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JAPANESE ABSINTHE: GOTH SKULLS DIVE BAR IN TOKYO, BAR BREADLINE. BUYING & CARRYING LEGAL ABSINTHE IN JAPAN.


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Is absinthe legal in Japan? It surely is! There’s even a bar in the outskirts of Tokyo dedicated to every permutation of the dreamy green fairy.

Between the Alcatraz ER theme restaurant shoot with Andrew Zimmern and the Department H party, a few of the spooky kids and I went to an absinthe bar: Bar Breadline in Renkon/Hasune (a short subway ride from Sugamo).

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The tiny dive was under a dangerous flight of stairs and decorated with skulls — exactly our style. We each tried a different type of absinthe from various countries. Yukiro’s drink had a whopping 69% alcohol content! The bartender also let us try a Japanese brand; Yukiro and I thought it tasted like motor oil, but Lady Raisu found it agreeable.

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Absinthe is, of course, the most Gothic of drinks (along with blood red wine). Drunk by fin-du-siecle artists and banned in many countries for the supposedly dangerous wormwood content. I love the ritual of setting a sugar cube on fire and watching the liquid drip into the glass. Then comes the taste of licorice and the feeling that you’re floating. The drink also gives me incredibly vivid, lucid dreams.

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As we drifted to the subway, we came across this hilarious poster. It’s a warning against cell phone use in the subways, but the underlying message seems to be: no exposing and touching yourself! (Two of my friends once witnessed exactly that by a young man in a crowded subway…)

Are you an absinthe aficionado? Share your experiences with the Flaming Green Fairy in the comments!

Song of the Day #224: Marilyn Manson – I Put A Spell On You (he’s an absinthe fiend!)

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89 Comments

  1. Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:57 am | Permalink

    looks like fun and lmao at the last picture

  2. Posted October 26, 2009 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    looks like fun and lmao at the last picture

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

      I know, right? I bet that really was the intended meaning.

  3. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    I love Absinthe! ♥ I use to make my own :)

  4. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    I wanna try absinthe xD Grawrg you get to go to the coolest places

  5. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    Hmmmm. I'd like to try Absinthe.

  6. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I forgot to mention — the bar patrons were all regulars and they were so cute to us! They shook our hands and hoped that we'd return. It seems like a small group of fiends gathers here.

  7. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I know, right? I bet that really was the intended meaning.

  8. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    I know, right? I bet that really was the intended meaning.

  9. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I know, right? I bet that really was the intended meaning.

  10. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Really?? How did you make it? Did it have the wormwood in it?

  11. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I have a bunch of places on my list to visit for my Tokyo trip in Dec…

  12. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    I believe it's now legal in the States (up to a certain wormwood concentration!)

  13. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    That looks like a cool place

  14. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I got a translation of the transit warning from your blog post. It's not quite as it looks. :) Seems that it's actually about priority seating, and cell phone power causing problems with pacemakers. But I was also told about the social issue of not using a cell on the train. Just for manners.

  15. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Yeah, everyone on the train texts (there is cell access underground) but talking = big no!

  16. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It was so homey. The regulars were excited to see new faces! If it were closer to Tokyo, we'd make it our new hangout!

  17. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It was so homey. The regulars were excited to see new faces! If it were closer to Tokyo, we'd make it our new hangout!

  18. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    ooh.. ur friends have groovy contacts!wat fun

  19. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    absinthe is sooooo strong!!! XP do you like it? :o

  20. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    Yeah! I can never join in on the cool contacts fun because I have terrible eyesight… and special contacts can cause a lot of eye irritation ><

  21. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    I lovvvvvvvvvvve it!

  22. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I remember walking around Berlin and having random convenience store shelves pop out at me… although I didn't drink a lot of absinthe.. (Maybe I'm just crazy) XD

  23. Posted October 26, 2009 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    If you aren't crazy, absinthe will make you so! ;)

  24. Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I love Absinthe! ♥ I use to make my own :)

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      Really?? How did you make it? Did it have the wormwood in it?

  25. Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I wanna try absinthe xD Grawrg you get to go to the coolest places

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      I have a bunch of places on my list to visit for my Tokyo trip in Dec…

  26. Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Hmmmm. I’d like to try Absinthe.

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      I believe it’s now legal in the States (up to a certain wormwood concentration!)

  27. Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I forgot to mention — the bar patrons were all regulars and they were so cute to us! They shook our hands and hoped that we’d return. It seems like a small group of fiends gathers here.

  28. Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    That looks like a cool place

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      It was so homey. The regulars were excited to see new faces! If it were closer to Tokyo, we’d make it our new hangout!

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      It was so homey. The regulars were excited to see new faces! If it were closer to Tokyo, we’d make it our new hangout!

  29. Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    I got a translation of the transit warning from your blog post. It’s not quite as it looks. :) Seems that it’s actually about priority seating, and cell phone power causing problems with pacemakers. But I was also told about the social issue of not using a cell on the train. Just for manners.

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, everyone on the train texts (there is cell access underground) but talking = big no!

