- Marina Tsuji
A Guide to Uniquely Japanese Hangover Cures: From Pre-Drinking Tips to Hangover Foods
Perhaps there are more than a few readers out there who have experienced the headaches (and worse) that follow a night of heavy drinking. This article is a must-read for those who are desperate to avoid the pain of a hangover while in Japan. Here are some of the best foods, drinks, and hangover medicines Japanese drinkers use to stay happy and healthy after drinking!
Drinking Culture in Japan
The custom of getting together with friends and colleagues to attend a drinking party, known as a 'nomikai', is considered an important element of Japanese culture. These parties offer colleagues and friends the opportunity to communicate with one another in an informal setting, and are often held to mark certain occasions, such as the coming of the New Year or to welcome a new colleague to the workplace. It is against this cultural backdrop that Japan has developed numerous methods of combating the hangovers that can be expected after a heavy night of drinking. This article will introduce you to some of these methods, so make sure to try them out before and after your next visit to an izakaya (Japanese pub).
Pre-Drinking Hangover Prevention Methods
In Japan, hangover prevention actually begins before you start drinking. One such preventative measure comes in the form of Hepalyse, of which there are many different varieties. They are essentially nutritional supplements that are full of vitamins that boost the metabolism, as well as amino acids that work to aid liver function. If you are concerned about hangovers then this Japanese hangover medicine, regardless of the form you take it in, is a must before you begin drinking.
For first-timers the 'Hepalyse Drink II' is recommended. It is sold in drug stores and convenience stores all over the country, so it should be easy to get your hands on.
Price: 420 JPY (excl. tax)
*As Hepalyse is a medicinal product, please read the instructions carefully before use.
Ukon no Chikara
Ukon no Chikara is so synonymous with hangover cures in Japan that it is often the first thing that many Japanese people think of when the topic arises. "Ukon" is the Japanese word for turmeric, a plant used in China and throughout Asia as a folk medicine. It provides a shock to the liver that has the effect of creating extra digestive fluids. Ukon no Chikara is created from turmeric extract and is full of the medicinal properties contained in the plant. It is available as a powder and as a drink. For those looking to try in out, the "Ukon no Chikara (Ukon Ekisu Drink)" is recommended. Its selling point is the ease with which it goes down, as the natural bitterness of the turmeric is reduced. It is also easy to come by, being sold in drug stores and convenience stores across Japan. Ukon no Chikara is highly concentrated and is full of medicinal components, therefore, it is not recommended to drink more than one per day.
Price: 180 JPY (excl. tax)
Recommended Hangover Food for the Day After Drinking
Umeboshi (Pickled Plum)
When you are in the throws of a hangover, don't give up! Instead, reach for some pickled plum, known in Japanese as "umeboshi." This type of plum contains citric acid, which combats fatigue and is said to restore liver function in a shorter period of time. Eating the plums on their own should work perfectly fine, but one recommendation for those who are hungover is using chopsticks to place squashed plums into some hot water and eating them that way. This helps to reduce the natural acidity and allows the nutrients and healing properties to more easily enter your system.
Basket Clam Soup
Basket clam soup is what you will want to eat for breakfast the morning after a big night of drinking. Basket clams (called "shijimi" in Japanese) contain a property known as ornithine, which is said to improve liver function and ease the nasty effects of hangovers. Moreover, the miso in the soup contains sodium and minerals which can help a dehydrated body to absorb the benefits more easily.
At convenience stores there are easy-to-make instant varieties of the soup, so if it takes your fancy, then why not give it a try?
Recommended Beverages for the Day After Drinking
Alcohol also has a diuretic side effect that will likely leave you needing frequent trips to the restroom while drinking. This forces the body to expel water, resulting in you feeling dehydrated the morning after a drinking session. For this reason, sports drinks are recommended for hungover mornings in order to rehydrate. It is highly likely that alcohol will have damaged your stomach, therefore, it is said that a sports drink with a high sodium content will be more effective.
When your liver attempts to break down the toxins that have developed as a result of drinking, vitamin C is consumed. When you are short on vitamin C, it can take longer to process than normal. Therefore, when you are hungover, it is a good idea to make that extra effort to take on board some of this particular vitamin. Grapefruit juice is high on vitamin C and allows you to rehydrate at the same time.
These are just some of the popular hangover cures in Japan. In order to avoid the dreadful feeling of a hangover, make sure to try these out, either before you go drinking or the morning after a big night.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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