Everywhere Tokyo?

Discussion in 'Beer Travel, Events and Releases' started by cneville, May 11, 2016.

  1. cneville

    cneville

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    Location:
    A2, MI
    Random work trip to Tokyo got scheduled today for next week. Will have part of next Thursday and Friday and all of Sunday on my own. Staying in Shiodome? I think? I know jack shit about Tokyo but if anyone has any cool spots (booze or otherwise) that I can hit I'm looking for recommendations. Thanks TB!
     
  2. MrKennedy

    MrKennedy

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    The Yushukan war museum/shrine was pretty intense, but i'd recommend.

    Also the Meiji Jingu shrine is worth checking out.

    If the Yomiuri Giants are playing baseball at the Tokyo Dome, i'd recommend it, great atmosphere.

    For bottle shops, Liquors Hasegawa has some Japanese beers (there are two Liquors Hasegawa in Tokyo station). The better one is near Daimaru department store (outside the ticketed part of the station). Tanakaya (walk off the train at Mejiro station and turn left from the station and walk about 100m) has a great whisky selection and more international beers etc. It is cash only.

    For bars,
    • Devilcraft in Kanda (tiny place, 5 floors), about 16 taps and really good pizza. It was probably my favourite.
    • Brimmer Beer box is unique (a bar inside a shipping container).
    • Craftheads has a big name because of the US beers and whisky selection.
    • Goodbeer Faucets has about 40 taps and generally fun stuff to drink.
    • Popeye is a long standing bar (about 30 years). Has 80 odd taps and generally pretty busy. It is located right near the Ryogoku JR Rail station (this is the one near the Tokyo home of Sumo wrestling). Probably the best place to find lots of Japanese beer on tap.
    • Baird bar in Harajuku has more US influenced beers (made in Japan)...there is a lot of US beer to be found in Japan.
    • TY Harbor Smokehouse (the best way to find it is to find the Oakley O store) was nice, good staff and food.
    • Ushitora is also a nice place to drink and eat with some good Japanese beers on tap. I found it hard to find, took me about an hour or two of wandering around Shimokitazawa.
    I have a friend who lived there for a few years, he suggested to me that the best thing to do to enjoy Tokyo is to buy a Suica card (for train/subway) and get out at a station and just wander around and check it out. You certainly see a lot a get a good feel for the place. Just remember the trains stop at 0100hrs (not at the end of the line...i.e. if the next stop is at 0100, the train stops there for the night).

    Hope that helps and enjoy your time there.
     
  3. cneville

    cneville

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    Location:
    A2, MI
    forgot to thank you, this is super helpful! leaving tomorrow, will report back.
     
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  4. MrKennedy

    MrKennedy

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2013
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Enjoy!! I did a bit of looking around afterwards and it looks like Brimmer Beet Box has closed down. A bit of a shame.

    Anyway, still plenty of places to check out.
     
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  5. Ataraxia

    Ataraxia

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Palo Alto
    Zoetrope in Shinjuku is a tiny, cozy place with scotch and whisky only. The bartender was playing a silent black and white film in the background
     
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  6. cneville

    cneville

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    Location:
    A2, MI
    This was on my list. Looked really cool.
     
  7. seedavid

    seedavid

    Joined:
    May 20, 2014
    Location:
    Montclair, NJ
    I'm going to Tokyo in a few weeks, and outside of a few bars, some tourist stuff, and a New Japan Pro Wrestling event at Korakuen Hall, I'm mostly planning to wander around as of right now. But I'm still looking for as many suggestions as I can get, and maybe someone to ask some stupid questions (since I somehow don't know anybody personally that has ever been to Japan). Any takers?

    cneville, any help for a guy that kind of looks like you?
     
