It's not only me...

Good morning everyone,

The rain came a bit earlier than I expected yesterday, so I got a little wet on the ride home. We may see some rain this morning, but it likely will have stopped by the time any of you are heading for work. The rest of today and tomorrow will be overcast and then we may some more rain on Tuesday and Wednesday. Actually, this whole week is looking a bit grey. I guess you won't have to worry about getting too much sun this week...

One of the things foreigners notice when they come to Japan is how much drinking seems to be going on. Certain Japanese societal circles (the workplace, university clubs, etc) run more smoothly with the help of alcoholic lubrication in the form of after-hours “drinking parties” to facilitate team-building and bonding—it’s called nomication (or nominication), a portmanteau of “nomu” (to drink) and “communication”.

So I was a bit surprised to discover that Japan’s level of alcoholic beverage consumption is actually way, way down.

The new findings, dubbed the “Alcohol Report”, came to light following research conducted by the National Tax Agency in May this year. The report details the average alcohol consumption per person per year for the period 1989–2013. We’ve crunched up all the data into a handy line graph for easy digestion.

As you can see, booze consumption has been dropping pretty steadily for the past several decades. The peak time for alcohol imbibing seems to have been the early ’90s, specifically 1992 when the average person was knocking back some 108 litres (24 gallons) of alcoholic beverages per year. In 2013, that number was down to 82.8 litres. We should also point out that, while Japan’s birth rate is dropping, the number of adults of drinking age has actually increased since 1992. It would appear, therefore, that today’s young people are increasingly abstaining from alcohol at the age when you would realistically expect them to be doing most of their chugging.

So what’s the cause of all this? Healthier living? Rising costs? Social apathy? And is there any connection between Japan’s falling birthrate and the decline in alcohol consumption? (Maybe people would be feeling a little friskier if they were knocking back a few?)

The survey also identified Japan’s booziest prefectures.

As you can see, Japan’s capital leads the way for drunkenness, but since it’s also so densely populated, that’s not so surprising.  I've always been led to believe that Osakans have a fondness for drinking, but these figures don’t really reflect that, since Kansai’s most vibrant prefecture is limping along in 7th place. In case you are wondering where Hiroshima fits in, we're 14th with 84.6L per person consumed, second highest in Chugoku behind Tottori. And which prefecture consumes the least alcohol? That would be Mie with only 63.5L.

Does any of this come as a surprise to you?

Have a great day!

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