It could be argued that one of the greatest things on Earth is sitting outside on a warm summer’s day with an ice cold beer. Being from the south west of England I am used to having a pub on every corner, and almost all of them will have a garden of some kind for whiling away the balmy summer evenings.
While Nagoya isn’t blessed with the same quantity of country pubs and expanse of green spaces it does make up for it by, every summer, opening up beer gardens atop of many of its buildings. Most of these, for a set time and cost, will offer an all-you-can drink ‘nomihoudai’ service along with food. Please keep in mind that the below list is for information purposes only and the establishments are not endorsed by Japan Info Swap.
Perched on the 13th floor of the Meitetsu department store the Meitetsu Building Beer Garden is perhaps the ‘daddy’ of Nagoya’s beer gardens and has both sheltered and unsheltered seating. Its popularity is most likely down to the unlimited drinks available from opening to closing (no other time restrictions), and this year, with a nod to the beer revolution taking place in Japan, for an extra 200 JPY per glass you can get a craft beer. There will be 12 different beers over the summer, with four available at any one time.
The food is also unlimited and, being mostly of the deep fried variety it’s pretty appetizing after a few beers, however it isn’t going to win many Michelin stars, to put it kindly.
While Meitetsu is cheap and cheerful, this relative newcomer to the beer garden market is a bit more upscale. Located on the 12th floor of the Meitetsu Grand Hotel, We Chita does a variety of course meals, most of which centre around pretty fancy seafood and yakiniku, all of which you can cook at your table.
There are various musical entertainment acts on specified days, it caters for parties big and small and affords delightful views of the Nagoya night sky.
There are three venues for this beer garden chain, and the most popular is perhaps the Sakae branch on top of the Mitsukoshi Department store. There is a huge drink selection including hot or cold sake, and you can even request wine cocktails. The food includes all you can eat BBQ and Teppanyaki.
But what really sets MaiAmi apart is the entertainment. Depending on the night there will be a variety of performers, from magicians to acrobats and even the in-house idol band MaiAmi, after which the bar is named, if you are lucky. But be warned, where there are young girls singing and dancing, creepy middle-aged Japanese guys who know the dance moves are never far away.
This is another popular chouice in the centre of Sakae on top of one of the area’s landmarks. Fortunately it seats upward of 750 people, and it offers great views of the city, including the TV Tower, as the sun sets . The menu is of a Japanese-Sino fusion style buffet and the drink menu includes Kirin Ichiban frozen cocktails, which are perfect on particularly warm nights. Sports fans can watch the Chunichi Dragons games live on TV.
While it would obviously awesome if this beer garden was on the top of the TV Tower, that’s just not practical, is it? Not to worry, this is still a cracking evening out. Sheltered from the Sakae hustle and bustle directly under the tower, this beer garden sits you amidst palm trees and the greens of the local park, and while the area used to be a bit grotty, in the last couple of years it’s become a really nice place to hang out in the summer months.
The food is pretty decent, with two different yakiniku courses to choose from, and unlike most other places bottled drinks – including Corona and Zima – are included in the all-you-can-drink menu.
As you would expect, being in the Yanagibashi Fishmarket district, Yanagibashi Beer Garden’s specialty dish is steak. No, not really, it’s seafood and sashimi of course. But not only is the food pretty good, but they also have special events such as sports nights, live concerts from local bands (albeit mostly J-Pop) and party nights. Check out their Facebook to see what is going on tonight.
Photos: via Facebook