Traveling in Japan (Tokyo and Kyoto)

Discussion in 'Rest of the World' started by Stevedore, Sep 29, 2015.

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  1. Hoppsbabo

    Hoppsbabo Champion (881) Jan 29, 2012 England

    I haven't been to Tanakaya for a couple of years but it was mostly all imported beer. The Japanese selection was almost non existent. I didn't see anything but macro beer in the restaurants, apart from the odd Coedo.
  2. kinopio

    kinopio Aspirant (278) Apr 30, 2009 Massachusetts

    In my experience the beer selection in average liquor stores isn't very good. Baird is fairly easy to find. As are cans from Yo-Ho Brewing(I think Tokyo Black Porter and Yona Yona Pale ale are good). There is supposedly a good store in Tokyo station in Ginza called Le Collier Marunouchi but I was not able to find it. Tokyo station is massive. I did find BarBar Tokyo which had some good things on draft. Other beer stops in Ginza are Dry Dock, Craft Beer Bar Ibrew, and there is a Delirium Cafe as well. Devil Craft Kanda is a short walk. I really like The Watering Hole in Shinjuku. Most craft places don't open till later but they open at 3 which may be a good time to bring your kid. They have a good tap list as well as bottles they will sell, also to go. I've seen Cantillon there(for pretty cheap) as well as some American sours in addition to some Japanese stuff.

    Most restaurants will not have craft beer. I very happily drink sake or local whiskey in restaurants, and save beer drinking for craft specific places(luckily there are a lot of craft beer bars in Tokyo). In Ginza I suggest Kagari for ramen. Try to get there a bit before they open as its popular and small.
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  3. amano_h

    amano_h Initiate (0) Mar 18, 2014 Oregon

    World Beer Market (or amicably known by locals as Biama-) in Kitasenju has a large selection of domestic craft, and isn't too far away from Ginza. Tanakaya also isn't that far away from Ginza either (just take the Yamanote line and get off at Mejiro) but doing either of these with a two-year-old might prove difficult.


    I have no first hand experience with this matter, and I have never seen anyone under the age of 20 visiting any of these establishments. However, the retail space at Craftheads and Baird is pretty small; Popeyes and BrewDog gets uncomfortably full to the point that I wouldn't want to take a two-year-old to such establishments.

    Good luck, hope this helped.
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  4. beepill

    beepill Initiate (147) Nov 28, 2012 Hawaii

    thanks for the tips.
  5. theKidisStrong

    theKidisStrong Initiate (0) Dec 2, 2014 Texas

    Hey hey,

    I'll be in Tokyo for about a week. Are there any cool new beer stops? I am most interested in visiting breweries, but bar recommendations are also appreciated.

    Thanks, everyone.
  6. MaLu

    MaLu Initiate (0) Mar 7, 2012 Japan

    I live near Kita senju. Right next to the station is a bar and beer store named Beer Ma Bar. I'm here now and the menu is 5 tapped beers, about half being Japanese with a significantly larger bottle selection. I recommend it for a quick afternoon stop. I also highly recommend Devil Craft brewery, which has a 3 stores all on the Yamanote line that are very convenient: Kanda, Hamamatsucho, and Gotanda. Good Beer Faucets in Shibuya is also pretty good.
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  7. Charliechu

    Charliechu Aspirant (216) Jul 1, 2013 California

    Im heading to Tokyo at the start of next month, and this thread has been very helpful for me to get a flavor of what to expect out there. If anyone wants to grab a beer or do a trade, holla! I also posted on the FT international section.
  8. patmoore

    patmoore Initiate (46) Sep 16, 2014 Massachusetts

    Hi everyone. Does anyone know if I can buy a Styrofoam bottle shipper in Tokyo? preferably around Shinjuku, but not a deal breaker.
  9. JonnyBeers

    JonnyBeers Disciple (345) Oct 24, 2012 Canada (BC)

    I doubt they are very common, but you might be able to find one in one of the better supermarkets that sells wine and ships perhaps. Many shops will deliver but I'm not sure what they deliver in. I've always just used a hardcase suitcase and bubble wrap in shoe boxes to take home, works fine. If actually shipping, hmmm good luck! might need to build your own.
  10. chelp

    chelp Initiate (0) Jun 28, 2014 Japan

    Hi, Styrofoam shipper is not popular in Japan. Cardboard box with partition is popular in Japan.

