Like most countries around the world, Japan is a bi-measurement country. Land is measured in metres squared, while room sizes are measured in tatami (85.5 cm wide and 179 cm long). Bottles of sake come in millilitres, yet are sold in choko or masu, with the latter having a volume of one gō (180ml). It can be rather confusing having to switch between the two but at least they are standardised and you know how much you are getting for your money.
Beer in Japan is a lot more confusing though. At the time of writing, Japanese beer can be bought in containers of cans which vary in size from 100 ml to 2l. It can be bought in bottles of varying size of 330ml right through to 2l. Talk about a wide variety. Yet you always know how much you are getting for your money. However, the main gripe we have – and the reason for this soapbox – is when it comes to drinking craft beer in Japan. Being from the UK, I’ve grown up knowing beers come in two sizes: half pint (284ml) or a pint (568ml), and more recently, the one-third pint (189ml). This is also true in the USA, but the US pint is about 20% less than a UK one, so about 235ml for a half pint, and 470ml for a pint.
We’ve got the Magna Carta to thank for the British pint as it stipulated “to have your ale served in a standard measure “throughout the kingdom”. Another of the possible reasons for having these uniform sizes is that that the kegs of beer served to bars could easily be divisible into standard units. As such, bar owners knew how many beers could be served from the kegs.
Go into a craft beer bar in Japan and then you could either luck out and be told how big the size of the beer is, or be told a random adjective to describe the glass. Small, medium, or large? Regular? Glass? Pint? Half Pint? Some places thankfully do list the size of the beer next to its description of glass, but we’ve been coming across places that don’t have them. Even the latter “pint” and “half pint” don’t help – US or UK? And in some cases, we’ve found bars that MIX them up! Wasn’t there a big event in 1776 that was supposed to help separate the two? Just checking..<