Where to watch the winter games

Get an eyeful of the Olympics from the best seat in the bar

Where to watch the winter games

Legends Sports Bar and Grill

Anybody with a television set may have noticed that once every two years, Tokyo (or at least its media) comes down with an epidemic of Olympic fever. As the summer and winter games get under way, news and variety programmes are dominated by updates on the performances of the nation's athletes, and a new batch of celebrities is born.

This year's highlights so far have included Aiko Uemura failing to win a medal again in the women's freestyle moguls and snowboarder Kazuhiro Kokubo creating a media uproar and getting banned from the opening ceremony by having his shirt un-tucked. Great hopes for Japan include women's figure skater Mao Asada and the women's curling team. Both are expected to win medals, and bars around Tokyo will likely fill with punters cheering on their countrymen.

As the Winter Olympics are broadcast on network television –and tend to dominate the schedules on most channels – almost any izakaya or small restaurant will provide a perfect place to watch the games, but for those wanting larger gatherings around bigger screens, Time Out has chosen some of the best digs in which to catch the games.

Legends Sports Bar and Grill (Roppongi)

Despite a reputation for been the capital of foreign sleaze in Tokyo, before 11pm Roppongi is actually a great place to visit for food and to meet people who are more interested in having a chat than pulling a woman. Legends sports bar has become a focal point for watching both the British Premiership and U.S sports such as football. During Olympics season, however, feel free to head over to watch your favourite athletes in Vancouver.

The bar is fully equipped for all sports events with a number of large TVs and often draws in crowds for major games. An American themed menu includes pizzas, buffalo wings an chips and chili, with beers running around the ¥1,000 mark.

Address: Aoba Roppongi Bldg. 1F, 3-16-33, Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo
Telephone: (03)3589 3304
Open: 5pm-late every day.
Website: legendsports.jp/Home/tabid/139/language/en-US/Default.aspx

Hobgoblin (Akasaka)

The three Hobgoblin pubs through the city are associated with the Wychwood Brewery – a British producer of organic beers, and have one of the most authentic ‘pub’ feels in Tokyo. Each bar has wide-screen televisions and will be more than happy to flick onto the Olympics if customers request it. The bars also have the technology to allow them to broadcast sport from around the world all day, every day. In addition, there are also darts boards that can be used for free in each location.

The first branch, in Akasaka, is decorated with imported furnishings from Britain and the bar offers a huge all-day-breakfast (¥1,600) along with pies and the usual British pub fare. All staff are proficient in English. Pints, including Hobgoblin Ale, range in price from ¥900 to ¥1,000. Happy hour is from 5pm to 7pm every day, with three-quarter pints of all beers and lagers costing ¥500.

Address: Tamondo Building B1, 2-13-19 Akasaka, Minato, Tokyo
Telephone: (03)6229 2636
Open: Mon-Fri 11am-3pm, 5pm–late; Sat and nat. holidays 5pm-late; closed Sun.
Website: www.hobgoblin.jp/Home/tabid/90/language/en-GB/Default.aspx

The Footnik (Osaki)

The Footnik is essentially a soccer bar, but the owners assured Time Out that for major events, the screens will for a time be focusing on Vancouver. The bars has projectors as well as large flat-screen TVs on which to watch proceedings.

The difference between the Osaki bar and the original pub in Ebisu is the clientele. While Ebisu tends to cater more for a foreign crowd, with many locals having frequented the bar since it opened in 2001, the Osaki branch, which opened in 2007, is frequented mainly by Japanese working in offices and living in the newly developed area.

The menu consists of standard British pub grub and includes English and Mexican weekly specials and favourites such as fish and chips (all meals around ¥1,000). A pint will set you back between ¥900 and ¥1,300, with ¥200 off most drink during happy hour (3:00pm-7:00pm).

Address: Think Park Bldg. 1F, 2-1-1 Osaki, Shinagawa, Tokyo
Telephone: (03)5759 1044
Open: Mon-Sun 11am-1am
Website: www.footnik.net/english/

The Black Sheep (Ikebukuro)

Opened in 1998, The Black Sheep is the long-established bar for foreigners in Ikebukuro, and will be showing the Olympics at all times other than during foreign soccer and rugby game broadcasts. The bar has a cosy feel, holding a maximum of around 50 people, standing room included.

On the food menu, the highlight is the bar’s steak and chips plate at ¥1,000. Beers cost from ¥700 to ¥900 and happy hour is from 6pm to 8pm every day, with cocktails at ¥500 and beers ranging in price from ¥500 to ¥700.

Address: 1-7-12 Higashi-Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo
Telephone: (03)3987 2289
Open: Sun-Thu 6pm-1am; Fri, Sat 6pm-2am.
Website: theblacksheep.jp/

The Meguro Tavern (Meguro)

With a 60-inch flat screen television, a number of smaller TVs and a projector, The Meguro Tavern is fully equipped for any sporting event one may wish to watch. The bar, established in 1998, also has one of the friendliest landlords in the capital – Garth – who is more than happy to tell tales of his adventures as a photographer in the 1980s to curious patrons.

The pub is famed for its weekly all-you-can-eat Sunday roast (¥1,950, from noon until food runs out), which serves up three types of meat, roast and mashed potatoes, vegetables and probably the best Yorkshire puddings in Asia. Beers are ¥950-¥1,000 a pint and one must be purchased with any Sunday roast order, though normally most people have had five or six by early evening.

Address: Sunwood Meguro Bldg. 2F, 1-3-28, Shimomeguro, Meguro, Tokyo
Telephone: (03)3779 0280
Open: Mon-Fri 6pm-1am; Sat 5pm-1am: Sun: 12noon-11pm
Website: www.themegurotavern.com/

Wagan (Ebisu)

This small, cheap and cheerful izakaya near Ebisu's West Exit is dominated by one feature – its television. The TV has pride of place in the bar and the staff are happy to put on whatever customers want to watch. Beers are ¥450, and ¥300 during happy hour (5:30pm-7pm) and most dishes cost less than ¥500. The place has a local feel, and while the menu may not be so different from that of a chain izakaya's, the quality of the food is much better. The staff speak little English, however, and the menus are only in Japanese.

Address: 1F 1-2-12, Ebisu Miniami, Shibuya, Tokyo
Telephone: (03)3715 5554
Open: 11.30am-3pm; 5.30pm-3am
Website: www.ebisuwagan.com/

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


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