Posts Tagged beer

40 Beers in 40 Days

Taking a short break from being seriously behind on my blog, I’d like to bring you from the world of 2006 into the present for a moment.

I’m writing this post in March 2018, just over 4 months away from my 40th birthday. This is a scary number for me, as I still remember how much I made fun of my father when he turned 40. My wonderful wife (aka The Penpal for those who have been reading my blog) asked me if I wanted to do something special for my big upcoming birthday. Inspired by eating 30 wings for my 30th birthday, I told her that I wanted to drink 40 beers for my 40th birthday.

My wife is an intelligent, caring woman. She politely and correctly expressed concern at the consequences of consuming 40 beers at the same time.

A few days later I was at Tiny Dog’s 4th birthday party and was telling this idea to my friend Junk (who also appears occasionally in my blog). Junk suggested that instead of drinking 40 beers at once and dying, I should try to drink 40 different beers in 40 days leading up to my birthday.


Drinking in Japan’s 40 beers in 40 days birthday celebration

I am looking for suggestions to help me drink 40 different beers in the 40 days leading up to my 40th birthday. My guidelines are:

  1. The beer should be something I can get in or near Manitoba
  2. I’m not a fan of super hoppy beers. Suggestions to try a quadruple IPA hopsplosion will likely be politely declined
  3. I want to drink the 40th beer on my birthday, so I need to start in mid June

Start sending your ideas now! You can use the comment box below or reply on Twitter. Comments may not appear immediately due to the spam filters on WordPress.



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February 9, 2006 – Never leave your beer unattended

After work I went out for some beer with Palmer, Azeroth, and Christopher Cross at our favourite izakaya.

For the past few months, Christopher Cross and I have become very competitive at chugging beer. I can’t drink a lot of beer, but I am able to pound them back pretty quickly when needed. This is a skill I acquired during my fraternity days in Canada, and that I have been practicing in Japan. Usually I am one of the fastest, but young Christopher managed to beat me more often than not.

We decided to order a round of beer for the next stage in our never ending competition. Coincidentally, we both had to go to the washroom at the same time, right after we had placed our order.

One of the many cool things about Ryoba is the urinals; they look like barrels cut diagonally, and they are filled with ice cubes. There is something strangely satisfying about trying to melt as many ice cubes as you can while using them. Please note: we did not attempt to compete with each other at this.

We returned to the table to find our beer had arrived, although it looked uncharacteristically foamy. Having already enjoyed a few beverages, we decided to ignore this and start the countdown for our race.

One, two, three, SALT!!!

We pounded back our beers in a few seconds each, and then did our best not to undrink them just as quickly. The foaming was caused by the soy sauce that Azeroth and Palmer had added to each of our beers while we were away. Soy sauce infused beer is NOT good.

Christopher and I decided that the best way to get the salty taste out of our mouths was to order another round of refreshing beer, which we guarded very carefully.

Never leave your beer unattended!

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November 10, 2005 – A remedy for stress

I’m not exactly sure why, but I was really stressed out today. Like one of those situations where stress is squeezing your brain and lying on top of you like a weight on your chest.

Fortunately living in Japan there is a good remedy for this: after work I enjoyed some beer and friend stuff on sticks. Yum!

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October 13, 2005 – Emergency beer

One of the teachers at Numazu NOVA cancelled on their shift at the last minute. During the rush to rearrange the schedule, Super Dave got stuck with 4 voice classes out of his 5 lessons.

Voice is the open conversation room where students of all levels can attend. Depending on the group of students, sometimes the classes just run smoothly by themselves. Other times the teacher is required to keep things moving and entertain the students. 4 voice classes with largely the same group of students would be exhausting!

Palmer and I decided that Super Dave needed some beer for surviving his crazy day, so we went out for a few after work. Beer doesn’t always solve problems, but it can help occasionally!

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October 10, 2005 – Part of a group

Today a group of people went out for beer and karaoke. I was one of them.

(2015 Update) At some point in the future, I will be asked to sum up my 3 years in Japan. If I only use the words “beer and karaoke”, I will have successfully described about 50% of my time in the country.

