Now that it’s nearing the end of a freezing winter here in Tokyo and the cherry blossoms feel like mere seconds away, it’s time to hang up the jackets, dust off the shorts, and get outside. In a city so overflowing with buildings and people, Tokyo doesn’t really seem like the outdoor beer garden kind of city, and that’s true. Indeed, small, hidden bars and cafés outnumber sprawling beer gardens by the hundreds, but that’s not to say the city doesn’t have its few outdoor gems – here are just a few of the best.
Tucked underneath a set of railway tracks just around the corner from Shimokitazawa Station, Shimokitazawa Cage is a hangout as unique and unconventional as the area itself. It’s home to a bar, restaurant, and a rotating roster of events like record fairs and live performances. Though from the outside it may look a bit like a jail, this is one cell in which you wouldn’t mind be locked up.
〒155-0031 Tokyo, Setagaya, Kitazawa, ２ 丁目6−2, +81 3 6407 0707
Sitting in the fashion forward hub of Aoyama, Commune 246 is a little bit of everything. Part food truck park, part event space, part live performance space, and part bar, it’s a fail-safe hangout all year round. In winter, you can stay warm by sipping a glass of mulled wine, next to one of the many gas heaters dotted across the place. But in summer, when the nights are long, is when it truly comes to life. If you don’t want to leave, that’s ok, they also have an AirBnB caravan on site.
Hacienda del Cielo
Want to see Tokyo from up high, and with a taco in hand? Well, then book a table at Hacienda del Cielo, a delightful Mexican joint in the popular neighborhood of Daikanyama, just a few minutes from the heart of Shibuya. Sitting a whopping nine floors above street level, the views are incredible during the day, but when the sun starts to set and the cityscape is illuminated, it’s arguably one of the best views in town. It’s a popular place, so be sure to book on weekends to avoid missing out.
〒150-0033 Tokyo, Shibuya, Sarugakucho, 10-1Mansard Daikanyama, +81 3 5457 1521
TY Harbor Brewery
For a view of Tokyo by the water, then head on over to TY Harbor Brewery in the underrated area of Shinagawa. Sitting on the Tennozu Isle, here you can sample a wide range of ales from the next-door brewery while bobbing along on River Lounge, the city’s only floating lounge.
2 Chome-1-3 Higashishinagawa, Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan, +81 3 5479 4555
Forest Beer Garden
Located in Meiji Shrine’s Outer Gardens, this summer-only beer garden is illusive, but well worth visiting if you find yourself in Tokyo during the warmer months. Unlike many other outdoor bars, there’s something incredibly tranquil about this place. The flowing waterfall in the background and the towering torii gates just a short walk away give the garden an almost spiritual atmosphere. Pop in for a quick visit, or sign up for the all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink option if you’re in for the long haul – just be sure to book on the weekends because this place gets mighty busy.
Sign All Day Daikanyama
If you want a café that you can hang out in from morning to night, then Sign All Day in Daikanyama is your best bet. A newer figure on the local café and bar scene, this place serves up killer breakfasts, excellent coffee, deli-style lunch sets, and Italian-style dinners, as well as plenty of booze. Located right near Daikanyama Station, the open deck is a great place to chill, soak up the sun, and people watch. Also it’s just a short walk from Shibuya.
19-4 Daikanyamacho, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, +81 3 3780 9570
Mt. Takao Beer Mount
This one is for the more adventurous types. Mt. Takao Beer Mount is a beer garden perched on the side of Mt. Takao a popular day trip destination and a hiking hotspot just outside the city of Tokyo. From this outdoor beer garden, you can see sweeping views of nearby Tokyo and Yokohama. The sprawling outdoor setting is easily walkable and offers incredibly views along the way, but it’s also located next to the cable car stop, which runs up the side of the mountain, so there’s always that option, too. Like Forest Beer Garden, this one is seasonal, happening only during the warmer months, so be sure to check online to avoid being disappointed.
The Deck Coffee and Pie
Tucked around the corner a short stroll from Harakjuku’s bustling tourist hub, you’ll find this local gem. A taste of the real, local Harajuku, this pie-focused café and its sprawling deck are hidden in plain sight, but somehow manage to miss the manic energy of the nearby Takeshita Street. If you need to escape, kick back with a coffee and soak up the afternoon sun, pull up a seat on the deck.