  30. Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    ooh.. ur friends have groovy contacts!wat fun

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      Yeah! I can never join in on the cool contacts fun because I have terrible eyesight… and special contacts can cause a lot of eye irritation ><

  31. Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    absinthe is sooooo strong!!! XP do you like it? :o

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

      I lovvvvvvvvvvve it!

  32. Posted October 26, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    I remember walking around Berlin and having random convenience store shelves pop out at me… although I didn’t drink a lot of absinthe.. (Maybe I’m just crazy) XD

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      If you aren’t crazy, absinthe will make you so! ;)

  33. Posted October 26, 2009 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    I haven't had absinthe, but I am interested in trying it. I'll have to find a place around here that sells it.

    The poster is pretty funny! The guy's face is a little scary looking, too.

  34. Posted October 26, 2009 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    He seems so… naughty! Hee hee.
    I had plum wine the other other day and thought of you! xo

  35. Posted October 26, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    It's green, so I believe it is tasty.

  36. Posted October 26, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    It's a drink for dreamers. ;)
    There's a lovely absinthe bar in LA… I shall take you there, hopefully soon! (Still waiting on LA tour confirmation…) http://www.carmenyuen.com/blog/blogpics/081205_

  37. Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    that's pretty amazing! a whole bar dedicated to the stuff! XD now have you tried it with the fire and everything or just cold? I've tried both! :{

  38. Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Its legal in the U.S. now. I occasionally still hear people say its not, but the places selling it (including teh interwebs which never lie) say its legal, and the stores which sell seem legit-enough (in other words if I EVER get arrested for it being illegal I'm going to have to revisit those stores and …). Sadly I can't speak much of the effect of absinthe due to the limited quantities I've drunk (a.k.a. I've had to drive at some point). With Devil's Night, Halloween, my birthday, and other holidays coming up though I'll be sure to have some better green fairy tales (hmm… possible Halloween costume…)

    The burning ritual is fun, the intricate spoons are fantastic, even if you wind up with a bottle that you don't like the flavor of try others! You'll be drunk enough to soon not care about the flavor, but I've been lucky and not come across any motor oil brands like La Carmina. I'm seriously considering starting to collect absinthe spoons, they really are works of art.

  39. Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    I've done both! And tried red absinthe too!

  40. Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    The spoons are so beautiful. I love the idea of collecting them.

    I have to do more research so I'm not sure if this is accurate, but I believe in the US, absinthe is legal only if it has a very small amount (or zero) thujones — the substance that causes the hallucinations and floaty feeling. Whereas in places like Czech Republic, absinthe can have over 30 mg of thujones…

  41. Posted October 26, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Ah! “La fée verte”- used to drink it by the bucket load, not the weak variation but the good stuff from Eastern Europe. *Craves*

  42. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t had absinthe, but I am interested in trying it. I’ll have to find a place around here that sells it.

    The poster is pretty funny! The guy’s face is a little scary looking, too.

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      He seems so… naughty! Hee hee.
      I had plum wine the other other day and thought of you! xo

  43. Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    It’s green, so I believe it is tasty.

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

      It’s a drink for dreamers. ;)
      There’s a lovely absinthe bar in LA… I shall take you there, hopefully soon! (Still waiting on LA tour confirmation…) http://www.carmenyuen.com/blog/blogpics/081205_ruin3.jpg

      • Posted October 27, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        Awesome, I shall await that moment! Hoping to move permanently over there soon enough here…

        • Posted October 28, 2009 at 1:28 am | Permalink

          There are good things ahead, I can sense it!

  44. Posted October 26, 2009 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    that’s pretty amazing! a whole bar dedicated to the stuff! XD now have you tried it with the fire and everything or just cold? I’ve tried both! :{

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      I’ve done both! And tried red absinthe too!

  45. Posted October 26, 2009 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Its legal in the U.S. now. I occasionally still hear people say its not, but the places selling it (including teh interwebs which never lie) say its legal, and the stores which sell seem legit-enough (in other words if I EVER get arrested for it being illegal I’m going to have to revisit those stores and …). Sadly I can’t speak much of the effect of absinthe due to the limited quantities I’ve drunk (a.k.a. I’ve had to drive at some point). With Devil’s Night, Halloween, my birthday, and other holidays coming up though I’ll be sure to have some better green fairy tales (hmm… possible Halloween costume…)

    The burning ritual is fun, the intricate spoons are fantastic, even if you wind up with a bottle that you don’t like the flavor of try others! You’ll be drunk enough to soon not care about the flavor, but I’ve been lucky and not come across any motor oil brands like La Carmina. I’m seriously considering starting to collect absinthe spoons, they really are works of art.

    • Posted October 26, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      The spoons are so beautiful. I love the idea of collecting them.

      I have to do more research so I’m not sure if this is accurate, but I believe in the US, absinthe is legal only if it has a very small amount (or zero) thujones — the substance that causes the hallucinations and floaty feeling. Whereas in places like Czech Republic, absinthe can have over 30 mg of thujones…

      • Posted October 27, 2009 at 1:49 am | Permalink

        I think you’re right although I’m not sure what the cut-off numbers are. All the absinthe I remember seeing (again not much) has boasted 0 wormwood/thujones. Which I have to say… thats kind of the reason a lot of people want to drink Absinthe so not the best way to advertise (but might have to). The elusiveness and the mystery of absinthe of course adds to it all, not to mention it high alcohol content.

