With the advent of summer comes a flurry of beverages. Many of the drinks you can find in Japan are seasonal; they are only available at certain times during the year (much like egg nog in the U.S. in December).
This summer brings a variety of new flavors with bright, interesting designs. This wouldn’t be a problem, but because the drinks contain alcohol, I do find myself somewhat concerned for the welfare of unwitting tourists.
Take a look at the picture below. These are four drinks available all across Tokyo. All of these drinks contain alcohol (about 3%-4%). They’re all in eyecatching cans in a variety of designs, and if your Japanese kanji knowledge doesn’t include the word for “alcohol,” you might end up surprised (and a little silly) after purchasing any of these.
The leftmost can says “apple” across the side, and is apparently supposed to be an apple juice-like drink for summer. The blue “lifeguard” can gives consumers the impression they can enjoy alcohol and an energy boost in the same can. The last two are mild, tasty fruit mixtures – perfect for a day at the beach.
One thing they all have in common is the Japanese word for alcohol: “sake,” or “酒.” If you see this on a beverage, outside a restaurant, on a menu, etc., this connotates an item (or items) that has the potential to make you intoxicated.
Yes, for those wondering, “sake,” the word we use in the west for Japan’s rice wine, is actually the word for alcohol. The word for “sake” as westerners are familiar with it is “nihonshu” (knee-hone-shoe) or “日本酒.” It literally means “Japan alcohol.”
This blog post has been entered as a part of the Japan Blog Matsuri for July, hosted by NihongoUp!