Whether you’re on holiday, enjoying a day off, or an alcohol connoisseur, day-drinking or park-drinking is one of those sweet nectars in life! Since drinking on the streets is legal in Japan, some people drink alcohol all throughout the day.
“It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”
This is the universal justification for starting a boozy session earlier than others in your present timezone. Day-drinking is socially unacceptable to some, but to others who know how to do it right, they know it’s a blast.
So, do Japanese people day-drink?
The simple answer is, yes!
Whether it’s street-drinking with friends, enjoying a BBQ at the beach with ice-cold beers, housewives enjoying a cocktail with lunch at an uptown restaurant or students soaking up the sun at the park with a couple of drinks, there is no denying that the Japanese know how to day-drink.
Day-drinking is especially prevalent during matsuri‘s—Japanese festivals—and during national holidays (there’s almost one every month!), and no more so than during the famous cherry-blossom viewing season. It is a custom in Japan to gather in parks with your friends and drink while admiring the cherry blossoms during this time. People show up as early as 5am in parks to snag a good picnic spot under the cherry blossom trees.
In short, you don’t have to worry about being judged for street drinking, having a drink while the sun’s still high up in the sky in Japan.
Here are a few of the many ways you can day-drink in Japan!
Drinking in Parks
Drinking in parks is probably the best and most common way to day-drink. There are lots of beautiful parks in Tokyo like Yoyogi Park and Ueno Park. If the weather is good, hit up a park with your friends and drink together!
The most straightforward way to get alcohol is to go to a konbini (convenience store) and go street drinking. They’ve got everything: beer, cocktails, wine, hard liquor and, of course, the deadly 9% alcohol Strong Zeroes. While you’re at it, grab a couple of snacks and you’re ready to day-drink like a proper local.
A favourite combination of ours, if you’re looking to add a touch of class, is Budget Mimosas: find the cheapest sparkling wine, a carton of orange juice and some frozen cut fruit, plastic cups and voila! You have yourself a little cocktail! Replace the sparkling wine with red wine and you’ve got a konbini Sangria!
Restaurants and Bar Drinking
Who doesn’t love brunch? Holidays or special Sundays brunching with loved ones – it’s these moments that often get a bit boozy (isn’t that why the Mimosa was invented?). A good brunch spot, quality food, a nice atmosphere and a decent drink selection makes for a relaxing afternoon.
A favourite of FLIP restaurant is Tractor Morning in Nakameguro. It’s primarily a bar so alcohol is plenty, and their delicious food often sells out. Another favourite is Hobgoblin’s Sunday roast where you can get a decent amount of food for just 1500 yen. Although it’s not quite as it is in England (where it originated), it’ll do for Tokyo. Bills may be overrated, but they have a great atmosphere for a fancy brunch, and they make killer cocktails.
One of the most effective ways to find brunch and places to day-drink is by using Ikyu, a Japanese booking website for hotels, restaurants, and spas. What’s great about Ikyu is that they sell discounted rooms and meals. You can score an awesome lunch/brunch with an all-you-can-drink deal at really nice restaurants, with just 3300 yen.
Please note that Ikyu is available only in Japanese. If you need help navigating it, feel free to message us. We’re more than happy to help!
If you’re looking for something other than brunch, there are some restaurants and izakayas that serve alcohol earlier than most.
The Flying Circus located in Shibuya has a great selection of gin and has a unique outdoor seating arrangement. Enjoy customisable G&Ts from 12:00 and chill in a circus-style tent.
Another great gin place is the Day Food Lab in Koenji, which is open from 14:00 on weekends. Cafe Havana needs an honourable mention as their happy hour (16:00-19:00) serves G&Ts and Moscow Mules for just 200 yen!
Events and Festivals
There are many events happening all-year-round in Japan, especially in big cities. There are event halls, park event spaces and festivals. You find food trucks, food stalls and drink booths everywhere in these events. There are usually performances for your entertainment as well, so you can sit back and relax with a drink in hand!
During summertime, you can find an abundance of beer gardens – often on rooftops of major department stores near major stations around the city. They typically involve all-you-can-drink BBQ deals.
As mentioned earlier, Japanese festivals are huge celebrations and many people visit these festivals to soak in Japanese traditions and culture. Aside from the food and drink booths, you can find activity and game booths, which people of all ages can enjoy. It is a great place to dive into day-drinking in Japan!
Wander around the city with a drink in hand
Since drinking alcohol in public places is legal in Japan, you can bring along some of your favourite drinks and get boozy while wandering around the city. If you are walking around and street drinking, chances are you will discover a side of Tokyo that is lesser-known than the regular spots that are talked about online. This is how we came across a lot of the places we discovered and want to share with you!
Not sure where to start or where to go? Check out our guide that takes you to all major sights of Tokyo in a day. We also have walking tours exploring the city, so just message us if you’re interested in joining one of them. You can get in touch with us by clicking the messenger button or by clicking here.
Day-drinking is a Japanese experience through-and-through and is one you should have if you’re here. It’s very much unlike drinking at night where things can get wild and intense with tequila shots and blackouts. Instead, day-drinking is meant to get you to a nice level of tipsy that makes the rest of your day relaxed and more enjoyable.
We hope you’ll try one of these options to day drinking in Japan and go street-drinking and we’d be delighted to know if you do! Tag us on Instagram at @flipguide or on Facebook at @flipjapanguide.