Alternative beer gardens

When the department store rooftop doesn't cut it any more...

Alternative beer gardens


Each summer, Tokyo's hard-working office drones revive a tradition of heading outdoors and washing their sorrows away with cheap food and free-flowing suds. But there's more to beer gardens than knocking back jugs of Super Dry on a department store rooftop while picking through smorgasbords that seem to consist of nothing but French fries and gristle. Whether it's the location, the quality of the food and drink on offer, or just the sense of being a bit different, these are some of Tokyo's best alternative beer gardens.

Location, location | The gourmet option | A break from the norm

Location, location

If you're going to splurge on a beer garden, they don't come any better than this. Sekirei sits on the lawns of the Meiji Kinenkan, sections of which date back to the 19th century. The buyou traditional dance performances that used to take here place every evening have been cancelled this year, but it's still a glorious setting. Not a cheap one, mind you: beer starts at ¥820, and most of the food costs upwards of ¥1,050, with additional seating and service charges. Daily, 5-10.30pm. Until Aug 31. Venue details

Beer Mount
To say that Mt. Takao's beer garden gets crowded at the weekend would be a gross understatement. If you can forgive the crush of bodies, though, the view's actually rather nice. The price (¥3,300 for men, ¥3,000 for women) includes all food and drink. Mon-Fri, 3.30-6pm; Sat-Sun and nat. hols, 2-9pm (Aug, 1-9pm). July 1-Oct 2. Venue details

Yebisu Bar The Garden
Because nothing beats having a rowdy outdoor drinking session right in the seat of Japanese political power. The outdoor deck at Yebisu Bar is surrounded by government agency office blocks, and it's absolutely heaving most nights. A glass of the eponymous brew goes for ¥580, but most people get the ¥2,500 all-you-can-drink deal and order up a dinky plastic keg that dispenses beer right at the table. Weekdays only, 5-11pm. Until late Sept. Venue details

There's nothing especially novel about the food or libations on offer here – it's more about the setting. Seiyoken has been staking out its spot in Ueno Park since the 1870s, and the rooftop beer garden enjoys panoramic views of the area. Best visited early in the evening, when it's still actually light enough to see anything. Beers cost ¥700, and there's a ¥2,400 all-you-can-drink deal. Daily, 5-9pm (July/Aug, 4-9pm). Until Sept 25. Venue details

Restaurant Luke
Short of heading out to Mt. Takao (see above), you won't find a higher beer garden in Tokyo. Restaurant Luke's open-air terrace towers 221 metres above sea level, and enjoys sweeping views of the city. The ¥4,500 'beer terrace course' includes an amuse-bouche, starter, pasta, entre and dessert, and drinks must be ordered separately (beers ¥700). Lofty perches come with lofty prices, you know. Mon-Fri, 6-10pm. Until Sept 30. Venue details

Location, location | The gourmet option | A break from the norm

By James Hadfield
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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