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August 27, 2005 – Prank backfired

The main reason for my trip home to Canada was to spend time with my sick sister and help out my parents. However, since I am not sure when I will be home next, it’s nice to get to see people while I am here. Since my sister is doing a bit better, I decided to take the day for myself. Tracking down everyone individually was too difficult, so I told the fraternity guys that I was just going to spend most of the day at the Delta Upsilon House.

During the day, people came and went, and I got to visit and have a few beers. At one point, one of the guys suggested we go for some… um… exotic entertainment. I agreed, and we all piled into the car and went to the old reliable exotic entertainment venue.

Occasionally when I need to entertain myself, I attempt to pay with Japanese yen at businesses in Canada. This usually gets some fun reactions, and is a good conversation starter. I decided that I would attempt to do the same thing at the dancers. Usually during or after a dancer’s set, customers show their appreciation by leaving tips on the stage. I decided to put down a 1000 yen bill on the stage at the end of the set.

The dancer was picking up all of the tips when she came across my 1000 yen note. She picked it up, looked at it, and said “hey, this is a 1000 yen note, that’s like ten bucks!”. She told us that she dances a few times a year at a similar entertainment venue in Roppongi. My friends told her that I was teaching English in Japan. She told me she loved Japan, invited me to see her perform the next time she was in Tokyo, thanked me for the tip, and walked away. That was not the reaction I was expecting at all. My friends laughed their asses off.

Out of all of the dancers in Winnipeg Canada, I attempted my Japanese yen prank on the one that also works in Roppongi. What are the odds?

After another overpriced drink, we picked up BBQ supplies, returned to the fraternity house, and proceeded to eat way too much grilled meat. It was a fun day.

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July 24, 2005 – Celebrating 11 days in a row

Today was the end of my stretch of 11 days of work in a row after my vacation! I survived!

After work I went with some other teachers for “a beer” at the nearby izakaya. While we were there we decided to have some sushi, which required “a few beers”. The Sunday late shift joined us at the izakaya, which lead to “a few more beers”.

At this point, we decided to hop on a train towards Numazu and go for “just an hour” of karaoke. You can probably imagine how that turned out. At some times we had 15 people in our room, and we only showed up with 8. I love celebrating in Japan!!

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April 24, 2005 – Singing Celine Dion for beer

Tonight was another fun night out with Azeroth and friends.

Azeroth was friends with Koalako, one of the students at Mishima NOVA. I had taught her many times before, and she was always a fun person to talk to. Koalako lives in Atami, a nearby city built on the side of a mountain on the ocean. Atami is a terrible place to try to ride a bicycle, but a great place to see fireworks, and is famous for its many hot springs.

I met up with Azeroth, Koalako, and Koalako’s friend (that Azeroth was interested in) in Mishima. I was just finishing work and they had already had a few drinks. We all got on Tokaido line for the 12 minute ride east to Atami. In Atami, we drank beer while walking down the steep roads towards the waterfront. Azeroth, being the classy guy that he is, stopped to pee on the side of the mountain while the ladies and I were watching the fireworks. When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go.

We caught the end of a fantastic firework show, with colours reflecting off the ocean. After the show was done, Koalako got a call from her parents. They had never met anyone from outside of Japan before, so they invited us to have some beer and snacks at their local pub. Azeroth and I are not known to turn down beer, so we were on our way.

The pub was a traditional “snack” style izakaya. The room itself was small, with several tables facing a long bar counter. In total there was probably seating for 25-30 people maximum. It was a small mom and pop bar that catered to a small group of regular customers from the area. The atmosphere was cozy and friendly, especially because we were the guests of some regulars.

Koalako’s parents were very friendly and outgoing. They greeted us and then started ordering an impressive display of izakaya food and beer. All of the beer was in one litre bottles. The women at the table took turns filling up our small glasses every time there was any space in them. Azeroth and I didn’t pour any of our own drinks. When you are drinking from small glasses that are instantly refilled, it is very easy to lost track of how much you have consumed. Naturally, this led to only one possible outcome: karaoke.

Mama-san (the female owner) brought over the microphones and the song list. There were only about 8 English songs in the whole book. The selection would have made Canadian AM radio proud; Elvis, Paul Anka, Ritchie Valens, and for some reason, Celine f**king Dion. Since we were being treated to our beer and food, Azeroth and I did our best to entertain our hosts. My Elvis and Paul Anka were passable (despite not knowing the songs well), but my version of “My Heart with Go On” was epically awful. Azeroth was laughing the whole time at making the Canadian guy sing Celine Dion. However, he did bail me out half way through the song as we turned it into an over the top duet.

