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Drinking establishments in Japan - statistics & facts

Production and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Japan predate the introduction of the nation’s writing system, hinting at the central position of alcohol in Japanese society. The administration of alcohol production, as well as the produced contents, have dramatically changed throughout history, but alcohol consumption has stood the test of time and is presently a widely accepted and endorsed recreational activity in Japanese society. Alcohol consumption contributes to Japan’s public finance through revenues gathered from national liquor taxes. A good deal of alcohol consumption, and consequently expenditure, happens in drinking establishments. Japan has a wide variety of drinking establishments which are divided up into several market segments. This includes different types of izakaya (Japanese-style dining pubs), different types of bars, ryotei (traditional high-end drinking establishments), nightclubs, karaoke boxes, and coffee shops. The vast number of late-night liquor-serving establishments in the country underpins the status of drinking establishments in Japanese society as a place for social interaction, contributing to leisure and recreation in Japan. The restaurant industry, of which drinking establishments are a part, is an important workplace provider. The workforce market is characterized by high competition, low wages for non-managerial positions, is female-dominated, and has a low share of full-time employees. Consumers are attracted to drinking establishments, among other aspects, because of the informal settings offered in which one can enjoy quality alcoholic beverages with colleagues, friends, or new people.

Traditional drinking establishments

The various market segments mentioned above represent different establishment types. Their common denominator is that business is centered on selling alcoholic beverages to customers, except for coffee shops. Izakaya and ryotei are traditional Japanese drinking places. Beer is the most common alcoholic beverage consumed at drinking establishments, but facilities usually provide a wide array of liquors. Next to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, typical Japanese drinking establishments also have a broad variety of foodstuffs on the menu. Food usually comes in the form of side dishes and includes staple items such as edamame (green soybeans), green cabbage, yakitori (grilled chicken), and raw or prepared fish dishes. Izakaya are common and are characterized by affordable prices and a lively atmosphere. Ryotei are high-end establishments and are characterized by high prices, luxury, and classiness. Traditionally, ryotei visits featured entertainment services by geishas and catered to political or business meetings. 

Business during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the restaurant industry hard. Most types of restaurants suffered greatly under the pandemic with overall sales revenues experiencing an unprecedented decline. As of August 2021, nearly half of Japanese prefectures, including all major metropolitan areas, are under a state of emergency that was scheduled to last at least until mid-September. However, the odds are high that further postponements will be agreed upon, depending on the development of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the dining industry was identified as the main source for the spread of the virus, emergency measures currently consist of tightening service hours and constraining the consumption of alcoholic beverages at drinking establishments. This strategy is reflected in figures suggesting a decline in expenditure on dining out. Government subsidies prevented a wave of bankruptcies in the restaurant industry, but with the pandemic not going anywhere soon, and with a slow rollout of the vaccination campaign, the future of the restaurant industry is looking bleak, especially for drinking establishments.

Key figures

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Foodservice industry

Alcohol consumption

Karaoke

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 27 most important statistics relating to "Drinking establishments in Japan".

Drinking establishments in Japan

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Drinking establishments in Japan - statistics & facts

Production and consumption of alcoholic beverages in Japan predate the introduction of the nation’s writing system, hinting at the central position of alcohol in Japanese society. The administration of alcohol production, as well as the produced contents, have dramatically changed throughout history, but alcohol consumption has stood the test of time and is presently a widely accepted and endorsed recreational activity in Japanese society. Alcohol consumption contributes to Japan’s public finance through revenues gathered from national liquor taxes. A good deal of alcohol consumption, and consequently expenditure, happens in drinking establishments. Japan has a wide variety of drinking establishments which are divided up into several market segments. This includes different types of izakaya (Japanese-style dining pubs), different types of bars, ryotei (traditional high-end drinking establishments), nightclubs, karaoke boxes, and coffee shops. The vast number of late-night liquor-serving establishments in the country underpins the status of drinking establishments in Japanese society as a place for social interaction, contributing to leisure and recreation in Japan. The restaurant industry, of which drinking establishments are a part, is an important workplace provider. The workforce market is characterized by high competition, low wages for non-managerial positions, is female-dominated, and has a low share of full-time employees. Consumers are attracted to drinking establishments, among other aspects, because of the informal settings offered in which one can enjoy quality alcoholic beverages with colleagues, friends, or new people.

Traditional drinking establishments

The various market segments mentioned above represent different establishment types. Their common denominator is that business is centered on selling alcoholic beverages to customers, except for coffee shops. Izakaya and ryotei are traditional Japanese drinking places. Beer is the most common alcoholic beverage consumed at drinking establishments, but facilities usually provide a wide array of liquors. Next to alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, typical Japanese drinking establishments also have a broad variety of foodstuffs on the menu. Food usually comes in the form of side dishes and includes staple items such as edamame (green soybeans), green cabbage, yakitori (grilled chicken), and raw or prepared fish dishes. Izakaya are common and are characterized by affordable prices and a lively atmosphere. Ryotei are high-end establishments and are characterized by high prices, luxury, and classiness. Traditionally, ryotei visits featured entertainment services by geishas and catered to political or business meetings. 

Business during the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the restaurant industry hard. Most types of restaurants suffered greatly under the pandemic with overall sales revenues experiencing an unprecedented decline. As of August 2021, nearly half of Japanese prefectures, including all major metropolitan areas, are under a state of emergency that was scheduled to last at least until mid-September. However, the odds are high that further postponements will be agreed upon, depending on the development of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the dining industry was identified as the main source for the spread of the virus, emergency measures currently consist of tightening service hours and constraining the consumption of alcoholic beverages at drinking establishments. This strategy is reflected in figures suggesting a decline in expenditure on dining out. Government subsidies prevented a wave of bankruptcies in the restaurant industry, but with the pandemic not going anywhere soon, and with a slow rollout of the vaccination campaign, the future of the restaurant industry is looking bleak, especially for drinking establishments.

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