Stout on the 45th floor

<< 2007-06-30 15:57 >>

Tokyo city hall

In the skyscraper district of Shinjuku stands the famous Tokyo city hall. It's a huge modern building surrounding a circular plaza, with two giant towers rising on one side. The tops of the towers are studded with antennas, giving them a strange science-fiction look. At the top in one tower is an observation deck open to the public, and so we picked a day with clear skies to visit the tower and watch the view of the city from the top floor.

After queueing for 10 minutes we finally got into the express elevator, and emerged at the top. And the view was indeed impressive. When Wikipedia says that the Greater Tokyo Area has 35 million inhabitants it's just a number, but from the top of that tower you see what it really means. Densely packed, only interrupted by the occasional green carpet of a park, the city stretches to the horizon on all sides, seemingly infinite. We could see Tokyo Bay, and even Chiba on the far side of it. The only disappointment was that Mount Fuji was hidden in cloud. (In fact, despite having made three trips to Japan I still haven't seen it. I'm hoping to get lucky in December this year, since Naito-san tells me this is when the chances of seeing it are best.)

To get an impression of what we saw, here is a satellite view centered on Shinjuku, with (on my screen) Chiba just visible in the lower right corner. Ignore the arrow, since it points to the Imperial Palace district rather than Shinjuku.

There turned out to be an expensive-looking bar in there as well, and since we were tired it seemed like a good idea to sit down for a beer while enjoying the view. This was a fancy place with white table-cloths, tuxedoed waiters with white gloves, and seemed most of all like a restaurant. To my surprise they turned out to have more than the usual pale lager fare; they also had a beer called Gargery Stout on the menu, and since stouts are almost always good, this was an easy choice.

The view

The beer itself turns out to be brewed by a Kirin-associated company called beerStyle 21, and is a rather atypical stout, being somewhat acidic and slightly smoky. It still has the basic dark, burnt, licorice taste of a stout, but feels almost like a mix of Flemish red ale and stout. Anyway, it was definitely nice. I gave it 3.5 out of 5.

This was one of my best beer-tasting moments in Japan, sipping a good Japanese stout watching the sunset over Tokyo from the 45th floor. Highly recommended if you are ever in Tokyo.

Gargery stout

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Stian Prestholdt - 2007-07-01 16:52:00

I really liked that last picture. But was the glass separated from the cube-like thing in the bottom? Because it looks like its gonna tip over if it were like that.

Lars Marius - 2007-07-01 18:09:25

I wondered the same when drinking it, but it really is one piece of glass. Otherwise I think there would be many accidents when drinking Gargery... :)

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