ml cans between 190 - 300 yen. 350 ml cans 140 - 210 yen.
The Japanese equivalent of your local boozer. At the cheaper end, expect a lot noise, smoke, and drunk people. At the top end, they have the look of a posh restaurant (only far cheaper).
There are no pints or halves in an izakaya. The glass sizes below are common but there’s no set scale so the actual sizes may vary at each establishment. A common order is 生ビール / nama beer / draft beer. In terms of size, customers tend to accept what they’re given. Expect a size of around 400 ml.
小ジョッキ / kojokki / small glass (200-300 ml)
中ジョッキ / chujokki / medium glass (350-500 ml)
大ジョッキ / daijokki / large glass (~700 ml)
生ビール / nama beer / draft beer
Doma-Doma is a famous izakaya chain, at the cheaper end of the scale. Their beers are ... Small glass: 290 yen / Chujokki: 390 yen / Nama beer: 490 yen.
At an independent place this writer recently visited … Small glass: 300 yen / Medium glass: 600 yen / Large glass: 1,000 yen / Nama beer: 600 yen
The British/Irish Pub
Plenty of them around in urban areas. Some of them, a pale imitation of the real thing. Others, like a home away from home. How much does it cost to buy their beers? Sizes in pints.
Cheap/local lagers: ½ ~ 300 yen / ¾ ~ 550 yen / 1 pint ~ 700 yen
Foreign brews / local favorites: ½ ~ 500 yen / ¾ ~ 700 yen / 1 pint ~ 900 yen
Ales / Guinness: ½ ~ 500 yen / ¾ ~ 700 yen / 1 pint ~ 900 yen
Those looking for more of a challenge might be able to pick up a litre glass of cheap beer for around 1,300 yen.
For bottled beers, expect to pay between 600 - 700 yen (Corona/Heineken/Budweiser). Around 800 yen could get you a Stella Artois.
The Fancy Bar
They come in all shapes and sizes. From streetside platforms for posers and preeners, through to 5 star hotel joints with husky jazz soundtracks.
Small beer (200-300 ml) ~ 600 yen
Large beer (~ 500 ml) ~ 1,000 yen +
For the fancy 5-star-hotel bar with an eye-popping view, don’t expect much choice below 900 yen. The bar frequented by Bill Murray in the movie Lost In Translation was the New York Bar in Shinjuku’s Park Hyatt Hotel. Here, beers are 1,200 yen before the service charge (15%) and tax (8%). Make the most of that view!
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