  46. Posted October 26, 2009 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Ah! “La fée verte”- used to drink it by the bucket load, not the weak variation but the good stuff from Eastern Europe. *Craves*

    • Posted October 27, 2009 at 1:55 am | Permalink

      The vampiric countries make it best, it’s true! There is a Czech brand that has a scorpion in the bottle..

  47. Posted October 26, 2009 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I love the mystique surrounding absinthe .. and the taste is quite bewitching. Sadly, I find its legendary effects entirely ungrounded in reality.

  48. Posted October 26, 2009 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    I think you're right although I'm not sure what the cut-off numbers are. All the absinthe I remember seeing (again not much) has boasted 0 wormwood/thujones. Which I have to say… thats kind of the reason a lot of people want to drink Absinthe so not the best way to advertise (but might have to). The elusiveness and the mystery of absinthe of course adds to it all, not to mention it high alcohol content.

  49. Posted October 26, 2009 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    Absinthe is all about the romantic history behind it. I love the idea of the 'green fairy'. But really, it's pretty gross, IMO.

  50. Posted October 26, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    I've had absenithe … It is very harsh tasting and makes your body feel drunk not your mind ..so weird

  51. Posted October 26, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    The vampiric countries make it best, it's true! There is a Czech brand that has a scorpion in the bottle..

  52. Posted October 26, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    I've felt dreamy and floaty, but no hallucinations… and no ear-cutting!

  53. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I don't drink so my absinthe experience involved doing a presentation on it for organic chem (I'm sucha nerd ^^). Actually it was more about thujone, the chemical in absinthe that supposedly causes the hallucinations. That's never been proven, but thujone does cause convulsions and delirium in large amounts (which is NOT the case for absinthe as previously thought… this may be a reason why it is no longer banned in the U.S.). The most interesting thing I learned was that Vicks Vaporub used to contain a little absinthe.

  54. Posted October 26, 2009 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

    I have yet to try it…

  55. Posted October 27, 2009 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    I love the mystique surrounding absinthe .. and the taste is quite bewitching. Sadly, I find its legendary effects entirely ungrounded in reality.

    • Posted October 27, 2009 at 1:55 am | Permalink

      I’ve felt dreamy and floaty, but no hallucinations… and no ear-cutting!

  56. Posted October 27, 2009 at 1:51 am | Permalink

    Absinthe is all about the romantic history behind it. I love the idea of the ‘green fairy’. But really, it’s pretty gross, IMO.

  57. Posted October 27, 2009 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    I’ve had absenithe … It is very harsh tasting and makes your body feel drunk not your mind ..so weird

  58. Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:15 am | Permalink

    I don’t drink so my absinthe experience involved doing a presentation on it for organic chem (I’m sucha nerd ^^). Actually it was more about thujone, the chemical in absinthe that supposedly causes the hallucinations. That’s never been proven, but thujone does cause convulsions and delirium in large amounts (which is NOT the case for absinthe as previously thought… this may be a reason why it is no longer banned in the U.S.). The most interesting thing I learned was that Vicks Vaporub used to contain a little absinthe.

  59. Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:40 am | Permalink

    I have yet to try it…

  60. Posted October 27, 2009 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    From history students point of view I find it funny that absinthe still carries on the 19th Century stuff. What would be suitably romantic drink to us few teetotal goths then? People always go on about red wine and absinthe.

  61. Posted October 27, 2009 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Absinthe is garbage.

    Vodka, straight up please.

  62. Posted October 27, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Hahah! It seems absinthe has its lovers and haters a-plenty. ;)

  63. Posted October 27, 2009 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I have some teetotal goth friends! ;) They drink orange juice… I think we love dramatic imagery and visuals, hence the romanticism of absinthe/red wine, but the fact is that we're mostly drinking cheap and cheesy Japanese convenience store alcohol :P

  64. Posted October 27, 2009 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    From history students point of view I find it funny that absinthe still carries on the 19th Century stuff. What would be suitably romantic drink to us few teetotal goths then? People always go on about red wine and absinthe.

    • Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

      I have some teetotal goth friends! ;) They drink orange juice… I think we love dramatic imagery and visuals, hence the romanticism of absinthe/red wine, but the fact is that we’re mostly drinking cheap and cheesy Japanese convenience store alcohol :P

  65. Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Absinthe is garbage.

    Vodka, straight up please.

    • Posted October 27, 2009 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Hahah! It seems absinthe has its lovers and haters a-plenty. ;)

  66. Posted October 27, 2009 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    Awesome, I shall await that moment! Hoping to move permanently over there soon enough here…

  67. Posted October 27, 2009 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    There are good things ahead, I can sense it!

  68. Posted October 28, 2009 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    There are good things ahead, I can sense it!

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