Alcohol is cheap in Japan – Japan – no matter where you go in Japan, alcohol is surprisingly cheap at supermarkets and vending machines

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Visitors to Japan will find it a boon of really cheap basic foods and staples. It is an incredible place to find great quality food and drinks at affordable prices. So enjoy it to its max while you are visiting, because there is only so much that you can bring back home.

Japan has a strong, vibrant drinking culture. Many Japanese go out for drinks after work and tend to visit the various izakaya for snacks to go with their beverage. If buying some cans of beer at the supermarket isn’t up your alley, you can always visit one of the various izakaya literally everywhere in Tokyo.

Try some of the beer cans. There are so many flavors such as the Suntory ones with Lime or Orange flavors. Beer cans start from 100 yen.
Try some of the beer cans. There are so many flavors such as the Suntory ones with Lime or Orange flavors. Beer cans start from 100 yen.

One of the strangest things walking into Japanese supermarkets is that there is no separation of alcohol from the rest of the groceries at the shop. In Australia, there has to be a clear separation and you won’t find any alcohol in Coles or Woolworth shelves. During my first visit to the land of the rising land, it was a huge surprise to me that alcohol was out in the open, easily seen by children and best of all they were all incredibly cheap. Plus, some vending machines sell alcohol as well. (I’m surprised by how well behaved and responsible Japanese kids are.)

For example, with a decent exchange rate and even with Japanese goods and services tax I could buy three bottles of Johnnie Walker Red Label in Japan for the price of one in Australia. It is incredible how expensive alcohol is back at home and how cheap it is in Japan.

Bottles of alcohol for relatively low prices compared to elsewhere in the world. You can even purchase them from vending machines across Japan.
Bottles of alcohol for relatively low prices compared to elsewhere in the world. You can even purchase them from vending machines across Japan.

You can purchase alcohol and bring it home, but there is usually a limit. For Australians, you can only bring back effectively two bottles or 2.25 liters per adult otherwise you have to pay a duty on any extra you bring into the country. It sucks. It means you ought to pick the best bottles to bring home and grit your teeth on paying more for the cheaper options back home.

Imagine picking up some Johnnie Walker Red Label for 1,190 yen plus tax or Chivas Regal for 3,590 yen plus tax
Imagine picking up some Johnnie Walker Red Label for 1,190 yen plus tax or Chivas Regal for 3,590 yen plus tax

For me, I usually visit a Don Quijote (or Donki or “Donkey”) store like the Mega Don Quijote at Shibuya before leaving. There I pick up my two bottles and a few other things to get the tax refund and give them as gifts to friends and family.

Also, if you are visiting Japan, you can visit the many beer factories like Suntory, Kirin, Asahi, etc for a free tour. You will need to book in advance. But at least you can enjoy a free beer and see how it is made in advance.

There are cheaper options outside the touristy metropolitan area, but even then some of these prices are incredibly good if you are coming from places like Australia.

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