St. Patrick's Day in Nagoya

Mark Guthrie gets the craic on St. Patricks Day

They say everyone is a little bit Irish on St Patrick’s Day. T’be sure, t’be sure. Gosh n’ begorrah. Bejaysus. Yes, everyone’s a wee bit Irish on St Patrick’s Day, aren’t they?

Well, NAGMAG’s not. It’s true, not even a little bit. Never on a March 17th have we had a desire for The Black Stuff, felt the need to carry a shillelagh, kissed a blarney stone, had difficulties pronouncing our ‘th’s, had someone come after our lucky charms, felt reverential to the pope or put on an orange t-shirt and marched down a street just to really piss off the neighbors. No, we’re British through and through. We were born in Britain, our parents are British, their parents are British and their parents before them, all British…well, apart from the one from Cork, but that’s neither here nor there as far as we’re concerned. If we aren’t eligible to play for the national football team, then that’s that.

But not everyone feels the same. On March 17th suddenly all sorts of people are proudly claiming Irish ancestry, no matter how dubious the evidence. ‘My great-great-great uncle came from Ireland,’ they to-be-sure. ‘I once saw Riverdance on TV in an Irish pub,’ they bejaysus. ‘My mother drank Guinness all through her pregnancy,’ they t’irty-t’ree-and-a-t’ird. And here in Nagoya, all sorts of folk, people who couldn’t differentiate between the Emerald Isle and Iceland, will be getting a touch of the Leprechauns.

The first place they’ll be feeling it is at the Osu Kannon St Patrick’s Day Festival from lunchtime on Saturday the 16th. Oh, yes, even here, some six-thousand miles from where the pipes, the pipes are calling, there’s a parade. Of course it wouldn’t be Paddy’s day without a parade and, well, it’s not like the Japanese to turn down an excuse to get quadraspazzed and pass out in the streets.

Speaking of which. As you God fearin’ folk know, St Patrick’s Day falls slap bang in the middle of Lent. Lent is of course a time when, as a form of penitence, many give up the things they love most. And what do the Irish like more than anything in the world? Yes, that’s right: The Drink. Now surely St Patrick didn’t think this through. Now, were someone to offer NAGMAG a day to celebrate our life, we’d put in some serious consideration as to what’s going on at the time. Are there other events going on that may take the shine from our celebrations? Is there a football tournament? Is it a public holiday? Or, most importantly, is it during a period when most of our followers are abstaining from their preferential celebratory outlet?

“So, St Patrick, on which day would you like the Irish to celebrate your life?”
“Well Lord, any day is good for me, to be sure.”
“C’mon Patrick, pick a day will you?”
“Oh, I don’t know Lord, to pick a day at random, what about March 17th?”
“Are you sure Paddy?”
“Aye, one date is as good as any, bejaysus…”

But St Patrick was a crafty bugger. Upon realizing his mistake, he decreed that on his day, Lent didn’t matter anymore. As a gift to the gods of novelty shamrock hats, for one day and one day only, you could forget your penitence, you could abstain from abstention. As such, as an oasis in the barren desert of Lent, St Patrick’s Day became a day of drinking abandon in Ireland. Much like any other day ending in a ‘y’.

Unfortunately, you won’t find The Black Stuff in any conbini (unless you’ve stumbled across the deliciously Japanese Ebisu Black), so you’ll have to rely on Asahi, chu-hi and the finest whiskey Suntory can offer to get the old legs dancing a jig, but whether in glorious sunshine or weather wetter than the gents’ bog in a Galway pub, Nagoya’s very own Irish community will guarantee a good time for all.

Following the parade, with faces painted and full to the gills on whiskey, you can head to any one of the many Irish bars around town. You can go to Coopers on Sakura-dori, where you can drown yourself in their legendary six-pint glass of Guinness, and just round the corner, Peat Irish Tavern (behind the Meieki Hub) will be having special offers in addition to a special St Patrick’s day Jameson’s.

Despite the fact that Ireland split from the Commonwealth in 1949, the newest Commonwealth pub, Coat of Arms, will have the musical stylings of local Irish troubadour Brian Cullen as well as many a food and drink offer.

Like any good American sports bar, Shooters in Fushimi also lays claim to Irish background, having probably once shown a Notre Dame game or perhaps having a picture of Larry Bird on their wall or something. As such, and just like every year, they will be full to the rafters of fun loving faux-Paddies guzzling pints of porter, green lager, and the infamous Irish Car Bomb, a heady, fast-curdling mix of whiskey, Baileys and Guinness.

Even Nagoya’s British pubs, OXO and Hub, will be putting aside the historical differences of The Troubles, and offer discounts on Guinness at twenty and ten percent respectively.

But wherever you choose to go, you can be assured that the diddly-dee music will be aplenty, and the booze will flow steadily until the following day, St Hangover’s Day, raises its head. At that time many a person unused to The Black Stuff will awake with two important questions on their mind: ‘What the hell happened last night? And why is my feces the colour and consistency of tarmac?’ Both of those questions can be answered in two words. The Drink.

Sláinte!

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