It’s that time of year again folks. Time to put your dieting drive and your alcohol abstinence to one side and enjoy a few cold ones with friend again under the hot summer sun.
Beer garden season has returned to Japan once again.
In a complete polar opposite to the prevailing laws in my country of origin, Scotland, Japan, with its beer garden culture seems to actively encourage excessive summer alcohol consumption. Coming from a country where “Nomihodai” (all you can drink) deals were rendered illegal a few years ago, it’s certainly something of a cultural contrast.
Nonetheless, as someone who loves a cold pint on a hot day and who has long been a fan of the social aspects of having a couple of drinks with friends, I think beer gardens are a great idea, especially as a counterbalance to the stifling heat and humidity of an Osaka summer.
So with this in mind, let me take you on a tour of this summer’s best beer gardens for visitors to the Osaka area. Here are 4 of the best.
mitszo on Flickr
- “R” Riverside Grill and Beer Garden, Nakanoshima, Osaka City
R Riverside Grill and Beer Garden offers a range of Korean Barbecue food and a selection of beers and other drinks catering to a variety of tastes. Also, at only 3-4000 yen per person, for 2 hours of unlimited eating and drinking, depending on the time of your visit, it`s reasonably good value too. These days most beer gardens start at around 3,500 yen and can go as high as 5,000 yen depending on the menu and the duration. So, R Riverside offers not just a prime location, but pretty good bang for your buck too. It is a two minute walk from Yodoyabashi Station on Osaka’s Midosuji Subway line. The garden opens on April 8th and runs until December 25th, because nothing says “Christmas” quite like Korean barbecue food and copious amounts of Japanese lager!
Shinya ICHINOHE on Flickr2. ANA Crowne Plaza Hotel Osaka Beer Garden, Dojima, Osaka
Ryosuke Hosoi on Flickr
Located just around the corner from our previous entry in Nakanoshima, the ANA Crowne Plaza brings a distinctly more European flavour to its beer garden experience for 2016, with its Tanto Espana beer garden. As the name suggests, alongside your cold beers you’ll also have the chance to sample some fine European wines, and of course, that greatest of all European cuisines, in my opinion, Spanish food.
A paella and a pint may not sound like the most logical combination of food and drink, but trust me, it works!
You’ll also enjoy a fine selection of tapas. Tapas are small individual dishes, designed to be a sampling of sorts rather than a meal in itself. I guess you could make the case that a tapas bar is rather similar to a Japanese izakaya in the sense that customers are encouraged to order multiple dishes to share rather than eating just one dish for themselves.
Being a high class hotel, as one would expect, the ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka is a little on the pricey side at 4,600 yen with an online booking. This gets you 90 minutes of unlimited food and drink, but to be honest I would gladly pay that just for the paella!
ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka is a 5 minute walk from Yodoyabashi Station (exit 7) on the Midosuji Subway Line. The beer garden opens on May 24th and runs until September 30th.
foomtsuruhashi on Flickr3. Osaka Station City Latin Beer Garden, Umeda, Osaka
Do you like Mexican food and drinks? If you do then this Mexican-themed beer garden may be exactly what you are looking for. Alongside tortillas, loco mocos and other latin food fare, you’ll also find a selection of the best drinks that central America has to offer too, like Mojitos and for the ladies we have beautiful cocktails such as Blue Hawaii.
Whilst the food is not unlimited, the drinks are. Instead of the “tabehodai” (unlimited food menu), each visitor to the garden is given a delicious “Latin BBQ Box” with a selection of the best dishes the venue has to offer. The cost of your BBQ box and 2 hours free drinking time is 4,200 yen. If you’re still hungry after your BBQ box then additional side plates can be ordered at 900 yen a piece.
Again, it’s a bit on the pricey side, but if you have that love of Latino food and drink, like I do, then you could do a lot worse than pay Osaka Station City a visit.
The Latin Beer Garden is located on the 15th floor of the South Gate Building, atop JR Osaka Station. The garden opens this year on July 9th and will be running until October 10th.
4. The Oriental Village Beer Garden, Tenmabashi, Osaka
PYONKO OMEYAMA on Flickr
So far, we’ve looked at Korean, Spanish and Mexican beer gardens here in Osaka. However, perhaps if you are a long term resident of Japan like me, you may be more interested in something a bit closer to home as it were.
For this purpose, we have The Oriental Village Beer Garden. The Oriental Village, situated on the banks of the riverside in Tenmabashi atop the Keihan City Mall, built over Tenmabashi Station may not be the cheapest or the best known beer garden on this list today, but with beautiful panoramic views of an idyllic riverside, it is definitely the most photogenic.
With over 50 different drinks to choose from and a variety of barbecue meats and vegetables from all across Asia, The Oriental Garden has plenty for you to enjoy. A full all-you-can-eat-and-drink 2 hour seating costs 4980 yen.
The garden is located directly above Tenmabashi Station on the Keihan Line and Tannimachi Subway Line. It is open from now until September.