From Japan with Love: Diving into the International Sensation of Japanese Whiskey and its Cultural Nuances

Mayumi FolioMayumi Folio

The popularity of Japanese whiskey overseas is unstoppable, and its demand is growing every year.

Japanese whiskey is the pride of Japan.

What exactly is Japanese whiskey?

Which Japanese whiskey do you recommend that foreigners would enjoy?

In this issue, we will introduce the charm of Japanese whiskey!

Differences between foreign and Japanese bars

European Bar Style

The world, and the places where people drink alcohol, are different in many different ways.

Pubs in England

Many of the restaurants are like a place where you can stand and have just one beer on your way home from work.

Spanish and Italian bars

Enjoy a light snack and a beer with friends.

French Cafe

A beer at the café-bar, which is open at night in almost the same style as a café.

This is the mainstream.

In Europe and the U.S., the form of service offered in stores where alcohol is consumed is almost the same in all stores.

Of course, there are some restaurants in foreign cities that have their own unique ideas.

However, basically, the style of service is that you enter a restaurant because you want to sit down and talk slowly with someone close to you.

It is very rare to go to a certain restaurant to receive special service over drinks.

In Japan, there are a variety of places where you can drink alcohol, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the variety of service types is the best in the world.

From casual izakaya (Japanese style pubs) to full-fledged authentic bars, you can freely choose the service that best suits your mood and needs in Japan.

Authentic bars where you can enjoy drinks made by Japan’s skilled bartenders, ingenious izakaya (Japanese style pubs), and stores with hostesses who are good talkers….

The taste of the drinks that only the bartender of this bar can produce, the atmosphere of the bar and the service provided, and the presence of that person at the bar are all reasons to go to see him or her.

Enjoying this kind of hospitality connected with people is one of the best parts of a restaurant where you can drink Japanese sake.

Therefore, service and hospitality through alcoholic beverages are also enjoyed by foreigners visiting Japan as a uniquely Japanese style.

Such a scene is nothing out of the ordinary in Japan, but to Westerners, it seems quite strange.

In Europe, most of the stores are located on the street, such as pubs in England and cafes in France.

Riding an elevator to a store in a crowded building in the city is said to be a special Japanese experience in itself.

Authentic bars only in Japan, a Japanese culture.

An authentic bar is a relaxing space for adults who want to enjoy authentic drinks.

Inside the counter are bartenders with skilled skills.

It is a relaxing space to quietly enjoy the taste of alcohol and spend a leisurely time alone or with close friends.

In fact, this authentic bar is only found in Japan.

It is a part of Japanese culture.

Authentic” is originally a Japanese word.

It means “authentic, traditional, and trustworthy,” and it is a bar where you can enjoy authentic alcoholic beverages.

Enjoying Japanese whiskey in an authentic bar, which is a part of Japan’s unique bar culture, is truly a way to enjoy it only in Japan.

The bartenders can recommend the brand that the foreign customer in front of them is looking for from among the many Japanese whiskeys available.

And if you are in the company of a foreigner who does not like too strong a drink, the bartender can also prepare the perfect cocktail for you so that you can all enjoy it together.

However, it is very difficult for foreigners to enter an authentic bar alone, like a high-class sushi restaurant.

Most of them do not have menus, and you have to choose from a list of drinks based on your conversation with the bartender, making it difficult for travelers to casually enter.

In such cases, researching a nice authentic bar in advance and spending an enjoyable time together with foreign customers can be a special memory.

How to enjoy Japanese whiskey in an authentic bar with foreigners?

It takes a lot of courage for a foreigner to stop by an authentic bar alone.

Most of the authentic bars are located inside or underground in multi-tenant buildings, so it is unthinkable for a foreigner to stop by such a place at night in a strange place from a country other than Japan, where security is poor.

However, as Japanese whiskey has become so popular, there is no shortage of foreigners who want to taste good Japanese whiskey when they visit Japan.

