One of the stereotypes that other people have of Kochi locals is that they drink a lot of alcohol. Actually, national statistics show that Kochi is second per capita in the consumption of beer, and takes 3rd place for the number of liquor stores per 100 thousand population. A unique culture of alcohol has developed in Kochi, most uniquely manifested by the custom of “Henpai”.
‘Henpai’ is when you are offered a cup of sake, drink it quickly, refill the cup and return it to the person who originally offered you the drink. In other prefectures, there is a similar custom called Kenpai where a cup of sake is given to higher ranking people as a sign of respect at a banquet.
However, in Kochi, cups of sake are passed back and forward between people, even from higher ranking people to lower ranking people. Once you receive a cup, you are expected to drink it in one gulp! People from other prefectures are surprised to see Kochi’s lively banquets where everyone moves around the room to do ‘henpai’ with all in attendance.
The atmosphere of a Kochi banquet represents the character of Kochi people –we like our alcohol, we like to talk, and we like people.
Taken from vol.24 PDF