Japan Eats

Boozehound: Tara no Oka (Nakano)

While Tokyo’s urbanization works its way West and the chain shops of the suburbs work their way into the center of town, variety and smallness go the way of Tora-san films and doing research in libraries – things people over a certain age remember and talk about, but things that just aren’t really around much anymore.boozehoundarticlelogo copy

Thankfully, there are some pockets of interest left around the city and one of those is the area North of Nakano Station east of Nakano-dori and south of Waseda-dori, centered on the narrow, pedestrians-only Fureai Road.

Go one block East of Fureai Road (make a right, then a left if you’re walking from Nakano Station), and two blocks South of Waseda-dori, on a corner on your left-hand side, facing you, you’ll see a green door and an unassuming green shingle reading: Tara no Oka. The Hill of Tara. Read more

Boozehound: Beaujolais Nouveau 2009 hits shelves today!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and what a nice coincidence that the young wines of Southern Europe have just arrived!

Released on the third Thursday of November every year, French distributors such as the inimitable Georges Deboeuf and Mommessin, Beaujolais Nouveau has been a marketing sensation around the world for a number of years now. Tastings, club parties, and high-priced dinners abound, and it wasn’t too long ago that customers would wait in line to sweep bottles of the fruity red wine off the shelves of their local retailer.

Beaujolais Nouveau on display in a Tokyo convenience store.

Beaujolais Nouveau on display in a Tokyo convenience store.

Such was certainly the case here in Japan, the land of ‘if it’s French, then we naturally understand and will pay through the nose for it‘. During the height of the craze, well over 12 million bottles of the stuff were purchased at an average price of around 2,000 yen (US$20, give or take). That was back in 2004 when the marketing machine had everyone enthused that Japan was among the first to taste these young wines due to a simple advantage afforded by geographical location.

But this is 2009. Less than five million bottles are slated for sale this year, and many of them will be sold in plastic PET bottles (cork or screwtop?). The price has also dropped considerably with supermarket group, Aeon, slashing prices to less than 1,000 yen (around US$10).

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