    If you are ok used once, I can ship this to your hotel shipping only. I have a private import. So I have many Cardboard box. Many boxes is in the
  11. dcgunman

    dcgunman Meyvn (1,335) Jul 1, 2009 California
    Society Trader

    Will be in the mountain town Yamanouchi next weekend for 3 nights. Shiga Kogen Brewery I know about. We are thinking about taking the train back down to Nagano for a half day visit. Any place in Nagano for a good pint of anything local Japanese beer? A place to eat and good beer would be a bonus.
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  12. distantmantra

    distantmantra Meyvn (1,194) May 23, 2011 Washington

    Oh! La! Ho! is in Nagano. They made pretty good hoppy beers.

    Baird also has a taproom there.
  13. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (4,537) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader

    It's been too long for me too make any specific beer-related recommendations, but if you're into rock/punk/metal, do yourself a favour and head down to Rock Bar Mother in the Kabuki-Cho area of Shinjuku in Tokyo. You will thank me, trust me on this.
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  14. dcgunman

    dcgunman Meyvn (1,335) Jul 1, 2009 California
    Society Trader

    Well we made it back from our short visit to Tokyo (2 nights) and our ryokan in Yudanaka (3 nights). Tamamura Honten Brewery was a special bonus tucked away in the ryokan town. And it was only a short 15 minute hike from our ryokan. I say hike because to walk there you are walking most all up hill from Masuya. Felt like a short hike. At the tasting room was 2 taps. Their DIPA 1t IPA and a Blonde (which I did not try). There were 5 foreigners when I walked in. A couple from Adelaide, Australia and and small group of women I believe from the UK. Several more foreigners and and Japanese walked inside during my 1 1/2 hour stay. I had a pour of the 1t and a bottle of Shiga Kogen Porter. Was having a great conversation with Johnnie Coles who I met when I first walked in. Another 3 guys from San Diego walked in and kept the conversation going in till I had to leave. The tasting room was old style Japanese house-like. Cold inside. Their beers warmed you up some. I ended up buying the 1t bottles to take back home with me. I also ended up buying several more bottles from the towns local store. Their house ipa, SK IPA, pale ale and sake rice IPA. The sake rice was the surprise for me. Bought an extra bottle to bring back. This place also brews sake. I think sake is their main drink and the beers are second. But don’t skip on their beers. All IPAs were good to very good. You can find their bottles and drafts all over Tokyo and Japan. Bottle price range from $3.5 to $6.5 per bottle. I didn’t see any 6pks. Only singles.
    Back down in Tokyo, our last night I managed to find Craft Beer Bar iBrew in Chiyoda. I’m roaming the streets of Tokyo at night with no WiFi to use my phone. I didn’t know about this thing called pocket WiFi. Sounds like a scam to me. Why is when I went to Busan, S Korea last year September I had access to WiFi everywhere I went to. Including as soon as you walk into the trains and subways? And their bullet train. The Shinkansen from Ueno to Nagano and back was terrible. Expensive and no WiFi. Unless you brought your pocket WiFi. Again, scam. Back to Craft Beer Bar night. I had 2 Japanese local craft. One was a NE style ipa. It was just okay. And it was not haze or hazy. It was more clear than anything. Maybe they were trying for the newest trend...filtered haze. I think it was around 6.7%. Again, it was just okay. The 2nd pour I had was from Kanazawa I believe. It was a tipa. 11%. This one I liked. I was going to have a second pour. Glad I didn’t. No WiFi at the bar. WTF! Scam.
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  15. distantmantra

    distantmantra Meyvn (1,194) May 23, 2011 Washington

    WiFi isn't super common, never has been on my trips there. We normally have a pocket wifi included with our AirBNB rentals and I've found it incredibly handy.
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  16. jcruz_

    jcruz_ Initiate (0) Dec 3, 2015 Guam

    Will be in Tokyo next week. Any recommendations for bars in the Shinjuku area to grab good beer? Also do the trains/rails shut down at night, and if so what time?
  17. distantmantra

    distantmantra Meyvn (1,194) May 23, 2011 Washington

    Bamboo Beer Pub, Craft Beer Server Land and Vector Beer Factory are in Shinjuku

    The trains shut down between midnight and 1 am. After that you'll need to walk back to your place or grab a (very expensive) taxi.
  18. Aetherbulb

