Craft work: Mikkeller's Tokyo beer bar merges Scandinavian and Japanese tastes
The last couple of years have seen a boom in young, independent craft brewers in Japan. Smaller breweries and brands such as Hitachino Nest from Ibaraki and Coedo from Saitama have been leading the trend, but now even the big three (Asahi, Kirin and Suntory) are coming out with their own craft-ish limited editions (with Kirin going as far as opening two micro brewery restaurants under the 'Spring Valley Brewery' name).
Tapping into the craze (pardon the pun), Danish bar and brand Mikkeller has just opened its first bar in Tokyo's funky Udagawacho, near Shibuya Station. Twenty keg beers on tap, 15 of them Mikkeller's and the other five guest ales from likeminded Japanese breweries, means that you will never be bored (or thirsty). There is also a couple of Tokyo-specific beers on tap, such as the Udagawa Wie and Udagawa Spontan Ale. Local Japanese delicacies such as cured ham, cheese and pickles are also served should you feel peckish.
The bar is designed by Wakiko Fukuda (best known for the United Arrows UA Bar and Bar Zingaro), skillfully merges the best of Japanese and Scandinavian simplicity. The traditional Japanese cedar ceiling is perhaps the bar's defining feature. It sends a clear message that we are in Japan, but is softened by the retro Nordic furniture and light blue concrete flooring. DIY stools and tables are also available outside, making Mikkeller the perfect hangout for the whole neighbourhood.