Tokyo-ites, rejoice! As hard as it may be to believe, there is warm, sunny weather waiting once those rain clouds clear̛—and so come the beer gardens popping up left and right. No more ties or jackets at work, and so many choices to grab a drink and relax at when work wraps up. From rooftops in the heart of the city, to shores and to mountains, rest assured, there is a beer garden around almost every turn, just for you.
Skyscraper + Rooftop Gardens
“Tokyo Dome City: Breezy and Green”
Open until September 27, you can drink for 120 minutes from 18:00 on the terrace between Tokyo Dome and Tokyo Dome City, up on the sky bridge, surrounded by the screams from Thunder Dolphin and the wee breeze that sometimes teases the Bunkyo-ku area. They advertise the chance to watch sports games and get involved, but it’ll be on you to get tickets and get there early for good seats. Enjoy rides all day, and drinks and food all evening.
“Shinjuku Lumine: 130 Days”
Though not as glamorous as other advertised places, the 9th floor of Shinjuku Lumine—yes, the one conveniently on top of the station—offers a surprisingly amazing view of the city, and it provides entertainment throughout the summer. With a wide mix of cuisines to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Adults are ¥4,000, and children can eat from the buffet at a discounted price (¥1,800). Check here (Japanese only) for a list of performances and menus.
“Aloha Natural, Parco, Kichijoji”
If Hawaiian BBQ and tropical-themed drinks pique your interest, swing by nearby Kichijoji and up to the roof of Parco for a view and an experience that will delight the senses. Beware of windy days, and bring the sunscreen for lunchtime. The fresh and fruity granola desserts complement the sparkling liquid counterparts well. Open all day—remember that this is a family-oriented area—and Inokashira is close to wind down after a rousing day on the roof. parco.jp/beergarden/detail_kichijoji.php
The smallest (maybe the name gave you a clue?) beer garden around, though big on style and beer selection, is the quaint “Petit Garden.” Only 200 meters from Shimokitazawa Station, this is a small but fun place to drink. You’ll recognize this beer garden by its Tudor-style building, and there is plenty of greenery and small accents that enhance the atmosphere. “Cute” and “popular with foreigners,” this is a nice place to get away while staying in the city. In keeping with the neighborhood’s late-night tendencies, this little garden stays open until 23:00.
One note-worthy spot at Tokyo Tower makes a tasty argument that the whiskey and soda concoction deserves a garden of its own. While it’s not the first place a long-time Tokyo resident might think to go, Tokyo Tower can be a pleasant place to return to and reminisce with friends about your humble beginnings in Japan. Watch out for rainy days—there is no cover, and it may close. Starting from July 10, meat eaters will want to get in on the “Genghis Khan” 120-minute nomihoudai/tabehoudai plan. It’s ¥4,000 for adults and reduced prices are available for kids.
www.tokyotower.co.jp/hot_topics/index.cgi?tno=2233 (Japanese only)
“Beer Garden with a Thai Touch”
Local Thai restaurant Gapao Shokudo is hosting a Thai-style beer garden at their Aoyama and Shibuya Sakuragaoka locations, featuring Thailand’s best known beer, Singha. It’s ¥4,200 per person and includes a two-hour nomihodai as well as an assortment of hors d’oeuvres, a Thai-style salad, and Thai rice porridge.
Hotel Beer Gardens
“Grand Prince New Tanakawa Garden”
Tanakawa Forest Garden at the Grand Prince Hotel is more of a luxury beer garden—for a quieter night with an atmosphere that doesn’t have an extreme “party vibe” packed with sweaty faces, this is a nice bet. The tables are pool side, and a garden alongside the tiki lighting takes the setting up a notch, as well as the price: it starts at ¥6,800 for BBQ and drinks. Open until September 27, from 18:00 to 21:30 daily, nestled in between Shinagawa and Tanakawadai Stations.
Another higher-end option within the same Prince Hotels Group, the Garden Islands offers more expensive cuts of meat and seafood—think lobster and crab legs—for the more luxurious sets. This one’s just around the corner from Tokyo Tower and Zojoji Temple. Hours are 17:30 to 21:30.
“Sky Beer Garden”
Up on the terrace at the Shinjuku Hilton is the Sky Beer Garden. Aside from the usual selection of great food and drinks, you’ll find many patrons donning yukatas and bringing along their pets—it’s one of the few dog-friendly beer gardens in the city. It’s ¥3,500 Yen for a 90-minute drinking and eating fest, and you can get a good view of the park and the city skyline. Sundown is one of the best times to hop over to the terrace.
www.hiltontokyo.jp/plans/restaurants/dinner/1462 (Japanese only)
Nouryousen “Booze Cruise”
One of the more best ways to celebrate summer is by keeping as close to the water as possible. This makes Nouryousen, endearingly referred to as the “booze cruise,” a grand plan for the whole spectrum of partygoers. Bonus: Whether you’re male or female, wearing a yukata gets you a ¥1,000 discount off the ¥2,600 cost for the two hour boat ride. With good timing and quick reservation making, you could score one of the boat rides during a hanabi (fireworks) show. Everyday from now through September; boat leaves daily at 19:15; closest station is Hamamatsucho.
“Aquacity, Odaiba—King of the Pirates”
Across Tokyo Bay, along the glittering Odaiba shores, is a haven for summer lovers. While many of the dozens of eateries in Odaiba are having summer deals and their own version of a beer garden, the official one is “King of the Pirates” on the 5th floor of Aquacity. With a decadent theme featuring scores of decorations and drinks fit for a pirate, this is a nice place to board a boat but never leave the shore. Food and drink combos start at ¥3,480, everyday from 17:00–23:00. www.aquacity.jp/floor/shop_detail/5F11/en (English)
r.gnavi.co.jp/g398542/ (Japanese only)
Gardens within Gardens
“Forest Beer Garden”
If you’re tired of waiting in line just to be able to grab a drink, opt for the Forest Beer Garden at the Trim Sports Centre in Meiji Shrine’s Outer Garden. Dubbed Tokyo’s largest beer garden, it’s a sure-fire way to guarantee quick eating and drinking. Families frequent the park because of the fantastic playground for kids, the sprawling lawns, and surrounding forest to play in. Forget the city around you and enjoy your dinner (yakiniku!) for about ¥4,000, but note that last order is a little early—21:00. Closest station is Shinanomachi, and the Forest Beer Garden is open until the end of August.
“Beer Terrace Sekirei”
Also near Meiji Jingu, but closer to the shrine’s wedding and reception garden, is the Sekirei beer garden, where the soft lawns and the dim lighting of this unique spot can make for a snuggly evening with your drinks. There are traditional dances and shows on certain nights: call ahead for the schedule. Reservations are available, but prices are unlisted, though they warn about taxes and a seat charge. With this place, you may want to go with the rule, “if you have to ask how much, you probably can’t afford it.” Open everyday until September 10, but closes at 22:30.
Easily one of the more popular, yet rewarding beer gardens to visit is the one at the top of Mount Takao. Yes, the train ride is about an hour from downtown, and yes, you either huff it up the slope or shell out more for the airlift or trolley, but the views, the fresh air, the monkeys…somewhere in there, the trip is worth it. Open until October 15, this high-altitude smorgasboard gives you access to multi-cultural food dishes, drinks other than beers, and a view of the stars after the sun sets, all for ¥3,500. Bring the bug spray, be ready to wait for an open table, and don’t forget that the last train leaves the mountaintop at 21:15. Check out “Beer Mountain” here: www.takaotozan.co.jp/takaotozan_eng1/beermnt/