    Aetherbulb Initiate (134) Oct 10, 2014 Texas

    Heading to Tokyo next week for three nights and read this thread. Some great info, wanted to see if there was any updates. Searching for a couple places to find good beer (on site and to go) as well as some good places to find whisky to go? Planning on hitting up craft heads, popeyes, and tanakaya, as well as liquor hasegawa based off this thread.
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  19. pinyin

    pinyin Disciple (365) Sep 19, 2013 New York

    Watering Hole
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  20. kinopio

    kinopio Aspirant (278) Apr 30, 2009 Massachusetts

    I'm planning my 3rd trip to Japan for september and in my research I've come across some new(I think) spots:
    YYG Brewery
    Spring Valley Brewery
    TBE Brewing
    Swan Lake Pub Edo
    Hitachino Brewing Lab(the view looks amazing)
    Vector Beer

    My two favorites from my prior trips are Watering Hole and Baird Harajuku Taproom. Devilcraft Kanda was cool too. Be sure to report back after your trip.
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  21. bostonwolf

    bostonwolf Initiate (127) Jan 20, 2015 Massachusetts

    Or stay out drinking until the trains start running again.
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  22. bostonwolf

    bostonwolf Initiate (127) Jan 20, 2015 Massachusetts

    Slightly outside of beer, but make sure you go see sumo if you haven't seen it before. There is a September tournament in Tokyo. We got tickets the minute they went live online and had pretty good seats (front row of the upper level of the stadium)

    Popeye's craft beer bar is about a five minute walk from the sumo stadium and usually has dozens of Japanese craft beers on tap.

    We also found it amusing that they sat all the gaijin at one six-seat table. No worries we made friends with Norwegians, Swedes and an Irishman.
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  23. bostonwolf

    bostonwolf Initiate (127) Jan 20, 2015 Massachusetts

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  24. kinopio

    kinopio Aspirant (278) Apr 30, 2009 Massachusetts

    The sumo tickets go on sale this week. I'll be there for the last two tournament days so my fingers are crossed.
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  25. SFCraft

    SFCraft Initiate (101) Mar 20, 2014 California

    If you can't get tickets online, you can still try your luck the morning of. My wife and I trekked over to Ryogoku Kokugikan first thing in the morning, on the last day of their Tokyo tour and managed to grab tickets to their "general seating" area. Staff will actively count how many people there are in line and will have a cut off when capacity has been met. Sure, it was the "nosebleeds" but it was significantly cheaper than whatever we saw online. good luck!

    The Yomiuri Giants game at the Tokyo Dome is amazing. It's BYOB. They'll have you pour your beer into plastic cups before entering.
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  26. pudgym29

    pudgym29 Initiate (161) Mar 14, 2009 Illinois

    First quotation: I do not have a mobile phone. What originally set me against having a mobile phone was, when I visited Tokyo for the first time in December 2005, all the telephone carriers in Japan were providing service a generation ahead of what was being offered then in the U.S.A. I realized that all the mobile phone services back in the U.S.A. were dogging it in order to get people to sign up with them. The upgrade would come after, and cost a lot more. :angry:
    I have a laptop. The one I am typing this reply on. What I have learned is that there is free wi-fi in Japan, but there's a routine you have to go through.
    In order to get free wi-fi from the major carriers in Japan, you must first have wi-fi access!
    The instruction is to e-mail a blank e-mail to the e-mail address for the free wi-fi provider. It will reply to that e-mail address with an access code which you will use when your laptop (or mobile phone) encounters one of its wi-fi networks. It will show as not password-protected; but it is similar to wi-fi networks in the U.S.A. letting you logon, but then presenting a Cisco password page into which you must input the password, which, in this case, is the access code e-mailed to you.
    For the second quotation: I must insist you hit the original location of Thrash Zone in central Yokohama. The one which is northwest of the Yokohama trains station, and which is within staggering distance of Guest House Kanalian, where I have stayed, and, despite its diminutive and spartan accomodation (You don't need a towel, but you must have pajamas.), is a venue I would love to stay at again - even if my nightly visitations were in Kawasaki or Tokyo. Koichi-san is very much into hard rock & metal music. I love it. I've given artifacts bought in the U.S.A. to Koichi-san. Go figure. I like jazz more than metal nowadays, but I still love this place. The next time I go to Japan, whether I stay in Yokohama or Tokyo (Khaosan, another hostel where I have stayed, has opened a hostel within staggering distance of Beer Club Popeye.:heart_eyes:), I will spend an evening here.
  27. Snowcrash000

    Snowcrash000 Poo-Bah (4,537) Oct 4, 2017 Germany
    Moderator Society Trader


    Awesome engrish, love it. Great name too.
  28. kinopio

    kinopio Aspirant (278) Apr 30, 2009 Massachusetts

    Just got back from 2 weeks in Japan(this was my 3rd time there). Sorry for the length of this post but hopefully someone finds it useful. In reference to prior posts I did get Sumo tickets when they went on sale online and the sumo tournament was awesome.

