Japanese-American Drinking Patterns

  • Harry H. L. Kitano
  • Herb Hatanaka
  • Wai-Tsang Yeung
  • Stanley Sue


There is a common belief that the Japanese, as well as most other Asian groups in the United States, do not drink as much as their American and European counterparts and are therefore relatively immune to problems associated with alcohol. The existence of a strong family system reinforcing a moderate drinking style is cited as one factor behind the low rates of alcohol problems, and a physiological reaction to alcohol, known as the “Oriental flushing reflex,” is thought to be another important variable. Research evidence to validate these and other impressions is scarce, but the observation that Japanese-Americans do not appear in any significant numbers at alcohol treatment programs or that there are so few visible Japanese drunks is often cited as supportive evidence.


Alcohol Consumption Heavy Drinker Church Attendance Drinking Pattern Moderate Drinker 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Cameron, T. Alcohol and alcohol problems: Public opinion in California, 1974–1980. Berkeley: University of California School of Public Health, February (unpublished final draft), 1981.Google Scholar
  2. Chafetz, M. E. Consumption of alcohol in the Far and Middle East, New England Journal of Medicine, 1964, 271, 297–301.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cohen, S. The Oriental syndrome. Drug Abuse and Alcoholism Newsletter, 1979, 8, (10).Google Scholar
  4. Chu, I., Fertig, M., Sumii, S., & Yefsky, G. A comparative study of alcohol drinking practices among Chinese and Japanese in Los Angeles. Unpublished Master’s Thesis, University of California, Los Angeles, 1978.Google Scholar
  5. Erwing, J. A., Rouse, B. A., & Pelizzari, E. D. Alcohol sensitivity and ethnic background. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1974, 131, 206.Google Scholar
  6. Goodwin, D. W. Protective factors in alcoholism. Drug and Alcohol Dependency, Lausanne, 1979, 4, 99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Hanna, J. M. Ethnic groups, human variation, and alcohol use. In Cross-culturual approaches to the study of alcohol. Paris: Mouton, 1976.Google Scholar
  8. Hayashi, S. Alcoholism and marriage: Family court divorce conciliation. Japanese Journal Studies on Alcohol, 1978, 13. Hokubei Mainichi, January 17, 1981, p.1.Google Scholar
  9. Kawakami, I. Doctors believe they know why Japanese are world’s worst drunks, glowing beacon. Kashu Mainichi, June 8, English section, 1982, 1.Google Scholar
  10. Kitano, H. H. Mental health in the Japanese-American community. In E. Jones & S. Korchin (Eds.), Minority mental health. New York: Praeger, 1982, 149–164.Google Scholar
  11. Kitano, H. H. Japanese-Americans: The evolution of a subculture, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1976.Google Scholar
  12. Kotani, R. AJA’s and alcohol abuse. In The Hawaii Herald, Vol. 3, #13, #14, July 2, pp. 4, July 16, pp. 7, 1982.Google Scholar
  13. Ohashi, K., & Nishimura, H. Alcoholic problem [sic] in Japan. Paper presented at the 9th World Congress of Sociology, Upsala University, Sweden, August 17, 1978.Google Scholar
  14. Okuma, S. Traditions of the Japanese-American Sansei in modern times (unpublished term paper). Sociology 124, University of California, Los Angeles, 1980.Google Scholar
  15. Roche Report: Frontiers of Psychiatry, Alcoholism in Japan: How caring communities contribute to recovery. May 1, 1982, 11.Google Scholar
  16. Sargent, M. Alcoholism as a social problem. University of Queensland Press, Australia, 1973.Google Scholar
  17. Seto, A. et al. Biochemical correlates of ethanol-induced flushing in Orientals. Japanese Journal of Studies of Alcohol, 1978, 39, 1.Google Scholar
  18. Shibata, Y., Masuda, T., & Aoki, I. An Investigation of women alcoholic inpatients. Japanese Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1978, 13, 123–134.Google Scholar
  19. Sue, S., Zane, N., & Ito, J. Reported alcohol drinking patterns among Asian and Caucasian Americans. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 1979, 10, 41–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Wolff, P. H. Vasomotor sensitivity to alcohol in diverse Mongoloid populations. American Journal of Human Genetics, 1973, 25, 193.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Wynder, E., & Hirayama, T. Comparative epidemiology of cancers of the United States and Japan. Preventive Medicine, 1977, 6, 567.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Zeiner, A., & Pareses, A. Differential biological pensitivity to ethanol as a predictor of alcohol abuse. D. Smith (Ed.), Multi-cultural view of drug abuse, Cambridge, MA: Schenkman Publishing Co., 1978, 591–599.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry H. L. Kitano
    • 1
  • Herb Hatanaka
    • 2
  • Wai-Tsang Yeung
    • 3
  • Stanley Sue
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Social WelfareUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Special Service for GroupsLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.School of Social WorkUniversity of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations