Yokohama Oktoberfest

October 5, 2008

This week sees the return of Yokohama’s annual Oktoberfest celebrations. The German beer festival has already begun and will continue until October 13th near Minato Mirai station. It’s held in Aka Renga, the “red brick warehouse” which holds a peculiar fascination for the Japanese, but look like, well, an ordinary warehouse to me.

The Oktoberfest is always good fun, as only drinking prodigious quantities of beer can be. The organisers have even flown over a thigh-slapping German oom-pah band to entertain the boozers, resulting in the incongrous sight of men in lederhosen wandering around the futuristic streets of Minato Mirai.

You can buy German potatoes and sausages, and the selection of beers on sale is always terrific, (although, there is a confusing system whereby you have to pay a deposit for your glass, presumably to prevent drunk people from stealing the fancy tankards as souvenirs.)

The event gets more popular every year, and is heaving with revelers on weekends (many of whom tried to strike up conversations with me in German, but were disappointed to discover I’m English). This is fun, but the long lines for the portable toilets can put tremedous strain on a bladder bloated with pints of lager. I recommend going along on a week-night, when you can urinate with ease and, if you’re lucky, you might actually be able to sit down for a while.

Here’s the official website.

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What the…?

April 7, 2008

Any ideas what this clothes shop sign means?


More Yokohama Bars

March 21, 2008

And now, for the benefit of anyone who might be planning a visit, is another list of various western-style bars in Yokohama city.

PLAYERS BAR

This quirky bar is decorated from floor to ceiling with retro record sleeves, has glass cases full old toys and vintage Americana, and shows 80s music videos on a big screen. As a tasteless nostalgia-addict, it’s just my scene!
The food is terrible and the drinks are overpriced but, mysteriously, there are always many more women than men in this place, which is a very attractive selling point.
Players Bar
TEl:045-323-6866

THE FULL MONTY

A friendly British pub, which was recently relocated from an obscure suburb in the outskirts of Yokohama to the much more central Kannai district, The Full Monty has lots of imported ales and stouts on tap, as well as commendably large and authentic fish n’ chips and meat pies. The landlord is similarly authentic- a large, rosy-faced, bald, football-fanatic.
Despite the name of the place, there are (mercifully) no male strippers in attendance.
Full Monty British Pub, Tonnan Bldg 2Fl, 1-4-2Tokiwachou, Naka-ku,Yokohama-Shi
Tel: 045-212-2974

THE GREEN SHEEP

The Green Sheep is an Irish pub, conveniently close to West exit of Yokohama station (and directly next to the cheesy 80s soul club, Bar Luther, where you can go dancing afterwards.)
As the surreal and cute name of the place suggests, The Green Sheep is run by Japanese folks rather than actual Irish people so, while the menu and atmosphere aren’t very authentic, it has a pleasantly off-kilter, Japanized vibe. They serve the delicious “Yona Yona Ale,” and have live music events.
The Green Sheep
The Green Sheep, 1F, 2-10-13 Minami-saiwai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama 220-0005
Tel: 045-321-0950

THE LAST WALTZ

A poky little bar located down an obscure side street near Yokohama station, The Last Waltz is themed around Country Rock Bands like The Band and The Eagles. This kind of music is fine accompaniment to a few slightly pricey drinks (and some tasty fish and chips). It’s worth popping in here for a change of scenery once in a while, but you might get economy-class-syndrome from being cramped against the bar if you stay too long.
Last Waltz
TEL:045-441-5388

THRASH ZONE

For a thrash-metal-themed watering-hole, this joint is far more sophisticated than you might expect. I mean, check out the tasteful picture above! Even though they blast out heavy-metal tunes by the likes of Slayer, Pantera and Sepultura, the decor in Thrash Zone is subtle and the barman is very up-beat and welcoming. A weirdly incongruous blend of two worlds, (which is something I always enjoy). More importantly, Thrash Zone has several rare and scrumptious local micro-brewery beers on tap! It’s probably the best destination in Yokohama for beer-fans, even if you don’t like thrash-metal.
Thrash Zone
Paseri Bldg 2F, Tsuruyacho 2-19-8, Yokohama
Tel: 045-514-9947.