After more beer than I can count and some good karaoke thanks to Koalako and parents, we noticed that it was getting dangerously close to the last train of the evening. Koalako’s father was worried that we would get lost walking to the station, so he got mama-san to call us a taxi to get us to the station. We thanked our hosts for the fun evening, and protested as Koalako’s father made sure to pay the taxi driver in advance as we were leaving. Koalako’s father is great!

The train ride home seemed about 6 times as long as the ride there, and the walk back to our apartment took forever, owing mainly to the fact that we were unable to walk in a straight line. The evening was a lot of fun, but I am not looking forward to the next morning.

(2015 Update) This is a greatly expanded version of my post from 10 years ago. I added in a lot of detail and mentioned that Koalako was a student, something that I smartly omitted the first time around. I ran into Koalako’s father when I was visiting Japan in 2013, and found that he was still as friendly and outgoing as ever.

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November 10, 2004 – Ryoba

After work I went to a chain izakaya called Ryoba with Azeroth. They specialize in cheap sushi and 100 yen draft beer. The beer was nothing special, but the sushi is amazing, especially considering the price. I can understand why Numazu is known for its sushi.

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June 28, 2004 – Beer at the movies

One of the breakfast options at Jonathan's

One of the breakfast options at Jonathan’s

In the morning I gathered up my family and we went for breakfast at Jonathan’s, a family restaurant near Mukogaoka Station. Jonathan’s has a breakfast menu with some familiar foods that I thought wouldn’t scare my family. They were a little surprised that the standard eggs and meat breakfast came with salad instead of some kind of potatoes.

After breakfast we spent a few hours exploring the nearby Daiei store. Supermarkets in other countries are always interesting. Like my other visitors, my family commented on the huge fish section and small meat section, which is exactly the opposite of supermarkets in central Canada.

My family wanted to have a fairly uneventful first full day in Japan. After exploring the neighbourhood and stores around the Noborito area. we headed back to Hello House. My parents wanted to have a nap before our evening plans of dinner and a movie. My sister and I went to wake them up two hours later from a deep sleep. They woke up confused and disoriented, believing it to be morning instead of evening. First time jet lag is terrible!

After finally convincing my parents that it was still Monday afternoon, we all walked to Noborito station and took the Odakyu line to Shin-yurigaoka station. There is a large shopping area and movie theatre near the station, with lots of good restaurants. Our first stop was the movie theatre to get tickets for later. My parents and I got tickets for Harry Potter 3, while my sister got a ticket for The Day After Tomorrow (she had already seen Harry Potter). The family was pleasantly surprised to see that the theatre offered reserved seats, so we wouldn’t have to rush back and line up before the movie.

We wandered through the huge selection of restaurants in the department store’s upper floors. My mom and sister wanted noodles, but my dad wanted something with meat. Fortunately the restaurants had a ticket system, so he would not need to communicate with anyone.

Restaurants with a ticket system are common in Japan, usually in train stations or other areas with high customer volumes and limited menu options. You simply insert money into the ticket machine and then push the button corresponding to the food you want. The machine will return a ticket with your order. After you have your ticket, you can sit anywhere in the restaurant and present the ticket to the waiter that comes by. Within minutes you will have your food.

I helped my dad buy a ticket from the machine, and took my mom and sister to get some noodles. In Canada there is a perception that Japanese portion sizes are small. They were shocked when the waitress returned with bowls of soup large enough to bathe a baby in. (author’s note – do not bathe a baby in soup).

We met up after dinner and returned to the movie theatre. I translated the snack menu, which was easy because it was mostly in katakana. When I got to the drinks I noted that beer was available. My dad asked if I meant actual beer, the kind with alcohol. I told him yes, they sold cans of Asahi Super Dry. With a huge smile on his face my dad got me to order him a can of beer for the movie.

The movie, like the others in the Harry Potter series, was fantastic. I tried to read as many of the Japanese subtitles as I could while watching. My dad smiled the whole time while sipping on his can of beer. After the movie we returned to Hello House and called it a night.

It was a great first day in Japan for my family.




Explore neighbourhood

Beer at movies

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