We’re heading back to Kanto for this one but hear us out – sometimes you want to listen to some music as you drink your pint – loud enough to drown out the inane chatter of a drinker talking about the difference between an IPA and a double IPA (heard it!), someone talking to their date about cheese (heard that one too!), or perhaps just drowning out moronic comments about politics (heard that too many times!). While I do like people watching, having a beer and some music on is one of my guilty pleasures. In this list, we’re going to look at places that offer up some craft beer with a decent selection of music. It might not be to your liking, but try dipping your toes in a different pond.
Rudy Brew in Kamakura, Kanagawa
Why we chose it: Rudy Brew rose from the ashes of what was Xrosk, a really nice craft beer bar with Spanish tapas on sale but didn’t seem to be be popular enough for people to get down there. With Rudy Brew, the bar went darker, more American like in terms of food, and the atmosphere changed. The patio days opened up onto the street and is now non-smoking so you can get the best of both worlds. But the music, with its origins in ska and punk, also gets my feet tapping and with a sing-a-long once in a while too – something that I seldom do in public.
How to Get to Rudy Brew
The closest station to Rudy Brew is Kamakura on the Yokosuka and Shonan-Shinjuku lines, as well as the Enoden line.
Original Review: Rudy Brew in Kamakura, Kanagawa
Yggdrasil Brewing in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa
Why we chose it: Yggdrasil Brewing has quickly grown into one of our favourite places to drink at the source, though I do wish it were closer to where I lived. However, if you’re a fan of metal, either thrash, heavy, or power, then Yggdrasil Brewing should be on your list of places to go to. The beers are well-made so that’s also an added bonus but with Davido having a history steeped in metal music, he knows his stuff and will happily talk to you about it for hours on end, if you let him.
How to Get to Yggdrasil Brewing
The closest station to Yggdrasil Brewing is JR Hiratsuka on the Tokaido Main Line and also Shonan-Shinjuku Line. It’s about a ten minute walk from the station.
Original Review: Yggdrasil Brewing in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa
Nonsuch in Ikebukuro, Tokyo
Why we chose it: When we first went to Nonsuch, I was taken aback. Is this a craft beer bar trying to be a British bar, or a British bar with craft beer on tap? However, the music got me and kept me there for a much longer drinking session than expected. While the range of beers on tap is narrower than we would like, taking your name from an album that the British band XTC wrote is some going. The British theme also extends to the music, with plenty of Indie music from the 80s to the 00s included on an electric playlist that included some obscure bands that I never thought I’d hear again.
How to Get to Nonsuch
Nonsuch is located in about a 5-minute walk from Ikebukuro station and a 10-minute walk from Kanamacho station on the y the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line and the Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line
Original Review: Nonsuch in Ikebukuro, Tokyo
Big Love Records in Harajuku, Tokyo
Why we chose it: How could we ignore this place? A craft beer bar INSIDE of a record shop. This place came highly recommended to us and off we went, expecting something like a smaller version of Tower Records with a couple of beers on tap, but ended up being so much more. A quaint little music store, with racks upon rack of vinyl, craft beer on tap, and an electric mix of music on rotation. The beers are mostly from Shiga Kogen but be careful – I did make a few drunken purchases to be made after having drunk too much here but I’m glad that I did.
How to Get to Big Love Records
The closest stations to Big Love Records are JR Harajuku and also Meijijingu-mae on the Tokyo Metro Chiyoda and Fukutoshin Line.
Original Review: Big Love Records in Harajuku, Tokyo
Mugi no Oto in Shinjuku, Tokyo
Why we chose it: It’s not often we go out drinking in Kabukicho – well in fact I’ve been drinking there three times in 16 years of being in Japan – but the premise of craft beer was enough to get me out there. And also some electronic music too. Not quite on the level of Daft Punk but Mugi no Oto does have some gigs from time to time, with some DJ events as well. Just make sure that you check what events are on so you can pick the music you want to listen to. The beers aren’t the cheapest in Tokyo, but there is a decent variety of styles on tap from breweries in Japan.
How to Get to Mugi no Oto
The closest stations to Mugi no Oto are Shinjuku Station and Seibu-Station.
Original Review: Mugi no Oto in Shinjuku, Tokyo
Cafe and Bar Synchronicity in Kannai, Yokohama
Why we chose it: Taking your name for a bar from an album isn’t new, but taking it from one of the best bands from the UK, aka The Police, involves some serious courage. Your bar better be good, the beers be better, and the music always on point. Cafe and Bar Synchronicity does that and thankfully is also non-smoking now. You too can listen through The Police albums if you want, or an ever rotating list of UK indie music with some jazz thrown in for good measure too. The beer list is wide and varied, with beers from across Japan, and also some UK pint glasses for your beers.
How to Get to Cafe and Bar Synchronicity
The closest station to Cafe and Bar Synchronicity is Kannai station on either the JR Keihin-Tohoku line or the Yokohama City Subway Blue Line. It’s a five minute walk from the north exit of JR Kannai station. From the Blue Line, take the Isezekicho exit and the bar is about three minutes from there.
Original Review: Cafe and Bar Synchronicity in Kannai, Yokohama
Sakura Taps in Sakuragicho, Yokohama
Why we chose it: A well curated and updated taplist? Great, it’s what we deserve at least. But then a custom made background list of music that can be downloaded or streamed at home? Even better. Sakura Taps is one of my personal favourite bars, and I’ll often take people in here for a couple of beers when they come to Yokohama. The bar staff are friendly and are willing to put on additional tunes to the playlist, as long as it suits the ambiance of the bar – so no thrash metal, or post-punk, or noise metal I’m afraid. However, there is an good range of tunes on here and having the playlist means you can at least remember what you listened to.
How to Get to Sakura Taps
The closest station to Sakura Taps is JR Sakuragicho which is one stop on the after Yokohama on either the JR Yokohama line or the JR Keihin Tohoku line. You can also use the Yokohama City Subway and get off at Sakuragicho station too. Use the south exit and it takes about five minutes to get there.
Original Review: Sakura Taps in Sakuragicho, Yokohama
Thrashzone in Yokohama, Kanagawa
Why we chose it: Do you really think we wouldn’t include this institution of thrash metal, power metal, hair metal, heavy metal establishments? You come here for the music and beer, there is barely any chance for a conversation unless you don’t mind shouting or talking very loudly. While Thrashzone won’t win any awards for customer service or its beers, it does what it sets out to do – big powerful beers, with even more powerful music.
How to Get to Thrashzone
The closest station is Yokohama station and is then about a five minute walk from the station.
Original Review: Thrash Zone Yokohama in Yokohama