Best beer gardens in Tokyo
When the Tokyo summer hits it can seem beer gardens are everywhere, most of them packed and far from relaxing. So, how to choose where to sip your sunshine suds away from the suited masses braying for "just one more" as they stumble toward the restrooms?
From mountaintop to rooftop and with plenty in between, here are five of the city’s best that stand out from the rest by a mile.
Tokyo Bay Noryosen
This floating party ship may not be a beer garden in the strictest sense, but the Tokyo Bay Noryosen is definitely one of the more romantic venues on offer.
The boat departs twice nightly from Takeshiba Passenger Terminal for a two-hour cruise around the bay, taking in stunning views of the Odaiba skyline and the lights of Rainbow Bridge.
The menu includes casual Japanese favorites like okonomiyaki and sushi, plus heartier offerings like steak and spareribs.
In true summer festival style, on-board entertainment is provided by the Yukata Dancers, a team of genki beauties who show off their skills in a modern, matsuri-fusion performance.
On weeknights, guests who come dressed in yukata get a ¥1,000 discount.
Prices: A la carte items from ¥200-¥500; all-you-can-drink ¥2,500
Open: July 1 - September 25, departs nightly at 7:15 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Takeshiba Passenger Terminal, 1-16-1 Kaigan, Minato-ku; +81 (0) 3 3437 6119
Hooters Odaiba Beer Garden
And the kitsch award goes to ... the Hooters Odaiba Beer Garden. This new entry into the city’s lineup of summer watering holes aims to take advantage of the lingering media frenzy over the spring opening of the popular chain’s first Japanese outlet.
In addition to the usual Hooters menu of wings, thighs, breasts and jugs of beer, revelers can enjoy cool breezes and stunning views of Tokyo Bay from the open deck. And, of course, all are accompanied by the fabulously gorgeous Hooters Girls themselves.
Prices: A la carte only -- beer (¥680), wings (¥1,300), ribs (¥1,280)
Open: Until August 31, Monday - Friday 4 p.m.-10:30 p.m., Saturday - Sunday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Hotel Grand Pacific Le Daiba, 2-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku; +81 (0) 3 5579 6847
Aloha Table Hawaiian Beer Garden
Soak up the atmosphere of an urban tropical night at Aloha Table’s Hawaiian Beer Garden. Located just outside of Yokohama Station -- yes, that's not exactly Tokyo, but it's a quick hop away by train and really worth the trip -- this rooftop getaway offers guests an escape from the hustle and bustle below.
The menu includes sizzling island eats like spicy chicken, pork spare ribs and beef back ribs, plus garlic shrimp, coconut fried chicken and loco moco.
Knock it back with your choice of Kirin, Heineken, draft Guinness or three kinds of Kona beer.
Meanwhile, live music and hula performances keep the night flowing by with the slow, sweet tempo of the islands themselves. Almost.
Prices: Hawaiian BBQ set ¥2,600; for unlimited drinks, add ¥1,900
Open: Until September 25, 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
Yokohama More’s Building,1-3-1 Minami-Saiwai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama; +81 (0) 45 311 1471
If you’re looking for a sky-high dining experience without any pesky mountain climbing, stop by Restaurant Luke. At 200 meters up in the air, the restaurant’s 47th-floor terrace can boast the city’s highest beer garden.
As you’d expect from a swanky French restaurant like Luke, the food is also a cut above the rest. The menu includes an amuse bouche of marinated olives, a vegetable plate, pasta, main course of free-range chicken or seasonal vegetables and dessert.
Such elegant surroundings come with prices to match, but if you’re looking to impress that special someone this summer, these glittering night views are hard to beat.
Prices: Beer Terrace Course ¥4,500; beer and cocktails from ¥700 or all-you-can-drink for ¥2,500
Open: Until September 30, Monday - Friday 6 p.m.-10 p.m., Saturday - Sunday 5 p.m.-10 p.m.
8-1 Akashicho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. +81 (0) 3 3248 0211
Takao-san Beer Mount
If a 599-meter climb followed up with a cooling ale sounds like the perfect day, then Mount Takao has the beer garden for you. Accessible on foot -- or by cable car, for those less athletically inclined -- the mountaintop restaurant offers a gourmet buffet-style meal of Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Western favorites plus plenty of Asahi and Kirin beer.
While the mountain setting offers a view that’s tough to beat, if you book on the right night it could also include a glimpse of one of the many west-Tokyo summer fireworks festivals.
This year, a portion of all proceeds will be donated to help the victims of the March 11 disasters.
Prices: Two hours unlimited food and drink; men ¥3,300, women ¥3,000
Open: July 1 - October 2, Monday - Friday 3:30 p.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday - Sunday 2 p.m. - 9 p.m.
2205 Takaomachi, Hachioji-shi; +81 (0) 42 665 9943