The land of the rising sun seems a little slow on the rising part most days. From drinks after work to goodbye parties, New Years, forget the old year, hanami, fall colors, karaoke, birthdays, deaths… ugh… I am getting hungover just thinking about it all. In Japan, there always seems to be a good reason to drink, and drink they do. If you over-indulge, here are some methods of getting on with your day with as little unpleasantness as possible.
To start with, there is Ukon No Chikara, pictured above. This is the quintessential anti-hangover remedy, religiously purchased by proffesional drinkers (host and hostess club workers, bar owners, etc) and non-professional alike as if some kind of ritual of protection before they embark on yet another pilgrimage into drunken debauchery.
Ukon is Japanese for turmeric, which reportedly will detoxify your liver and gives the beverage that distinctive orange coloring and odd but not unpleasant flavor. “Drink this before you go out drinking, and wake up feeling fine” is the mantra, but you can definitely out drink Ukon’s ability to save your morning. I warn you not to try this product after you have already been drinking, it tends to end in orange vomit. Gross, but true. If you drink an Ukon no Chikara you should also drink as much water as possible before retiring for the evening, and perhaps take an aspirin. A warning here, You should never take acetaminophen products like Excedrin or Tylenol after drinking. These products are hard on your liver, and your liver is already very unhappy. Avoiding liver failure is good policy.
Its too late for ukon, you forgot to drink water before bed, you were out of aspirin, and that last 8% Chu hai tall boy was plain and simply a bad idea. On top of that, you have to be to work in 30 minutes, and you need to get yourself together quick. What to do?
Here is the plan. Get yourself up and out of the house by any means required. Avoid the temptation to drink coffee if possible. You are already dehydrated, and coffee is a diuretic. Miso soup and rice is a classic hangover breakfast in Japan, as is okayu or rice porridge. Bananas are a great way to replace the potassium your binge has cost you. Simple is good.
Get yourself to a convenience store and you will find a variety of tonics to get you back on your feet. Tried and tested by an army of salary men, these products rock. There are many products, and in Japan products get introduced and retired regularly, but these were available in the convenience store at the time of writing; so that is what you get.
The names are not really that important, I think if you need to remember something, just remember 二日酔い、(hutsukayoi) which means hangover.
Find a clerk who looks like a college guy, drag him over to the energy drink cooler and repeat that word. If you’re lucky, he will help you out. I asked around the office here, and the Japanese staff returned mixed results. It seems like Kabakawa A (small bottle green cap) is probably the most popular, while the sorumakku (tall, green and orange label) is the one I used to use. Here is a new one; hutukayoi nomisugiru (gold label), and it seemed to work pretty well.
From the energy drink cooler head straight to the sports drinks. Pick yourself up a bottle of Pocari Sweat, Aquarius, or other sports drinks. If they have them, why not throw a banana into the mix? An interesting Japanese remedy is pickled plums, or umeboshi. They contain pyric acid, which I hear settles your stomach and helps your well abused liver.
Chug the energy drink and dump the bottle right there in the store. Wolf down the banana and eat the plum on the way to work, and then sip on your sports drink. Spread it out over an hour for maximum absorption. After that, water is your friend.
I hope that helps, and I am including some interesting links on the topic. Check it out.
Best cure for a hangover yet? Stop drinking so much!