You might not believe how hard it can be to get an inexpensive beer in Japan. But, Miki is here to tell us all about it. Better yet, she gives us some tips about how to get around the problem! In this article inspired by Miki’s blog, learn about the cycle of high taxation on alcoholic beverages in Japan and what beer makers are doing about it. If you’ve never heard of beverages called happooshu or “third beer,” this Japanese article will get you in the loop.
Vocabulary: In this article, you’ll learn the following words and phrases:
shijyou – 1: “(town) market” 2: “(the) marketplace”
henka – “change, variation”
sappari to shita – “not too heavy, refreshing”
houritsu – “law”
daisanno – “tertiary”
daizu – “soya bean”
koeru – “to exceed, to cross over, to cross, to pass through, to pass over (out of)”
doryoku – “great effort, exertion, endeavor, effort”
mizunoawa – “coming to nothing”
itachigokko – “game of cat and mouse, vicious circle”
kurikaesu – “to repeat, to do something over again”
asobi – “playing”
tsukuru – “to make, to create, to manufacture, to draw up, to write”
kufuu – “device, scheme”
zeikin – “tax”
bakuga – “malt”
happooshu – “low-malt beer”
endoomame – “pea, string bean”
meekaa – “manufacturer, maker”
kecchaku – “settlement, showdown”
In recent years in Japan, the beer industry has been undergoing a big change. Makers have been contriving new and imaginative ways to produce cheaper beer. The tax on beer in Japan changes depending on the amount of malt in the beer. Therefore, makers produced a new beer-like sparkling alcohol called happooshu, which contains less malt. Happooshu tastes like beer, but it is a bit lighter in flavor. It has gained popularity because the tax for the low-malt happooshu is low, making it cheap to buy. However, the law recently changed, and now they heavily tax happooshu. In the face of higher taxes, the makers developed a new beer. This new beverage is known as the “third beer.” Instead of malt, they make this “third beer” with soybeans or peas. Since this beverage uses little or no malt, they tax it much less than beer or happooshu. Because of its low price, “third beer” started to dwarf happooshu in popularity. But alas, the law changed again. The tax for “third beer” rose, rendering the efforts of makers to produce a cheap beer all for naught. I’m sure they’ll come up with a new way to make cheap beer, though. This endless cycle of making repeated efforts to do something is called itachi-gokko. This word comes from the endless games children play.
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