Hiruzake: The Pastime of Daytime Drinking in Tokyo



Hiruzake: The Pastime of Daytime Drinking in Tokyo


If there's one thing that Tokyo doesn't lack it's drinking establishments. From tiny watering holes to exclusive cocktail bars, nightlife in Tokyo has something for everyone. While most bars and pubs open in the late afternoon or night, sometimes you just feel like kicking back with a cold one in the middle of the day. There's even a word for this in Japanese: hiruzake (literally "noon booze").

What with Tokyo's seemingly infinite number of food and drink establishments, it's not hard at all to get a drink earlier in the day. Not to mention the 24-hour open convenience stores at every corner selling all kinds of drinks. However, some areas in city have a higher concentration of places where one can indulge in some good old hiruzake, and that's what we're going to show you in this article.

Here are a few places in Tokyo that are great for daytime drinking! 

Asakusa Hoppy Street

Asakusa Hoppy Street

Nestled in one of Tokyo's most visited districts is Hoppy Street. This approximately 80m long stretch of road west of Senso-ji Temple is lined with colorful izakaya (Japanese style bars). Most of them have inside and outside seats (even in winter), which makes for a festive atmosphere and is very tempting for passers-by.
Asakusa Hoppy Street

The usual crowd is a mix of foreign and Japanese tourists, as well as a good number of elderly locals. A lot of seniors that bet on the horse races nearby are regulars here, which makes the place feel less touristy and more authentic.
Asakusa Hoppy Street, drinking Hoppy

The road takes its name from a drink called Hoppy, a carbonated drink that sort of tastes like beer. It is enjoyed by mixing it with shochu. This beverage was popular in Tokyo around the 50s as a cheap alternative to beer, since most people couldn't afford it. Nowadays it has seen a revival in Tokyo. The two most common versions of Hoppy are white and black.
Red Hoppy and Nikomi in Asakusa Hoppy Street

There is also a much more rare one called the red Hoppy or officially "55 Hoppy". Hoppy Street is the best place to try it as most places have it here. Some even offer Hoppy on tap, which I have never seen anywhere else!

Hoppy Street also used to be known as nikomi (stew) street. Almost all places will have some variation of nikomi, usually beef tendons with vegetables or tofu. I recommend hopping from bar to bar and trying a couple of different versions.


Hoppy Street | ホッピー通り
Access: 5 min. walk from Asakusa Station on the Toei Asakusa Line, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line and Tobu Skytree Line
2 min. walk from Asakusa Station on the Tsukuba Express

Yurakucho Gado-Shita

Yurakucho Gado-Shita

People in Tokyo love putting things under the train tracks. This is especially true in the area between the stations of Shimbashi and Yurakucho, where drinking and eating establishments are crammed into every available space. Themes go from nostalgic Showa Era style bars to fancy Italian restaurants, but regardless of the genre you'll find plenty of places for an early day drink.
Yurakucho Gado-Shita

Make sure you take some time to explore. Every place has a unique style, with colorful signs and lanterns outside. All kinds of inviting smells come from every door.
Beer at Yurakucho Gado-Shita

There are a lot of offices in the area, so this is a favorite place for salarymen to get a quick lunch or relax after a long day of work. To remind you that you're under the tracks, every few minutes the whole place you're in will shake with the vibrations from the trains passing above you.
Beer and yakitori at Yurakucho Gado-Shita

Every place here offers different food. If you're overwhelmed, you can't go wrong with the classic yakitori (grilled chicken skewers). You can usually order a mixed set, they are cheap and go great with a glass of cold beer!


Yurakucho Gado-Shita | 有楽町ガード下
Access: Short walk from Yurakucho Station on the JR Line and Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line
Short walk from Shimbashi Station on the JR Line, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Toei Asakusa Line and Yurikamome Line
8 min. walk from Ginza Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Hibiya Line and Marunouchi Line

Akabane Ichibangai

Akabane Ichibangai and surroundings

In the northern part of Tokyo, right at the border with the prefecture of Saitama lies Akabane. Easily reachable from Ikebukuro and Shinjuku yet semi-unknown to the tourists, this district is packed with restaurants and drinking establishments with a more laid back, countryside-like atmosphere. In the area around Ichibangai Street it's not rare to see people enjoying a drink even before lunch time. Some places even have a sign outside saying that noon drinks are OK.
Around Akabane Ichibangai

Akabane is a homely district and the locals are a friendly bunch. A lot of people seem to know each other and sometimes it feels like the whole place is a big family.
Drinks in Akabane

The traditional izakaya style bar is predominant here, but you'll also find wine bars, standing bars, ramen joints, international restaurants and more. The crowd is varied, with a nice mix of old and young. The atmosphere is more relaxed than the hectic central Tokyo.
Sake and Oden in Akabane

All you have to do is walk around and pick whatever place catches your fancy. Sake, beer, wine, cocktails, the selection is virtually infinite!


Akabane Ichibangai | 赤羽一番街
Access: short walk from JR Akabane Station's East Exit
Website (Japanese-only):

Other Places to Go for Hiruzake

Of course these are just some of my favorites. There are a lot more great places for daytime drinking in Tokyo. Here are two bonus ones.

Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho

Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho

A tiny narrow alley next to  JR Shinjuku Station's West Exit. Very picturesque, it looks like it came out of an old Japanese movie. Some places are open from 7:00 a.m. or even 24 hours!


Shinjuku Omoide Yokocho | 新宿思い出横丁
Access: short walk from JR Shinjuku Station (MAP)
Website (machine-translated English only):

Ueno Ameyoko

Ueno Ameyoko

This very lively street in Ueno is home to many izakaya that open early. Try walking around the whole area from Ueno to Okachimachi Station.


Ameyoko | アメ横
Access: short walk from JR Ueno Station (MAP)
Website (Japanese-only):



Hiruzake can be a lot of fun every once in a while. Sometimes you just want to take it easy and enjoy the daylight without a hurry. As an added bonus, most places tend to be less crowded and cheaper during the day. It's also a way to experience a different atmosphere and meet different people than at night. After all, it's part of enjoying the Tokyo lifestyle.

*The above article is based on information from January 2020.
*Prices, business hours and other information in this article are subject to change.

About the Author
Laura is an Italian living and working in Tokyo. She loves exploring hidden and unknown places, taking pictures and listening to Punk Rock music. When she’s not busy doing the above, she might enjoy a craft beer or play the sanshin (an Okinawan instrument similar to a shamisen).

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