    Beer Bar Marumaru: Saw a "craft beer" sign while walking from Ueno Park to Akihabara so I stopped in. Had some interesting stuff on tap including a nice saison from Ushitora Brewery.
    Hitachino Brewing Lab: In a really cool building that has a patio on the river overlooking Akihabara. Had a milk stout.
    Devilcraft Kanda: Had been here previously 3 years ago. I had two of their own beers including a fresh hopped brown ale that was very good
    Nihonbashi Brewery Tokyo Station: Didn't like the couple beers I had nor the pizza
    Baird Taproom Harajuku: 3rd time visiting here. Had a good 2016 barley wine on tap. Always worth a stop.
    Watering Hole: Been here a few times before. They had a Swedish tap takeover going on so they only had a few Japanese beers on tap which was disappointing. Minoh Stout on cask. Still glad I came back as I very much enjoy this spot.
    Noodle Advocate: Loved the Udon at Kamachiku. Worth the wait. Ramen at Fuunji was good but wouldn't wait in that line again. Ramen Takahashi in Ginza was an excellent first meal of the trip. Tsukumen at Menya Mushashi in Shinjuku always does the trick.

    Kyoto Beer Lab: GO HERE!!! Best beer spot I've been to in Japan. An interesting range of styles using Japanese ingredients and all of them are good. My fav was Hojicha Stout which is brewed with black tea. Wasabi Gose was very nice. A few of their beers were available in bottles for takeaway. Doesn't hurt that its on a super charming street.
    Taku AKA Tadgs Gastropub: An old favorite. Good local draft selection and I dig the food.
    Neo Sujin: Its a bunch of open air food stalls near Kyoto Station. Pretty sweet. Look for Kyoto Craft Stand. They had 6 beers from Kyoto Brewing Company on draft.
    Beer Pub Ichiya: Bar from Ichijoji Brewery. I had most of their beers and thought they were decent. Yuzu Wheat being my favorite.
    Bungalow Teramachi: A second Bungalow with a more central location but smaller tap list.
    Noodle and Sake Advocate: Loved the Tsukumen at Muraji Ramen in Gion. Taiho Ramen was solid and open until 6AM. I love Jam Sake Bar. Great place to try different sakes. Gabana Sake Bar in Nishiki Market was fun.

    LBK Craft: Had beers from Nara Brewing and Kyoto Brewing on tap. Good food too. On 2nd floor in a mall.

    Real Beer Style Golden Garden: Fun spot but expensive. Kuru Pilsner was nice.
    Hangout: Some good local stuff on tap

    Craft Beer Market: About 30 taps and the best prices I saw in Japan. In the basement food hall of Osaka Station. After we went to a Orix Buffaloes baseball game. If you bring a can or bottle of beer(or whatever beverage) they will give you a big cup to pour it into to bring in. I think you can only bring in one beverage and this trick may apply to all Japanese baseball stadiums.

    In conclusion: Japan is the best at many things but they are only pretty good when it comes to beer. I drank as much sake as I did beer because the stuff is damn delicious. If you go to Japan and don't try a range of sakes you are seriously missing out. I went to a sake festival in Hiroshima and it was about $14 USD for 4 hours of all you can drink sake from local brewers. Knocking back some pours and talking baseball with a bunch of 80 year old locals was a treat. Hiking while hungover in Miyajima the next day was a bit of a challenge though.
  29. distantmantra

    distantmantra Meyvn (1,194) May 23, 2011 Washington

    It does apply to all NPB stadiums. I did this at Tokyo Dome back in 2010. My friends who live there said they're referred to as "the cups of shame" but no one cares.
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  30. MattNewkirk