Although each country’s guidebooks contain reviews of recommended authentic bars, nothing can compare to the thrill of discovering a famous bar that is not mentioned in the guidebooks and is known only to those in the know.

At Motenas Japan, we have an Authentic Bar that is specially designed for entertaining corporate executives and VIPs visiting from overseas.

The bar is available to members only and can be reserved for private parties, allowing for privacy and the enjoyment of delicious Japanese whiskey from around Japan, selected by our bartenders.

This is a popular plan that allows you and your VIP guests to have an exclusive and relaxing time in an authentic bar completely reserved for you and your guests, with a knowledgeable interpreter and a bartender who is fully trained in the art of whiskey.

Japanese Whisky Experience Plan Introduction Page:

The more special your foreign guests are, the more you want to give them this experience.

Reference site: English article describing a Japanese bar

What should I be careful about when entertaining foreigners with alcohol?

(Related past articles: “Entertaining Foreigners! Simple English and pleasant souvenirs at dinner”🙂

Foreigners who cannot drink alcohol and prohibition of alcohol for religious reasons

It is very important to be cautious when entertaining strict Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims in Thailand and Myanmar, as alcoholic beverages are highly forbidden.

Wine and sake are also forbidden, so be careful when dining.

When Muslim heads of state or royalty visit Japan for a court banquet, they are often toasted with ginger ale or apple juice.

Ginger ale and apple juice are chosen because they are similar in color to champagne and beer.

Instead, the most popular items are sweet and fragrant.

For example, most sweets in the Arab world are small, cute, and based on honey and nuts, and their appearance is reminiscent of Japanese sweets.

There are also many sweets and dishes filled with the fragrance of roses, jasmine, and oranges, as well as incense and perfumes, and they are very sensitive to fragrances.

If you are entertaining people for whom alcohol is forbidden due to religious reasons, of course you need to confirm that the ingredients are Halal food, but how about a tea ceremony with delicious Japanese sweets or an incense ceremony with a nice aroma?

We would like to find a way to enjoy a wonderful time with people who do not like to drink alcohol and who have different tastes.

(Related past articles: “Tea Ceremony Experience! Reasons for its popularity among foreigners and performance in English”

(Reference: “Japan Tourism Agency Manual for Foreign Visitors with Diverse Food Culture and Food Habits”🙂

Manners at the Drinking Table in Different Cultures

Drinking occasions are colored by differences in each country and culture.

Especially when it comes to business, it is important to respect the manners of your counterpart’s country.

Here are some tips on how to behave at the drinking table in Korea, China, and Western countries.


In Korea, where the business scene at the drinking table is said to be very important, there are small unspoken rules.

When toasting, do not raise your glass higher than the person you are toasting, do not drink straight out of the glass in front of your superior, put both hands on the glass when pouring and when being poured, etc.

Although there are detailed rules, it is customary to share a drink with others in order to understand them better.

(Reference site: Korean Manners for Business Drinking)


China is another country where business at the drinking table is very important.

In Japan, it is considered polite to drink up after a toast, and in China, drinking up is a sign of respect for the other person, whereas in Japan it is a sign of respect to drink with the other person.

However, it is a major breach of etiquette to get drunk at a banquet, so care should be taken.

If you are offered a drink, it is considered good manners to offer the same drink back to the person who offered it to you.

(Reference site: Differences between Japanese banquets and Chinese banquets)

Europe and America

In Europe and the U.S., business occasions where alcohol is served are social gatherings such as standing buffet parties.

It is best to drink only to taste, and to avoid complaining about work or getting drunk.

Many Westerners are fed up with the sight of women being the only ones to serve drinks, which is common in Asian cultures, so Japanese people should be considerate of women at parties.

Westerners do not feel the need to talk privately about work until after work, so be aware of the difference in the temperature of the after-five concept.

If you want to get to know them personally, it is better to plan a home party at a private time, such as a weekend, to increase the sense of trust.

