A few weeks ago the Asahi Shimbun printed a letter from a 59-year-old man who complained about a TV commercial for Kirin's Tanrei, one of those beerlike beverages known as happoshu. In the spot, world-famous alpinist Ken Noguchi is seen climbing a mountain, the Gipsy Kings howling away on the soundtrack. At the end of the commercial he's drinking Tanrei with his fellow climbers, obviously in celebration of reaching the summit, and the letter writer wondered if it was really such a good idea to get a buzz on before descending.

It's not the first complaint I've read about the cavalier way alcohol is advertised. Usually, it has to do with making liquor look like something other than liquor. Sweet drinks like umeshu (plum wine) and fruit-flavored chuhai are pitched at young impressionable women, and recently Asahi came out with a tomato cocktail that is advertised as if it were sparkling tomato juice.

But it's probably safe to say that people who buy these drinks know exactly what they're getting, and anyone stupid enough to climb down a mountain in a state of inebriation can't blame anyone but themselves if something bad happens as a result.