Food Nightlife Tokyo Walking

Beers in the Park, Hitachino Edition

I’ve often described how I enjoy drinking beers while out and about — street beers, yo — and since the closure of the Minami-Ikebukuro Park a few years ago, my main outlet in the ‘Bukes has been Ikebukuro West Gate Park. It’s more of a gathering place than a park, but it’s fun in part because of the “characters” it tends to attract. The routine is usually just to grab a few brews at the nearby combini (Sankusu, if you must know), but the other night my hometown friend Julie — in town for a month on a visit — invited me for a degustation in the park. When I met up with her, I was greeted with a Seibu department store bag filled with a few selections from the Ibaraki-brewed Hitachino Nest Beer. It was a great time, and I’m always a proponent of mixing high class (the beers) with low class (the spot) — and the cups we were drinking from were purchased at a nearby 100 yen shop.

The photo above of me was taken by Julie, and the rest, by me, cover our selections, and the park itself. The beers themselves were pretty much all great, except for the “Ginger Ale” brew, which was a bit rough (and 8%) — it’s worth noting that it’s also the only with a silly label, featuring some sort of crazy mascot.

Food Meta

Tron Light Cyle in Ikebukuro West Gate Park

Patrick Macias — editor-in-chief of Otaku USA magazine, among MANY other things — has been in town for the past couple weeks, and he dropped by my neck of the woods the other day for a bit of Ikebukuro flavor. I wanted to start with some tonkatsu spaghetti at Nobu but it was unfortunately closed, so we ended up getting tonkotsu ramen at Ippudo. That done, it was time for a few beers out on the street, and since Patrick requested a good place for people watching, we of course had to go and hang out at Ikebukuro West Gate Park.

If you’re not familiar with Ikebukuro — which you shouldn’t really be — in past decades it has had a reputation as one of the “rougher” parts of town, and although that has changed a lot in the past decade, the west side of the station remains the more, ahem, raw part of town. So hanging out at the park — a park with barely any trees mind you — we were treated to a lively show, including the Tron light cycle dude you can barely see in this video, shot with my iPhone 4.

As I was tweeting that night, the guy was amazing, making rounds around the park, occasionally stopping to “service” his blue-lit bike, walking around with quite the swagger. Also, he was wearing a full-body workman’s uniform, and his facial expressions as he rode close to us were priceless. Oh, an the lights, they automatically light up as he starts going, powered by motion. Here’s hoping he’s there again the next time I’m in the area.