Drinking Bomb and Shooting Meth: Alcohol and Drug Use in Japan (Paperback)
In Japan, beer has been known, since the 1960s, as the "beverage of the masses," and whisky culture has roots stretching back to the 1950s. Meanwhile, methamphetamine was first developed in Japan and came to be sold commercially by the 1940s, and the country has also experimented with homegrown hangover drugs. By combining studies on each of these products and marketplaces, Drinking Bomb and Shooting Meth explores the efforts of those who brewed, distilled, synthesized, and marketed Western alcohol and innovative pharmaceuticals. Jeffrey W. Alexander asks how these products became so popular, available, and fashionable, and explores what their advertising campaigns say about Japan's shifting culture, which is often quick to absorb and refine foreign wares. Alexander's research highlights themes like the seedy reputation of early bars, the style of prewar beer advertising, the scourge of illicit postwar liquor, the promises offered by hangover pills, and the swift campaign to demonize meth and eradicate its use. Examining these products, as well as their innovators and advertisers, offers us unique and rich perspectives on Japan's experience with drugs and alcohol.
JEFFREY W. ALEXANDER is Dean of Arts and Sciences at Pueblo Community College in Colorado, and was previously Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin at Parkside. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and he writes about the adoption, manufacture, and sale of Western consumer products in Japan. He has lived and worked throughout Japan off and on since 1995, including in Osaka, Kyoto, Okazaki, and Tokyo. After college, he worked as a bartender in a live jazz club in Toyonaka City, where the owner was generous and the cocktails were made the old fashioned way.