    MattNewkirk Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2018 Singapore

  31. bostonwolf

    bostonwolf Initiate (127) Jan 20, 2015 Massachusetts

    Man I wish I'd known that before the game. I would have bought a bottle or two to go at the festival.
  32. Duckaduck

    Duckaduck Initiate (0) Sep 13, 2015 Japan

    The problem with bringing more than one bottle or can is the rules says no bottles or cans in the stadium, so there's a good chance they'll make you pour every beer you brought into a cup before entering, so you might end up with some beer that's been sitting in a cup too long by the time you get to it.
    As a regular drinker in Tokyo my recommendations for getting japanese beer would be any of the three Devilcraft locations- though if you're in a group you'll likely need reservations- Gremlin, any Baird taproom or one of the Craft Beer Market locations. Devilcraft and Baird make their own beer, Gremlin and the CBMs offer a variety of japanese and import beers.
    If you just want to find something near where you're staying there's a guy who runs a blog called Tokyo Beer Drinker who reviews beer bars all around Tokyo.
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  33. imposterzilla

    imposterzilla Initiate (0) Jan 23, 2019 Washington

    Liquors Hasegawa and Popeye are a must, though last time I was there was October 2017.
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  34. totalbangover

    totalbangover Initiate (108) Jul 3, 2012 Michigan

    Quick question for anyone watching this thread: I’m headed to japan next week and wanted to bring some beers along to bif randomly at various spots I’m drinking at. Any recommendations on a style you think would get the best response? Ipas? Big stouts? Etc.
    Thanks for any insight guys!
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  35. totalbangover

    totalbangover Initiate (108) Jul 3, 2012 Michigan

    If anyone’s interested I brought ipas and the dudes at Kyoto beer lab seemed stoked
  36. Izzy_Izumi

    Izzy_Izumi Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2017 California

    Looks like I'm going to be in Tokyo at the beginning of the year to the 10th. Has the list overall changed since....this whole thread inception? Should I also bring some to share?
  37. Onerandombeer

    Onerandombeer Initiate (59) Nov 24, 2017 Illinois

    Figured I'd post here since a lot of Japan folks are already in here. I'll be in Japan next month, not sure of exact dates yet, but I wanted to see if anyone was looking for any particular beers or from the midwest. Might be able to arrange a trade or delivery, so putting it out there if anyone is interested.
  38. catscadia

    catscadia Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2016 Washington

    Any new spots for 2019? I'll be in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto the next 2 weeks
  39. Onerandombeer

    Onerandombeer Initiate (59) Nov 24, 2017 Illinois

    I'm planning on hitting Aloha Whiskey and The Mash Tun in Tokyo, and the craft beer place in Imazato. I'm seeing folks recommending this spot in Kyoto, might head there too.
  40. totalbangover

    totalbangover Initiate (108) Jul 3, 2012 Michigan

    Really depends on what you're going for. Do you want to try beers from Japan's fledgling brewery scene? Access to rare American/Belgian beers you can't easily get here in the States? I would add, do you want to pick up Japanese whiskies while you're over there, or dip your toe into the world of sake? Lmk if you want some recommendations for shops for the whisky and sake, but here's my concise beer advice from Kyoto and Osaka (didn't spend time in Tokyo).

    Of all the Japanese craft breweries I tried Kyoto Beer Lab was the standout. Ultra friendly too. Many of the local Japanese breweries are still getting on their feet but Kyoto beer lab was solid.

    Craft Cafe Imazato in Osaka was honestly one of the best drinking experiences I've had in my life. Extremely friendly place, instantly struck up conversations with many of the people around me, access to insane beers (for me as a midwesterner anyway, might be different for you being from Washington); at the time Double Stack was on tap, and I topped several of those off with a bottle of HotD Matt. Osaka generally seems to have a connection to the Portland beer scene, I think because that's where many of the people who have set up the pubs and bottle shops came from. The one knock on this place is that it almost felt like one of the best American bars I've ever been to, the majority of patrons were American, the beer was American, etc., if you want a Japanese experience maybe go elsewhere, but I wouldn't have changed a thing.

    The guys at Imazato told me of a local Osaka bottle shop whose name I forget, but I went the next day and was blown away by the selection: 375 ml Japanese Cantillons, about 5 JReams, many of the limited Fremont brews, many many other things I'm forgetting. If you ask about the place I'm sure the Imazato crew will tell you where it is, I can look into it more too, BM me if you'd like that.

    Cheers and good luck on your travels!
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