When the Japanese think of the summertime, they also think ‘the season of beer’ has come once again! During the year, beer is a very popular drink in Japan and is consumed mostly at Izakayas with friends, family and colleagues and the greatest business deals are made while consuming a nice glass of beer. However, in the summer months, the Japanese take their love for beer to a higher level… literally! The famous, often rooftop, beer gardens pop up by the bushes and are enjoyed by all Japanese locals and tourists.
Imagine, a perfectly mild summer temperature night with a picture-perfect sky full of beautiful stars accompanied by the view of the Japanese skyline, while holding an ice cold beer and a small snack which blend perfectly with the hop taste of the beer. You are perfectly zen and are enjoying the company of many Japanese business men and women. If I just sketched the ideal way for you to spend your evening in Tokyo, I suggest you visit one of Tokyo’s famous summer Beer gardens!
What are Japanese Beer Gardens and what makes them so special
Beer gardens originated from Germany, Europe, where people can drink beer and enjoy finger food in an outdoor area while being surrounded by friends and family. The German beer gardens became so popular, many countries copied this idea of outdoor beer gardens and many countries all around the world have beer gardens. Japan, of course, is one of these as well.
But what makes Japanese Beer gardens special from all the other beer gardens?
This is because Japanese Beer Gardens are often enjoyed at higher grounds, instead of on the ground at a park. There are of course, some amazing beer gardens in Tokyo which are located at a park, for example the “Forest Beer Garden” at Meiji Jingu which are often very large areas creating the atmosphere of being at a beer festival, but most beer gardens are located on top of commercial buildings, such as department stores, restaurants or hotels.
This provides a wonderful nighttime view of the Tokyo Skyline, or watching the sun set and at the same time enjoying the mild summer breeze while being able to enjoy the taste and charm of the Japanese Beer and the local traditions. (Note: Because beer gardens are open air facilities, they might be closed on rainy days).
Japanese Beers- Which is your favorite?
Japanese beer has been made since the 19th century and is known throughout the world for their quality and great taste. The Japanese beer branch has four main players being Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory, dominating the local market.
In this paragraph I will try to give an overview of the 4 Japanese main brands, so next time you will ask for a beer, you will know which one to choose according to your preference.
Asahi is Japan’s most popular beer brand and is known all over the world. The most famous product of Asahi is their Super Dry beer, with a light, crisp bitter taste and an extremely sharp aftertaste.
The Kirin beers are one of the oldest beers in Japan and is most famous for their nice grain aroma’s in their beer with a crisp taste. The Ichiban Shibori beer of Kirin is one of the more distinctive beers, with a mild, pure and smooth tasting beer, which is perfect for those not liking the strong flavored beer taste.
Sapporo beer, although one of the most expensive beer brands in Japan, is made from only imported German ingredients. This results in quality beers with deep and great flavours and are closest to the beers famous all over the world, making it a safe choice for those who do not like to experiment with flavors.
Suntory is probably the least popular among tourists, but is well known for its quality and rich taste among the Japanese population. The Premium Malt has won multiple gold medals in European competitions and with the low alcoholic levels and easy to drink characteristic this drink is easily one of the most popular in Japan. Perfect for those, knowing they will not stop after just one beer.
However, mentioned above are the 4 most popular Japanese beer brands. In addition to these beer companies in Japan are spread nationwide, with each area having their own complementary beer flavors. One of the best experience you will have while enjoying beer gardens all over Japan is tasting the local specialties.
Note: For the Non-alcoholic tourists: Non-alcoholic beers are also served for those who can’t drink alcohol.
Besides a cold pint of beer, most people also enjoy small finger food which accompanies the cold beer perfectly.
Most famous appetizer to go with a cold beer in Japan is Edamame. Edamame beans are immature soy beens which are served while still in the pod. They are boiled and steamed before served. The salty taste of these beans go perfectly with the beer, stimulating your thirst. Other famous Beer Garden foods include Yakitori (chicken skewers) and Kushikatsu (deep fried kebabs). These dishes are also a little on the salty side, so they stimulate your thirst, making your beer taste even better!
Selection of beer gardens in Tokyo
Below you will find a selection of famous beer gardens in Tokyo. These beer gardens are selected on their location, so wherever you are in Tokyo, you will always find a beer garden closeby. However, these beer gardens are definitely not the only ones around Tokyo. Take a stroll around your neighbourhood and you might find a lovely cozy beer garden to enjoy alongside the locals.
Forest Beer Garden – Meiji Jingu
This beer garden is probably one of the biggest in Tokyo with a capacity of 1000 people. The beer garden is located in the Meiji Shrine outer grounds are is open from 5pm tot 10 pm on weekdays and from noon to 10pm on the weekends. The beer garden is accessible from summer time till September 27th. The beer starts from a price of 550 yen and there is a wide selection of food available. All you can drink or eat options are available.
Eki Beer – Asakusa
Asakusa is a very popular spot for tourists, so a beer garden in this area is definitely a must to be included in this list. Right on the Sumida River on the rooftop of the Ekimise building lies the Eki Bar. The Eki bar, with a capacity of 160, has a great view of the Sky Tree which is lit at night and they are open for both lunch and dinner. The beer which is served is the Asahi beer and the beer garden is open until September 30.
Tower Records Skygarden – Shibuya
Shibuya’s lively environment asks for a lively Skygarden. The famous CD-shop Tower Records opens its sky garden on the roof from spring until autumn and is one of the longest running skygardens in this list. With a extended selection of food and drinks, this rooftop is a hit with almost everyone which pays a visit. And with the all you can eat and drink option available of 3500 yen this is a great place to enjoy dinner as well for the tourist on a budget while enjoying the beer garden atmosphere.
Omohara Beer Garden – Harajuku
Harajuku with its famous Takeshita Dori is one of the most popular spots in Tokyo to visit by foreigners. Therefore, this area makes a great place to visit a beer garden. At the 6th level of Tokyo Plaza Omotesando lies the Omohara Beer Garden. This place doesn’t offer all you can eat of drink options, but is a perfect place for those wanting to stay for only a few beers and enjoy the atmosphere for a limited amount of time. (Open from June 16th till September 10th)
Roppongi Beer Garden – Roppongi
Roppongi is the nightlife district in Japan. Although not the safest place to hang around while traveling alone, this area is great to discover together with friends. The large beer garden in Roppongi provides a great view over the city and is open from spring till September 22. The best part of this beer garden is the fact it is equipped with tents, and while most beer gardens close during bad weather this beer garden is open almost every day to enjoy a nice ice cold beer.
Highball Garden and Rooftop Garden Genghis Khan – Tokyo Tower
The most famous landmark of Tokyo, the Tokyo tower, has not just ONE, but TWO beer gardens for you to enjoy. For those not liking heights, Tokyo Tower offers a beer garden at the foot of the Tokyo tower, which specializes in Highball drinks (a mix of 1 spirit mixed with non-alcoholic drinks). For the adventure seekers, the rooftop garden offers magnificent views over the Tokyo metropolitan.
Opening times Tokyo Tower Highball Garden - 12/4/2017 to 1/10/2017