What is/are decent "cheap" beers from the "7-11's" or grocery store?
I just drink PBR in US.
I do not know Japanese, but wife does.
I do not mind spending extra on a vacation, but family insist on buying and I feel guilty because I drink a lot. over two weeks - don't suggest drinking less!
Most of the major Japanese beers (Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo...) are about 217yen for a 350ml can (about 12oz) at the convenience store. You only save a couple yen when you buy a 6-pack. Imports, Ebisu and the occasional Japanese specialty beer are more expensive. There are also numerous happoshus (beer-like beverage) that are considerably cheaper than real beer. Not sure if you want to drink them or not, I personally steer clear of them. Happoshu usually runs about 140yen per can and there are many varieties.
If you are looking for good happoshu, my friend who loves beer swears by Kinmugi, by Suntory. It is in a blue can with gold writing and kanji: 金麦
When I used to work at Takashimaya in the sake department we had some customers who would buy one can of real beer and two cans of happoshu. They said they would drink one can of the real beer to start and then switch over to happoshu.
re: lost squirrel
The beer, the happoshu are different due to the tax system of Malts contents.
In fact, the tax on alcohol does not affect the "restaurant" or "bar" that do no need to buy a limited licence to distribute alcohol. So you can have a beer very easily. There is some Kirin-Suntory beer new product to replace Malt and seems to be the cheaper one. Never tried it. My choices are the "dry" or "super dry".
I agree with the Asahi or Kirin or Sapporo at convenience store recommendation. Some hotels have vending machines that sell those brands in tall boy cans for about 300 yen and that's about what you'll pay at retail.
If you drink PBR at home then you won't mind drinking happoshu, they even have some that says strong on the label that weighs in at 7 or 8 percent alcohol. Like Lost Squirrel says the chu hi's are pretty cheap and there are a lot of interesting ones out there.