Japan Inc. Is Drinking Again

Reinvigorated companies are reviving some cherished boom-era traditions

Yoshikazu Tsuno / AFP / Getty

Japanese businessman and women toast beers after five at a crowded beer garden at Tokyo's Akasaka Prince Hotel.

In a private room at a posh shinjuku crab restaurant, five twentysomethings surround Noboru Koyama, 60, CEO of Tokyo cleaning company Musashino. Koyama looks at his watch--it's 8:30 p.m.--and announces that the party is moving. "O.K.," Koyama says briskly, "we'll do hotel bar, sushi, drag-queen show, hostess club, in that order." The young salarymen, who volunteered to spend Saturday night with their boss, gasp. "We're going to all?"

If you think Japan's hard-drinking business culture is as dead as a Betamax, think again. After more than a decade of austerity (not to mention sobriety) during the nation's economic slump, many Japanese...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!