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  8. cneville

    cneville

    Joined:
    May 3, 2013
    Location:
    A2, MI
    oy. from MrKennedy 's list, i only went to goodbeer faucets, which was a cool spot but i wouldn't necessarily seek it out. i ended up having about ~18 hours of non-work time on this trip so i didn't get to do a lot of what i wanted. the meiji jingu shrine + war museum is a must see for sure. i also went to oerbier man which was a bizarrely satisfying experience.

    other than that, my most memorable experience was wandering to a sake bar in the subway station near my hotel in a super business-y part of town and chatting with a the chinese bartender, his korean girlfriend, and a japanese businessman who loved donald trump. the bar closed at about 9pm, and the bartender (who spoke the best english) asked if i wanted to spend the rest of the night in "deep shimbashi" with the group. figuring i was unlikely to get killed in tokyo, i went along.

    the second part of the night started with 24oz glasses of sake mixed with green tea, picked up with eating seared whale from a 90 year old woman at what looked like a diner counter, and ended at about 3am at a 5 seat (no joke) yakitori bar where the only thing to order was sapporo.

    japan is incredible and i'd love to go back. i highly recommend just blindly exploring--just remember you can't read street signs and very, very few people speak english.

    edit: here's the sake bar i went to
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  9. FoudreGuy

    FoudreGuy

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2016
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I go to Tokyo every four years. I’ll make a longer post later today with actual recommendations.
     
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  10. PurityControl88

    PurityControl88

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2013
    Location:
    Omaha/Topeka
    I'd love to visit Tokyo and just spend a week wandering around hitting up hole in the wall ramen places and record shopping. Will probably never happen, but one can always dream.
     
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  11. FoudreGuy

    FoudreGuy

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2016
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    FYI: Japanese craft beer is really expensive. Way more expensive than you've probably ever experienced. The Japanese government taxes malt at a super high level which is why you'll TONS of happoshu (near beer) by Sapporo, Asahi, Kirin, Suntory, etc. Pints are like $12+. Fortunately most places offer half pints of everything.

    My favorite beer spot in Tokyo is Ushitora in Shimokitazawa which is also my favorite neighborhood to hang out
    in.

    My other favorite neighborhood in Tokyo is Yanaka. It's the only part of the city that survived the firebombing during WWII so still has a shitamachi old school feel to it. There's a little place called the Yanaka Beer Hall that shares a building with a bakery which is pretty cool.

    Koenji is another great Tokyo neighborhood. There's a Craft Beer Market taproom there and Koenji Bakusho Kobo.

    Baird has taprooms in Tokyo, they make solid beer. I like the Nakameguro and Harajuku spots.

    Kiuchi (Hitachino) has a new shiny taproom in Akihabara that apparently makes a bunch of small batch stuff that never leaves the space. It wasn't open last time I was there but looking forward to checking it out this coming April.

    I've been to the Devilcraft in Hamamatsucho. Good Chicago deep dish pizza and lots of Japanese craft beers on tap. They also brew their own beer.

    Pigalle is a really cool European craft beer bar in Sangenjaya. I stayed there in 2014 and randomly ended up drinking a bottle of Blaebier with the owner.

    There's a BrewDog in Roppongi (my least favorite part of Tokyo) if you've never been to one and want to check it out. They make some Tokyo-specific beers, too.

    CraftHeads often has lots of Three Floyds beers, but I've never been interested in drinking American stuff while I'm in Japan. GoodBeerFaucets is also cool.

    I think Brimmer closed down but they're working on getting a new spot if they're not open again. The cheapest craft beer in Japan, hands down. I'm not sure how they can afford to keep their prices so low.

    Tanakaya is the best bottle shop I've found in Tokyo. It's in Mejiro right off the JR Yamanote line. They have Cantillon if you care, but only Rose de Gambrinus, Kriek and Classic Geuze. But you're in Japan, ignore all the imports and drink lots of Japanese craft you'll never see again. I did buy a Cantillon tulip there I'd never seen before, though.

    Minoh from the Osaka area makes awesome beer. So do Sankt Gallen, Fujizakura Kogen, Kumazawa (Shonan Beer), Shiga Kogen and Oh! La! Ho!. They all bottle/can their stuff if you don't see it on tap.

    Go to 7-11 and get a can of their house beer. It's terrible but there's something fun about 7-11 branded beer. Look for Zima variants. I had Sakura Pink Zima when I was there in 2014.

    Kirin has a line of Grand Kirin pseudo craft beers which you can find at convenience stores. They're not great, but easily available and there's just something neat about a mass produced Galaxy IPA in 12 oz bottles for cheap.

