A tale of alcohol, vengeance, and reconciliation – all for less than 1,000 yen!

Welcome back to Japan’s Best Home Senbero. For the uninitiated, senbero is a Japanese term formed by mashing together senen (“1,000 yen”) and berobero (“drunk”). In other words, it’s a drinking session that costs 1,000 yen (US$6.70) or less, and, as per Japanese drinking culture tradition, should also include some sort of snacks.

The senbero concept initially formed in Japanese pubs, but as long as you keep the senbero spirit in your heart, you can have a senbro session anywhere. Our ace reporter Mr. Sato has made it his mission to find Japan’s best home senbero combinations, sourcing his food and drinks from supermarkets and convenience stores. So when his travels took him to Gifu Prefecture, he too advantage of the chance to put together a senbero package from supermarket Valor.

With 240 branches, Valor isn’t a tiny chain. However, they’re mainly located in the Chubu and Kansai regions of central Japan, with no branches in the Tokyo area. This rare opportunity ignited Mr. Sato’s senbro passions, and so he ventured inside.

As a full-fledged supermarket, Valor stocks all of the major brands of groceries. Even still, Mr. Sato was able to include some sort of local flavor by focusing on Valor-brand items as well as foodstuffs representative of Gifu’s Hida/Takaama region.

When he emerged from the store, he’d purchased:

● Kotobukiya Senbei Rice Cracker Assortment (made in Hida) (741 yen)

● Valor Select Whiskey Highball (158 yen)

● Valor Select Takayama Soy Sauce-base Ramen Broth (58 yen)

Earth Seiyaku Yutaka bath salts (40 yen)

Ordinarily, blowing over 70 percent of your budget on a single food item is a recipe for senbero failure, but thanks to Valor’s very wallet-friendly canned cocktail selection, Mr. Sato able to score an extra-tall 500-mililiter (16.9-ounce) highball.

In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Sato’s senbero set came to 997 yen, but before tax. That makes it 1,079 yen with tax, but he still asserts that this counts as a senbero, and while he could have brought the total price down a bit by not buying the bath salts, those turned out to be a critical part of the package, as he’d learn a little later.

Since this is Japan’s Best Home Senbero, Mr. Sato waited until he was back in Tokyo to have his session, which took place at SoraNews24 headquarters.

Joining him was fellow reporter Masanuki Sunakoma. Masanuki periodically plays a supporting role in Mr. Sato’s senbero experiments, so much so that Mr. Sato has come to think of him as his little senbero brother.

Usually Masanuki is scheduled to come in part-way through the session, but on this day Mr. Sato wanted him there right from the start.

Mr. Sato:We’re getting along so great, right, Masanuki?”

Mr. Sato:Look, Masanuki! Your big brother brought all this senbero stuff back from Gifu!”
Masanuki:Wow, you’re so cool, Big Bro!”

Mr. Sato: ”Well, this isn’t your first senbero, so you know what to do!”

Masanuki: ”I…I think I do…

Masanuki: ”We’re starting off with the rice crackers! …did I get that right?”

Mr. Sato: ”What? No! We’re not starting off with the rice crackers, you ditz!”

Masanuki: ”W- we’re not?”

Mr. Sato: ”No, we’re not! We’re starting with this! The bath salts! Obviously! That’s the thing that sets this senbero session apart!”

Mr. Sato: ”Why do you think I wanted you here from the start? It’s so you can boil the water and make me a foot bath!

So it was off to the office hot plate…

…and to the office kettle…

…to get Mr. Sato’s foot bath ready, since one pot alone wasn’t going to be enough to fill up a foot bath.

But while the water was boiling, Masanuki was steaming.

Forcing himself to hide what he was plotting, though, Masanuki put on a less devious face as he returned with the hot water.

Masanuki: ”Okay Big Bro, filling it up!”

Mr. Sato: ”Good, good. Water seems like it’s just right.”

Mr. Sato: ”Well, whacha waitin’ for? Don’t just stand there like a statue – put the bath salt in aleady!”

Masanuki: ”Oh you mean this?”

Masanuki: ”Well, if you’re in such a hurry, I guess I shouldn’t keep you waiting, so…”

Masanuki: ”HERE YA GO!”


Masanuki hurled the bath salt into the washbasin with all his might, soaking his senbero big brother.

Still, the bath salt was now in the water, and so it was time for Mr. Sato’s foot bath to begin, as soon as he got his socks off, something that was easier said than done because of how tight the pair he was wearing that day was.

Mr. Sato: ”Geez, I can’t get these things off.”

Masanuki: ”Ya know, I went to all the trouble of heating the water, and now you’re just putzing around while it gets cold.”

Mr. Sato: ”What? No I’m gonna use it right now.”

Masanuki: ”Here, let me help you in.”

Mr. Sato: ”Wait, wha- no!”

Masanuki: ”Get. In.”

Mr. Sato: ”Agh it’s hot! Hot!”

Masanuki: ”Just like you asked for!”

After enough time had passed to satisfy Masanuki’s urge for vengeance, he unhanded his senbero big brother.

Calling a truce, Mr. Sato was finally ready to use his footbath like he’d originally intended…

…and he was immediately in paradise.

But while his feet were toasty warm, the atmosphere in the room was still frosty, so Mr. Sato decided to offer the proverbial olive branch by extending an invite to Masanuki to join his feet in the green water.

Instantly, their bond was mended, and they forgot all the petty squabbling/attempted murder that had taken place before this moment of shared bliss.

Letting go of their anger also gave them back the necessary mental capacity to remember that, oh yeah, they’re were supposed to be having a senbero session.

Mr. Sato swiftly validated Masanuki’s initial instincts, as they did indeed start with the senbei.

This is also where the ramen broth came into play. You might have noticed that Mr. Sato didn’t buy any ramen noodles, and that’s because his plan was to use the ramen broth as a dipping sauce for the rice crackers.

We should explain that this is, in no way, how senbei are actually meant to be eaten. It’s definitely not the sort of thing you should do if someone serves you senbei as refreshments when you visit their home, and even if you bought the rice crackers yourself, dipping them in ramen broth like this is likely to get you labeled as a culinary heretic by most people in Japan.

Just between you and us, though, Mr. Sato and Masanuki agreed that this was a delicious combination, while also pointing out that the senbei still would have probably tasted even better eaten as-is, without the broth.

Splurging on the senbei had left Mr. Sato with space in the budget for only the one drink. In and of itself, that wasn’t a major problem since despite the bero part of the name, the point of a senbero isn’t to get hammered, just comfortably buzzed, and with 500 milliliters of highball, they could have shared it.

However, while Mr. Sato and Masanuki had patched things up enough to become share-a-footbath-together-close friends, they’re not really drink-from-the-same-can close.

They could have solved this problem by grabbing a glass from the cupboard and pouring a portion from the can into it for Masanuki. Unfortunately, the cupboard is out of arm’s reach from where they’d set up the footbath, and the water felt so good that neither one of them wanted to get out in order to get a glass. “Why didn’t they just ask someone else to get the glass for them?”, you might be asking, but the rest of us were busy doing work that didn’t involve fighting, drinking, and relaxing, so they were out of luck.

But they had snacks, and they had each other, so even if only Mr. Sato technically completed the senbero session, that was enough.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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