Nomihodai translates to “all you can drink,” and yes, that means alcohol. For somewhere between 1000 to 2500 yen you get all the beer, wine, shochu or well drinks you can handle for a period of anywhere from one to three hours. Most of us Westerners can put away enough drinks in that amount of time to make it well worth the money. Not every bar or izakaya has a nomihodai plan, though. Some will advertise it outside the bar, others you simply have to know about. To be sure, it never hurts to ask your bartender. “Nomihodai arimsau ka?” (Do you have all you can drink?)
The most important place you find nomihodai is at the karaoke parlours. Always take advantage of this. It only cost you an extra 100 to 300 yen per person per hour, sometimes less on the overnight rentals. An attendant will bring pitcher upon pitcher of beer and glasses of well drinks all at your beck and call. You are certain to get your money’s worth, and you’re expected to drink something at karaoke parlours anyway. And really, what goes better with karaoke than alcohol?