Japan’s beer gardens are a lot of fun, and they can certainly help make the long, hot and sticky summer weather more bearable. If there is anything better than drinking an ice cold beer in the open air on a hot summer night, it’s being able to drink as many as you like.
Beer gardens are generally open sometime in May until mid-September and are found on the roofs of large department stores or hotels. Most open at around 5 or 6pm and offer “viking” style food buffets with all-you-can-drink beer and cocktails, for an all-inclusive price of between ¥2500 and ¥3500. You can usually keep drinking until last orders, 15-30 minutes before closing.
There are exceptions to this system, in Hiroshima notably at the ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel. Many beer gardens now offer shelter in the event of rain, which makes going during the rainy season less hit and miss.
Don’t let the “garden” in the title fool you, if you go expecting to enjoy lush grass tickling your sandalled toes, you will be disappointed. The only greenery you’ll find is plastic, and, it has to be said, pretty tacky. Don’t let that get you down though, it’s all part of the experience. Just grab another mug of beer and enjoy being outside and, if you are lucky, a summer breeze. You’ll find locals at their most “relaxed” and friendly after a their first couple of trips to the bar, making beer gardens a great place to make new friends.
Click on the icons below to see opening times and prices of Hiroshima’s beer gardens and please feel free to share which you’ve enjoyed (or otherwise) and which offer the best food, drinks, desserts and atmosphere in the comments below.