Oshaku is a Japanese manner-Serve beer properly

March 29, 2011 Juju Kurihara 0 Comments

Last month, serving Belgian beer conmetition in Japan was held in Ginza, Tokyo. It was Reiko Tsuchiya who won.

miss tsuchiyaApparently the taste of beer changes depending on the way of serving it and there are 9 points to do it in the right way; way of washing the gless, the angle of the glass when pour the beer, the thickness of the form (about two-finger) etc…

Miss Tsuchiya will participate in the world competition which will be held in the end of this month in London. Perhaps she is already there and serving the beer. Good luck to her.


Japan consumes quite amount of beer a year. Statistics of the consumption of the beer in 2009 shows Japan consumed 5,982,000kl. and came the 7th in the world. (reference from  Kirin Holdings Ltd.)


It's normal in the business scene that younger salary men serve (oshaku-お酌) older salary men. To know how to oshaku correctly is one of the Japanese manners in the society. It was the first lesson I received at the welcome drinking party in the university.

kirin beerThis is the mystique, three step serving.

1. First slowly then lift the bottle highet in order to make foam.

2. Leave for a moment until the foam lows to half then pour beer until the foam reaches the edge of the glass.

3. Leave it for another moment then pour slowly until the foam comes up 1.5cm higher than the edge of the glass. Here you have super creamy foamed beer.

If you learn this and serve beer properly to your boss, you will get respect by Japanese co-workers as a person with a good Japanese manner.


Here, the video shows how to serve beer properly. The movement is beautiful and when it's done perfectly, even a glass of beer looks so dignified.


Now, I have to admit that I'm not a beer drinker, in general not much of an alcohol fun. One, because I've got typical oriental gene that cannot process alcohol and two, because of the experience I had in the first year of Uni had left me a bit of trauma.

In Japan, back then when I was an university student and until recent, it was a sort of tradition that older students obligated new students to drink. Of course as they are poor students, most of the time they drink the cheapest drink which is beer.


My first year in uni I joined a club, we were only 8 new students in this club. As a tradition, the older students took us to an Izakaya. We were sit in a line and in front of us, there were 10 glasses of beer each.

One of the seniors said, "Welcome to our club. We are happy to receive you guys. Now we like to have a little ceremony as our tradition. You will start to drink all the glasses and the last person have to drink this." He lifted a glass of Shochu.

Eh huh. So after drinking 10 glasses of beer all at once (Ikki-nomi) then as a penalty, someone had to drink another at least 25°C of shochu. Great.

new studentsI explained to them that I couldn't drink alcohol but obviously it wasn't accepted.

So I drank the first one.

Within a second, the back of my ears started boiling and I could felt my face was getting hot.

One senior saw me this radical change and stopped me before I reached the second glass. What a relief but the rest of the students continued to drink. Only boy in that year lost and he drank extra shochu glass…. which came out directly from his mouth with everything.


serving sake

In the next three years, I became a care taker of other students. Making sure the person lying on the corner of the room was breathing or not vomitting. Helping a girl trying to go to the loo but couldn't stand up etc..

The problem is when your senior does oshaku you beer (or any alcohol), you have to drink it as a manner. Even though you suffer from it as a junior, the tradition will be repeated in the next year, you as a senior.

I never liked this type of Nomi-kai (drink party) and way of drinking (Ikki-nomi). Since then, I can't drink beer.


This tradition, Ikki-nomi had became a social problem since many young people were taken to hospital because of alcohol intoxication. The data is a little old but in 2009, 9,435 people were taken to hospital because of that. I'm talking about after the society considered this as a serious problem and had a big promotion about it. Just before in 2005, about 13,585 people were taken to hospital because of alcohol intoxication. Some of them die and the majority are young people in their 20's. My counsin was one of them. Someone found him unconscious and took him to the hospital. He was there all night with a drip and survived fortunately.



Cherry blossom has started blooming already in Tokyo and there will be many Hanami nights in Japan.

I just hope no one will suffer from this Japanese "manner" based on the silly hierarchical system.

Say NO to Ikki-nomi!

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