I remember one summer before I'd ever come to Japan, before I even turned twenty-one, buying those oversized cans of Japanese beer you sometimes see in the important section of US liquor stores. My housemate and I just couldn't fathom what the hell was up with a can of beer that approached 2 liters. We poured the thing out into two glasses between the two of us and pondered the mystery. Now as an ex-pat with a few years under my belt I can confidently answer that the reason it's so big is because it's intended to be poured out among friends at a party.
I have always viewed the whole "look at all the wacky weird shit" in Japan mentality a little bit askew, because some people form these whole bullshit cultural theories off of the weird commercials on TV. Base, not superstructure people! Please. Where are your liberal arts educations anyway?
That being said, here's a picture of the 135 ml beer I'm drinking as I write this. Isn't it weird?
Why a beer so ridiculously small? I dunno, I figure the best part of beer is the first gulp. For the record, Kirin Ichiban Shibori is the best mass produced Japanese domestic, and just these few gulps have renewed my faith. =Those Japanese sure do like to make things small and convenient!=
That's the superstructure answer. The base answer is that my housemates went to a newly opened izakaya (Japanese style bar) in town, and they all got these micro-can beers as promotional take-home gifts. Funny, idn't it.