Tokyo's best beer gardens
On a clear night, you can gaze out across Tokyo and as far as Yokohama. Mt Takao's beer garden is located 500m above sea level, and does a good job of keeping hikers well satiated throughout the summer. The price includes an all-you-can-eat buffet of Japanese, Chinese and Western food, plus two hours of free-flowing beer, wine and cocktails. To say that this place gets crowded at weekends would be a gross understatement. The garden is open from mid-June to mid-October, and one word of warning: the last cable car departs at 9.15pm sharp.
Dine on latin style barbeque and seafood at The Oak Door’s beer garden this summer. The restaurant is offering a range of flavours from Mexico – think tortillas, garlic shrimp in a chilli lime dressing or chicken wings. Diners can also opt for a free-flow plan with bottomless margaritas and a wide selection of other drinks. If you can’t choose between barbeque or seafood, go for the VIP plan and dine in luxury on a comfy sofa with an endless supply of their finest champagne.
What’s better than having a frosty pint at the biggest rooftop watering hole in Shinjuku? Having freshly grilled meat to go with the icy cold pint, of course. Located on top of the Lumine department store, Shinjuku Beer Garden is hosting an outdoor barbecue in a lush green space that feels removed from its concrete jungle surroundings. The all-you-can-eat-and-drink package is priced at ¥4,800, and you can upgrade to the glamping plus free-flow champagne package for another ¥5,200. With five different cuts of quality meat on offer, this will make one unforgettable dinner.
While it is one of the more popular Bavarian beer fests in Tokyo, this Setagaya soiree at Komazawa Park doesn't really bring anything original to the table: you'll find the familiar sausages and quality German beer served from hefty glass tankards, plus contributions from Japanese craft breweries – exactly what the masses desire. This year's edition features the German oom-pah band Die Kirchdorfer, who have been firing up the crowds at the original Oktoberfest in Munich since 1994.
Shinbashi gets into the summer spirit again at this two-day festival of dancing, boozing and taiko drumming. The highlight is the yukata beauty contest on Friday evening (6.30pm start), the winner of which stands to walk away with ¥100,000 and a four-night trip to Hawaii. There'll be bon odori dancing both evenings, along with a range of food stalls and stage entertainment, and if you head to the fourth floor of the New Shinbashi Building you'll find an evening beer garden that runs from 5pm to 9pm.
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, where a predominantly suit-wearing crowd sinks beers and wine while lounging in grand wicker chairs. Classical music performances every evening add to the sense of sophistication – though don't expect to escape with a full wallet at the end of the night. Beer starts at ¥900, and most of the food costs upwards of ¥1,000 for izakaya-sized portions, with additional seating and service charges. But don't let that scare you off: some experiences are worth paying a little extra for, and this is one of them. Sekirei opening days for 2019 are from May 27 to August 16.
An expansive outdoor spot located within the children’s play area inside Meiji Shrine’s Outer Gardens, the summer-only Forest Beer Garden is separated from its boozy cousins by its tranquil, tree-lined surrounds and bubbling waterfall. Choose from an à la carte menu (mainly grill-your-own fare) or go all out with an all-you-can-eat-and-drink option (¥4,200 per person for men and ¥3,900 per person for women for two hours). Despite being one of the largest beer gardens in Tokyo, with a capacity of around 1,000, at weekends and during the holidays it gets extremely busy, so those going for the meal plan are advised to book ahead. The entrance to the garden is on the Jingu Gaien (Outer Gardens) side of the park, so if you're arriving from either Shinanomachi Station or Aoyama-Itchome Station be sure not to wander off in the wrong direction. The Forest Beer Garden's opening hours for 2019 are from May 21 to September 23.
With an outdoor wooden deck, enclosed on all sides by greenery and trees, Tokyo Sanuki Club Beer Garden is one of the capital's classier spots for outdoor boozing. The food's better than average, too, including basashi (raw horse meat), a sashimi assortment and cold bukkake udon noodles alongside the more predictable stodge. If you reserve for two people or more, you can try the garden's hearty ‘Jingisukan’ (Genghis Khan) course of grilled mutton and vegetables with an all-you-can-drink course for ¥5,400 per person. All-you-can-drink courses, excluding food, cost ¥2,900, though there's also the option of ordering drinks à la carte. Sanuki Club Beer Garden's opening days for 2019 are from May 13 to September 30.
More things to do in Tokyo
Find the top bars in Time Out's ultimate guide to drinking in Tokyo: from craft beer and wine to sake and cocktails
Tokyo has one of the most exciting local music scenes in the world, with top-notch talents on display any night of the week
Nightlife in Tokyo is more than just the bars and clubs. Here are some top late-night booze-free activities that don't involve drinking
Ice, ice baby. Here are Tokyo's best kakigori shaved ice desserts to beat the heat