    Also, eat ramen. Like, all the ramen. It's all good, you really can't go wrong. Kohmen is a large chain all over Tokyo that has killer tantamen ramen and shiso gyoza. Also eat some jiro ramen which is the most ridiculous tasty fatty concoction ever. Eat lots of tempura. Then eat more ramen. It's cheap and good everywhere.

    Go to Cibo in Ebisu Garden Place for killer cheap okonimiyaki and killer views of the city.

    Take the subway and JR lines around the city, but also walk as much as you can. You'll find so many cool places that way.

    The Toyota interactive museum on Odaiba is way more fun that I thought it would be. Check out the new 1:1 scale Unicorn Gundam outside Diver City if you go out to the island. Pretty impressive feat of engineering. And I love Gundam.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  12. FoudreGuy

    FoudreGuy

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2016
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    If anyone has any specific questions about Tokyo or Japan, feel free to ask. I've been all over the country multiple times, might be able to answer them.
     
  13. seedavid

    seedavid

    Joined:
    May 20, 2014
    Location:
    Montclair, NJ
    I have 2 small stupid questions to ask, because I keep reading conflicting things and can't get one good straight answer:

    1. Should I expect to be able to use my credit card at most places, or do I need to get like a stack of cash? I mean, yeah I don't expect every little hole in the wall ramen spot to take a credit card, but some things I read suggest that outside of retail and nice restaurants, nobody will accept a card.

    2. I'm confident in my ability to figure out and navigate the transit system (I'm used to NYC and if this is essentially that, but bigger and more efficient, I'm sure I'll get the hang of it), but the best payment option seems to elude me. Is there some kind of weekly pass I should consider investing in that will get me around the city? Do I need different passes for different lines?

    Thanks for the chance!
     
  14. FoudreGuy

    FoudreGuy

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2016
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Japan is very much a cash society and you should feel completely safe carrying large sums of money on you. Crime is very minimal and no one is ever going to bother you. There will definitely be places that don't take credit cards (you'll be able to get Yen at any 7-11 ATM with your foreign ATM card), but more and more business are taking them now.

    My first time there in 2006 on our honeymoon, pretty much no one took credit cards. It's greatly improving but you'll still find tons of shops that are still cash only.

    If you're not going to leave Tokyo, you'll just want to get a Suica card at the airport that you can load with cash for train rides on the subway and JR lines. The train out to Odaiba doesn't use Suica, but everything else will take it. The machines have English options and there is normally someone at the train station who can help you out.

    If you're planning on leaving Tokyo and want to take a Shinkansen, then you'll need to pay for that, but otherwise a Suica will get you around Tokyo.
     
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  15. fogindex

    fogindex

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Location:
    SF
    Small nitpick as your post is full of good info but if you're talking about the Rinkai line (which services Odaiba from Shibuya/Oimachi), you can 100% use your Suica card.

    [​IMG]
     
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  16. fogindex

    fogindex

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Location:
    SF
    I was recently in Tokyo for Zwanze Day, there were only about 25 people at the venue at the peak. Huge pours (about 3-4x the size of Zwanze pours in SF) for ~$9 USD. I stopped by Tanakaya for a recent drop of St. Lam & Vig 750s. Most nice department stores have a decent lambic selection, although I found the prices in Kansai to be about 20-30% less generally.

    I'm not a huge fan of Japanese beer in general, but I found Yorocco in Kanagawa-ken (Zushi) to be the best of the new wave of brewers.
     
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  17. FoudreGuy

    FoudreGuy

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2016
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    Huh. I remember the conductor telling us we couldn't use our Suica on that line. I know I wouldn't have been dumb enough to try and use my JR Pass. I wonder what was up.
     
  18. fogindex

    fogindex

    Joined:
    May 12, 2015
    Location:
    SF
    Hmm... I know that a JR pass obviously wouldn't work on a non-JR rail line... but that's an odd thing to advise.

    The only transports I've taken that didn't accept IC cards were remote funiculars, ropeways and ferries in the countryside (Chichibu, Ishigaki, Sakamoto... may be forgetting a couple). On this past trip my friends were able to use their PasMo on the shinkansen, I think this was a new development as of September 2017.
     
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