Sports Bars in TokyoArea Guide
Tokyo these days has a wealth of spots where you can cheer on a televised international sporting game while enjoying decent food and drink. From old-fashioned English pubs to contemporary Californian-style joints, here’s our guide to the best.
The FootNik in Ebisu is Tokyo’s original football pub: it began back in the ’90s (at its original location elsewhere in the city) by screening soccer matches mailed over from the UK on VHS tapes, in the days before live satellite broadcasts were common. Nowadays it shows football matches (and other sports including rugby, baseball, and occasionally sumo) live, often extending its closing time way into the small hours for important games, as well as offering a match special nomihoudai (all-you-can-drink plans). Missing out on a goal when nature calls isn’t a worry here, at least for men: the gent’s urinals each have a small built-in TV screen.
In nearby Shibuya are two English pubs, The Aldgate and The Hobgoblin, that both become authentically packed with devoted fans when screening football. The Aldgate, a narrow but comfortable space at the far end of Center-Gai, is run by an Anglophile Japanese gentleman whose skewed humor shows in the naming of his food dishes; some available to order, others ‘advertised’ but imaginary. ‘English Hooligan Mash Potato’ is real; the ‘Red Bull Ramen’ is thankfully but a joke.
The Hobgoblin meanwhile, a stone’s throw from the Mark City shopping center, is a spacious venue with multiple screens and authentic English pub food: its fish and chips is claimed to be Tokyo’s biggest.
Shinjuku offers both footie-focused English pubs and US-style sports bars. 82 Ale House is a pub chain run by the same company as ubiquitous chain The Hub, and offers a similar selection of beers and food for a slightly more mature customer. Of the locations scattered over town, we recommend the Shinjuku-sanchome branch for its open facade and al fresco standing tables that allow you to watch a game from outside.
Also in Shinjuku-sanchome is Lads Dining, a basement branch of a chain with a US-style sports bar vibe. Original highballs are the signature drink here, with varieties including maple syrup and honey citron. The Highbury over by Shinjuku Gyoen park is a football-focused pub named for the area of London that was originally home to Arsenal F.C. Bedecked with Arsenal memorabilia, it brews its own Gunners Ale and screens key UK and international matches.
Roppongi, Tokyo’s most international neighborhood, is home to Legends Sports Bar and Grill which is a popular place to watch both UK-style soccer and American football games. Multiple large screens, flanked by framed Maradona and Pele shirts, make for comfortable viewing, and Legends’ American cooking can also be enjoyed outside on a terrace.
Also in Roppongi is Two Dogs Taproom, a modern North California-inspired spot that offers its own craft beer alongside a lengthy list of brews sourced from across the US and Japan, and a restaurant menu that includes pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. A range of sports are shown, along with live music and comedy events.
Futbol Cerveceria Once, in Nakameguro, breaks the English pub monopoly on football-themed drinking and dining. This diner on Yamate-dori offers authentic Mexican cooking and bottled import beers, and has a small beer garden (mostly concrete apart from the potted cacti). Games are shown on big screens inside, with the atmosphere on match days (or nights given time differences) being more chilled than in Tokyo’s English pubs.
If watching football leaves you fired up and wanting to play, head to Dining Bar Cafe Typhoo in Kinshicho, east of sumo capital Ryogoku. Here the screens are complemented by table football where you can bring your best wrist flicks into play.