The Japanese love a drink, beer, whiskey and sake are just a few of the favourites. But like most countries, the Japanese have a few customs which are polite to follow.
Getting drunk isn’t very polite and is considered poor manners in formal restaurants in Japan, as you would expect everywhere in the world, but if you are in an Izakaya or street cafe and not annoying anyone, no one cares. Just remember to keep your wits about you and remember how you are going to feel in the morning. If you are going to have too much, just remember that you are in a different country, and traffic, language, signs, local rules and people are all different to home. It’s much safer (although not always as much fun) to stay a little bit sober. It’s not uncommon to see drunken office workers late at night tossing up whether to head home from the Izakaya to the family, or have a quiet sleep (after a few more beers) at the local capsule hotel.
If you are in a round of drinks with others, you shouldn’t get stuck straight into the drinking until everyone at the table has been served their drink, then there’s the toast; glasses are all raised and Kampai is called out. Kampai is the traditional Japanese toast, you might have your own toast, but don’t use the Chin Chin one that’s used in some cultures as in Japan Chin Chin is a slang word for men’s rude bits, so this toast might not go down too well.
If you are drinking by filling your glass from a bottle, you need to serve your friend’s drink first, and he will serve yours before his. It’s considered rude to fill your own glass first. Also, don’t let his or hers drink run out, make sure you top them up before they get to the bottom. If your friend’s glass is getting a bit low, you should get yours down quickly then fill their glass followed by yours.