Have you ever been to a place called “beer garden”? It is one of the many summer tradition in Japan, and most of them have started last month. People go there after work to slake their thirst, have some mouth-watering snacks, and chat with co-workers after work. Because summer is kind of an uncomfortable season for many people, some companies or departments plan to have drinking parties there as “shokibarai (to forget the heat)”. Therefore, the payday of summer bonus is upcoming and people likely will spend money on drinking. If you are working at company in Japan, maybe you will get interested in the beer garden, too. Or you might be planning to go there with your non-Japanese friends. There are 5 tips about beer gardens in Japan. Check them out, and have fun at the oasis of the city.
Where are those Beer Gardens Located?
Basically, several beer gardens are operated by department stores, hotels, etc. and usually located on the rooftop. Because of their type of location, the operation is only in summer. However, some of them start operation from the end of May. The typical hours are from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. because the main customers are usually office workers near these stores, and you can access there through elevator even after the store closes. Since the last Friday of each month has been established as “Premium Friday”, some beer gardens open at 3 p.m. When you enter the store earlier, you might be able to get a discount. Therefore, other beer gardens also have discounts for customers who enter after 8 p.m. For non-Japanese customers, some beer gardens have a discount named “inbound service”. When you show your passport at the store, you get some discount for a couple of hours. If your friends and family are coming to Japan in this period, you may take them to the beer garden to experience the summer in Japan. These offers are for certain periods, and you need to check their official sites before making a reservation.
What Kind of Dishes Are Served?
Do you think beer garden serves only Japanese food like sushi, tempura, etc.? If so, that’s not the case. Japanese people are known for their large variety of food culture, and the beer garden also serves several kinds of food which goes well with beer. The best known items are edamame, yakitori (grilled chicken), and karaage (deep fried chicken). However, many beer gardens offer variety of food every year; Italian, Korean, Chinese, etc. Moreover, some beer garden has a variety of soup and salad, and other beer garden has BBQ area, taco bar, and locally- produced dishes. Meanwhile, people tend to think dishes which go well with alcohol is quite unhealthy, however, some beer garden serves healthy dishes like oden, quinoa, etc. and people who pay attention to their diet can also enjoy various dishes there. They usually serve all you can eat and drink, but don’t eat too much. Needless to say, it is against manners that you leave something on your dish and take them out.
Are they open even when it’s raining?
Because it usually operates on open-air locations, you could be afraid of the weather especially in the rainy season. But you do not need to worry about that. Most of beer gardens have tents against rain to operate as possibly as it can. You can stop by any beer garden and have a drinking party though it has a chance of rain. However, the tents are not for all seats, and the beer garden can also cancel its operation when it is really pretty bad and if there’s a typhoon. If you are not sure if it’s open or not, you may call it before you go.
Is Reservation Required?
We often concern ourselves about reservation before going to a restaurant right? Basically, reservation is required when you want to go to beer garden. You should make a reservation by phone, and a direct phone number is usually available. However, you might hesitate to do it if you don’t really have confidence in your Japanese skill. Many beer gardens also accept internet reservation, and you may choose there. But some of them have deadlines. Therefore, if you want to change or cancel your reservation, you have to call to complete it. If you won’t go there without a cancellation request, a fee can be charged. Check more details before reservation.
Can Non-Drinkers Go to a Beer Garden?
Even though it is named “beer” garden, other alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are also available. It means people who don’t like beer and under 20 years old are also welcomed. There are varieties offered by the restaurant, but you can also choose cocktail, wine, non-alcoholic beer, and more. Therefore, some beer gardens serve seasoned imported beer, and you can enjoy several flavors all throughout summer. Basically, there is a no time limit except when it’s crowded, but some discount offers occasionally allow it for a couple of hours including inbound discount. Also, if you want to drink a little, you can choose early/late time discount for 2 hours, or student discount if you are over 20 years old and study in a university or college in Japan (you need to show your student ID). Because these offers are not for all beer gardens, you should check and compare each location which you are interested in. Of course, you should bring your ID or passport just in case.