THE TAVERN

The best-known British pub in the area, this underground boozer shows live sport, and has a happy hour every weekday- all-you-can-drink Australian beer and selected cocktails from 6 to 8PM for 1900 yen. They also do an excellent traditional carvery on Sunday lunchtimes- all-you-can-eat roast beef and lamb for 1500 yen. Yum yum! A fine destination for gluttons. The Tavern also has carpets, barstools and wallpaper straight out of Coronation Street, and a middle-aged purveyor of appalling puns behind the bar.
The Tavern B1 Nishiguchi Meiwa Bldg, 2-14 Minami Saiwai Cho, Nishi Ku, Yokohama.
Tel. 045-322-9727

STOVES

A perennial favourite for ex-pats and tourists, Stoves, not far from the West exit of Yokohama station, serves up burgers and tex-mex food, and has a lively, party-time atmosphere. I generally only go there if I’m in the mood for some daytime drinking, because they have half-price drinks from 12 until 5PM every day. Nice!
Stoves
Tel:045-312-2278

PARTY ANIMALS

Located directly above the unique Characters Bar (a delightfully weird flea-market/bar I frequent), Party Animals is worth popping into if you’re in the area. Contrary to the bar’s name, the atmosphere inside is relatively subdued- you wont be forced to wear a toga and pour beer over your head while screeching “party on, duderino!” shortly before perpetrating a panty-raid, smoking super-skunk, and super-glueing a naked nerd to a comatose donkey… Unfortunately.
They have got a dart board though. And alcoholic beverages.
Party Animals
Kikuya Bldg, 2F, 1-19 Ishikawachyo, Naka-Ku, Yokohama-Shi 〒231-0868
Tel: 045-664-3434

You can read about some fun and bizarre novelty bars in Yokohama here.


Weird Watering Holes of Yokohama

October 15, 2007

Yokohama is Japan’s second biggest city, but it’s only 30 minutes from Tokyo by train, so most people hit the capital when they want to get utterly mashed and party on down. Yokohama does have a few of its own cool and unique bars and restaurants, though. Below are a list, in no special order, of my own personal favourite freaky hang-outs in Yokohama.

1: BAR LUTHER

First off, a Luther-Vandross-themed nightclub. How’s that for starters? Bar Luther is the best place near Yokohama station to dance like a sex-machine. The DJ spins classic 80s soul tunes courtesy of Prince, Hot Chocolate, and Vandross. There are even floor-to-ceiling mirrors and a disco ball. And all without a trace of irony. Groovy!
Read more about it here.

Info:
Tel: 0453148993
Bar Luther Homepage

2. CHARACTERS BAR

Looking more like a vintage toy emporium than a drinking hole, Characters, a self-styled “cafe/bar/fleamarket” offers the unique opportunity to drink while browsing for used toys.
Be careful if you get sloshed, or you might become overwhelmed by nostalgia and fork out a fortune for a Gremlins lunchbox or a Flintstones frisbee.
Read more about it here.

Info:
Characters Bar
Kikuya Bldg 1F
1-19 Ishikawa-cho, Naka-Ku,
Yokohama Shi 231-0826
Tel: (045) 6503080

3. THE AMAZON CLUB

The mysterious “Amazon Club” is an oddball eaterie which attempts to replicate the spirit of the secretive hideouts that US soldiers frequented in the fifties. It’s a dimly lit, cavernous place full of unusual and exotic decorative objects, like statues of Betty Boop and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and pickled snakes in laboratory jars.
Find out more here.

Info:
The Amazon Club
B1 Yokohama Bldg, 3-9 Kaigandori,
Naka-Ku, Yokohama-Shi 231-0002
Tel: 045 664 6101
Website: The Amazon Club

4: HONEY HONEY

Maid cafes aren’t only found in Akihabara, you know. Yokohama has it’s very own maid cafe, “Honey Honey,” a haven for geeks, where TV screens show cartoons, and nubile young ladies in French maid costumes draw pictures on your omelets with squeezy ketchup bottles. Don’t worry, they also sell beer.
You can read more about it here.

Here’s the “Honey Honey” homepage.

5: HALLOWEEN

You can go to this Halloween-themed cafe/bar all year round and act and dress like a weirdo without fear of reprimand. The music is classic Halloween tunes like Transylvania 6-5000 and Monster Mash, and the décor is all pumpkins and ghosts as you’d expect. Disappointingly there are none of the novelty cocktails (like “Dr Jeckyl’s Potion” or “Vampire’s Blood”) I’ve come to expect from these places, but the bar is still worth a visit for the novelty value, and presumably it’s good fun on October 31st.
Read a review here.

Tel: (045) 314-7856.

6: 3 BOZU CAFE

If a cave-based shrine to Frankenstein is your kind of place, you’ll like “3 Bozu Paradise”, a Frankenstein-themed joint hidden in the shadows down a dark side-street near Yokohama station. It’s an eerie eaterie that should please anyone who prefers Hellraiser to Hello-Kitty.
Kick back and have fun, under the leering gaze of a green reanimated corpse statue.
You can learn more here.

Info:
3 Bozu Paradise

Taiyou Building 1F, Minami Saiwai 2-20-12, Nishi-Ku, Yokohama City.
Open from 5pm to 4am
Tel: (04) 5320 3066