Thursday, February 19, 2009


I am a teacher. This is a test. Here is a multiple choice question. Please see the attached picture to answer.

This beer cost how much?
A) $0.40
B) $7.00
C) $30.00
D) All of the above
E) None of the above

So, it was a trick question I guess, but the answer if you can believe it or not is a little bit of all of the above, and this is a little story about how it all came to be.

I recently had a chance to go to Japan and travel. First of all I would like to say that Japan was very nice; the people, the food, the streets, the shops, and everything else was just nice. I would have to say it is probably the nicest country I have been in. It really was amazing and I had a great time, except when it came time to pay for things, which was a quite sobering experience indeed quickly dissolving my euphoria.

I was walking through a Buddhist temple/shrine on my recent trip when a nice older woman and her friend approached me. They were maybe about 55 years old and very friendly, but only one spoke English. They said they worked at a bar and told my friend and I that we should come by it later. We decided to say, “Why not?” hahahahaha This time “Why not?” turned into “Pay more!” Or maybe when they said, “Come by,” they really meant, “Come buy.”

After we arrived we sat down at a very small bar with about five comfortable bar stools and two tables in a very small bar room. When I say small I mean small; like my bedroom is larger than this type of bar, but it is Japan and housing, shops, food, clothes and generally everything comes in small sizes so I wasn’t too surprised. We sat down and my buddy ordered a beer of which I had the small glass seen in the picture. Now, I don’t drink much at all but after a while I had another. In the meantime we were given a few free shots of sake of which I took very small sips to just see the flavor. What I found out is that sake does taste subtle, sweet, and smooth. My friend ordered another beer. A couple of hours later after sipping sake, drinking my two small glasses of beer and singing a Karaoke song (Yes, I sung a real Karaoke song in Japan!) the bill came. The sake was of course free as promised, but the bill total was at $180. I had to pay almost a third so that brought my total up to $60 for two small glasses of beer, some free sips of saki and a free karaoke song. The rest of the bill was for my friend. We got a little upset and in the end and got a discount. I paid about $15 total for my two beers and my buddy paid another $25. We left dazed and confused. Were these the real prices? Were we being scammed? In the end we found out that we weren’t. We learnt our lesson well. In Japan always look at the menu first. The bar we were at was just a high-end bar for old men to go and sit alone and talk with the bartender and pay $60 a beer. We saw one such man. (This man is seen in the second pic along with the bartender) As much as we were surprised, he must have been amused that such young foreigners couldn’t shell out the cash he was. In the end I felt a little embarrassed for also not being able to pay $60 for two very small beers, but at the same time now every time I see an $8 beer in Korea I think “What a deal!”

Anyway, I hope everyone is okay sipping on cheap drinks (alcohol or not) and enjoying good free music.

Here are some videos about the trip.