If you’ve ever been to Japan, you might be familiar with a certain alcoholic beverage that would definitely not be legal in any bar or pub in Australia thanks to our Responsible Service of Alcohol laws. It’s called chuhai, and is made from a Japanese liquor called shochu. There are plenty of different brands you can buy (my favourite being Strong Zero) but for the sake of the story, we’ll refer to the beverage as ‘Chu Hai’ because hey, it sounds way more Japanese.
The Chuhai Experience
Chu Hai gets you a special kind of drunk, one that can only exist in the wonderfully wacky Japan. Did I mention that it only costs about 100-150 yen per can? Let’s say you’ve just purchased your first can (I firmly recommend the peach flavour, and avoid any citrus options). You’re now ready to get ‘Chu Hai’d’ (this is a new verb which can be used to describe the type of intoxication you will experience upon consuming this beverage). You take your first sip, and think “Wow! This is delicious!” Unless, of course, you bought a citrus flavoured can against my advice, and your reaction will likely be pure disgust followed by some dry retching. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Wandering around the city of Tokyo, you’re amazed at all the colour and lights. Oh, is that another sex shop? The Chu Hai is telling you to go inside, but you know you have more important things to do. Moving on, and you’ve finished the first can. Wow, you’re feeling light-headed and ready to make some bad decisions. One can? You take another look, and realise in the mess of Japanese writing that there’s a number with a percentage next to it. 9%? Uh oh.
If you’re smart, you’ll immediately start drinking your next Chu Hai upon completion of the first. Mmm, they’re starting to go down nicely, aren’t they? Your body is certainly reacting to this nice new addition to your bloodstream, and so is your head. Has it really only been two cans? You feel at least 10 beers deep by this stage. Unless you’re a lightweight, then I’d probably recommend just one can, but hey, I’m not going to stop you. I’m a lightweight myself and my record is 4 cans of Chu Hai in one night – go me! I did eat a chicken burger thinking it was a veggie burger at McDonalds though, and considering the fact that I’m a vegetarian, that was quite the slip up. Damn Chu Hai.
The Power of Chuhai
So anyway, by now you’ve finished two cans, and you may be onto the third. I hope it’s peach flavoured, for your sake. It’s time for karaoke! You are up on stage, and the Chu Hai is rapidly flooding your veins and encouraging you to perform. “You’re a star!” says the Chu Hai, “Sing an Adele song, they’ll love it!” You are now woefully belting out the lyrics to ‘Hello’, making a noise similar to that of a cat after it has been thrown into a bathtub. You don’t care though, that Chu Hai confidence is making you invincible, and the crowd loves you!
The Next Day
The next thing you know, you’re rolling over, moaning about the pounding sensation in your head. You open your eyes. They’re bloodshot, and you know this without needing to look into a mirror. Your mouth is drier than a desert, and you’re still wearing your clothes from last night. What happened? You vaguely remember singing karaoke but hey, you’re in Japan, so that’s a given. You stumble to the bathroom and catch a glimpse of yourself. You are the definition of hungover. Your memory of the previous night is blank, and the last thing you remember getting on stage and singing that ill-chosen Adele hit. There’s only one thing to blame, and it isn’t yourself.
A shower, a litre or two of water, and a good ramen feed later and you’re back wandering the streets of Tokyo, ready for another day of exploring. Your hangover can wait, you’re in a different country and its time to see the sights. During your wandering, you find yourself drawn to the nearest Family Mart or 7/11 store. After a few mouthfuls of that life-saving greasy chicken, you walk towards the back where the fridges are, and know that you will eventually regret what you’re about to do. You reach inside and grab a Chu Hai, peach of course, you won’t be making that mistake again. You crack it open on the street away from judging eyes, and take a sip.