How to make foreigners enjoy Japanese whiskey even more

Bar Enjoy yourself in a relaxed atmosphere.

To drink slowly with foreigners in a relaxed restaurant.

It is an irreplaceable time with your loved ones whom you cannot meet easily in a distant country.

There is another important advantage.

That is the ease of listening to conversation.

No matter how confident you are in your foreign language skills, some words are difficult to understand when the other party becomes talkative and drinks are involved.

If there is a lot of noise around you, it will be difficult to hear what is being said, and you will have to listen back, which will ruin the good atmosphere.

If the restaurant itself has a quiet and calm atmosphere, the other party can relax, and it will be much easier for you to hear what they have to say.

If you are entertaining or having a get-together in a private space, it is also a good idea to have a geisha present.

You will be able to experience traditional Japanese culture, and the geisha’s special customer service skills will allow you to focus solely on the conversation with your valued guests.

If it is an important and significant time with a corporate executive or VIP, it will be a more fulfilling occasion.

(Reference article: Click here for details of our tailor-made plans perfect for VIPs from abroad.)

Marriage of food and Japanese whiskey

Another typical way to enjoy Japanese whiskey is to marry a highball with a meal.

This is a very popular way to enjoy whiskey in Japan, as it does not have the bitterness of beer and is lighter than Champagne, making it a perfect complement to any dish.

(Reference site: Suntory: )

Originally, this cocktail was created in England, but it is one of the few ways to drink whiskey outside of Japan today.

With the spread of the highball, whisky has become a more casual, everyday drink in Japan.

Enjoy a highball with food.

It would be a great conversation starter to recommend this way of enjoying Japanese whiskey at mealtime.

Things to keep in mind when buying Japanese whiskey as a souvenir.

After enjoying Japanese whiskey in Japan, how about giving your customers a bottle of their favorite whiskey as a souvenir?

It will be a memory of the good time you had in Japan, and who wouldn’t be happy to receive a bottle of their favorite whisky as a gift?

However, there are some things to keep in mind when giving a bottle of whiskey as a gift to a foreigner who will be returning to Japan.

First of all,

First of all, you want to give it to the customer before he/she finishes packing his/her baggage, if possible, because liquids are not allowed as carry-on baggage.

Japanese people like to give their souvenirs at the end of the flight.

However, it is best not to give it to the passenger on the last day of his/her trip so that he/she will not have to worry about it.

If you tell the customer that you are giving him or her a souvenir when you give it to him or her, he or she will know that it is a souvenir, and it will not be considered rude.

Another thing to keep in mind is customs duty.

In most countries, there is a limit to the amount of alcohol that can be brought in duty-free, so if you exceed that amount, you will have to pay the tax locally.

And if you present too expensive whiskey, you will be charged additional taxes for bringing it into the country.

Each country is different, so be sure to check the customs information of your customer’s country in advance.

(Reference site: JAL country information)

One more thing to keep in mind,

If possible, it would be helpful to use cushioning materials to prevent breakage.

It takes a lot of time and effort to find cushioning materials for a short stay in an unfamiliar country.

So, it would be good to offer them gently with their souvenirs.

(Sagawa Express: How to pack bottles🙂


Alcoholic beverages are enjoyed by mankind in almost every country.

Each country and ethnic group has its own unique alcoholic beverages that are enjoyed in a variety of forms.

In Japan, there are also traditional sake and shochu, both of which have been nurtured by the climate and history of the country.

Whiskey is not part of Japan’s historical traditional sake culture.

However, it has been nurtured by its makers and the four natural seasons of Japan, and now reigns as the world’s leading whiskey country.

Japanese whiskey is a new Japanese sake culture.

The Japanese people’s attitude toward manufacturing and flexible consciousness have always nurtured new traditions and Japanese culture.

Japanese whiskey is a crystallization of Japanese culture, and we hope that people overseas will enjoy it.