Why is Beer So Popular in Japan?

japanese beer

I recently watched a funny reality television show while I was flying on a business trip. The biggest thing that stuck out to me was that in Japan, beer is very popular.

By the way, I am usually not interested in television shows unless they are about blue-collar workers or prison.  I don’t know why but those types of reality shows are very interesting to me. Locked up Abroad, Inside the World’s Toughest Prisons, World’s Most Dangerous Prison, Alaska Fish Wars, Alaska State Troopers, Most Dangerous Catch, Ax Men, Swamp People, Mountain Men, and Ice Road Truckers are the types of shows that sucker me in. I really don’t get it. I’m a CPA who likes running and sports. So why am I obsessed with these reality shows?

But the one I watched recently while flying was called “Better Late than Never.” and it was pretty interesting. Another reality show for me to watch…

Which brings me to another strange obsession: the Japanese obsession with beer!

Japanese Love Beer: Who Knew?

I am not a big traveler so this show about some older celebrities living in Japan was interesting to me. It was actually pretty funny even though I couldn’t hear the commentary or dialogue. I didn’t want to pay for the headphones on the plane and figured they might have subtitles – but they didn’t. There were a lot of interesting things about Japan in the show, from the culture and lifestyle of those in the city to the beautiful snow-covered mountains of the north.

But aside from all that… there was also a segment in the show about how the Japanese love beer. I knew that the favorite drink of Americans was beer and I think everyone knows it is the favorite of Germans.  But the Japanese? I guess I would have guessed that it was Sake.

Apparently about a third of Japanese drinkers prefer beer. That is a pretty big group. Compare that to about 43% of people who prefer beer in America.

I guess when the country has beer vending machines you know it is popular.

Beer Vending Machine
Photo Credit: Oxborrow – via Wikipedia Commons
Kids Beer?

So the other interesting thing about beer in Japan is the non-alcoholic drink called “Kids Beer.” I’m not joking.  This is a very popular product. I am not a big fan of that because I wouldn’t want my kids getting used to beer. I don’t really understand why anyone would want to buy this for their kids.

The idea seems to be to include kids in family celebrations but with their own drinks. Apparently it doesn’t taste like beer but rather like a grape soda so it wouldn’t cause kids to get a taste for beer.

Kids Beer, Japan
Kids Beer

The main point seems to be for the drink to look like beer so everyone feels included. I would liken this to Root Beer in the United States. You know kids are always joking about it being beer. The only difference is that it doesn’t have a frothy head like a typical beer and like the Kids Beer does in Japan.

Have any experiences with Japanese beer? Have you ever seen Kids beer?

Author: Patient Wealth Builder

I live in the Mid Atlantic region with my wife and children. I am a finance manager for a Fortune 100 Company with over 10 years experience and have an MBA and CPA – but my true passion is investing!

10 thoughts on “Why is Beer So Popular in Japan?”

    1. That is very interesting. I never understood this until the show. And I actually still don’t fully understand it. I would absolutely love to visit and go to some of the top sushi places and generally take in the culture etc. I would also love to go snowboarding there. Growing up and reading all of the snowboarding magazines they would always visit Japan and it was so amazing to think about going somewhere on the other side of the planet and snowboarding. Now I can do that AND have a beer. Thanks for stopping by Mr. Tako!

  1. I would be doomed in Japan. I don’t like alcohol at all so I’m sure I would get weird looks during business dinners and potentially upset my hosts. Maybe I could convince the waiter to put kids beer in a glass so the “adults” wouldn’t know. Really interesting post. Thanks for sharing!!!
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    1. I don’t know if I would do very well either. But I never knew it was so popular over there. Who would have thought that Japan was so crazy about beer? I’d love to get my hands on some kids beer and see what it is really like. I have had some of the Japanese beers and they are pretty good.

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