Japanese people enjoy going out to eat and drink. And summer time is a perfect excuse to go all exotic and try something new. So, they have invented the Japanese idea of beergardens, which are often – due to a certain lack of space on the ground – rooftop affairs on large tall buildings.

I just came home from an outing to the beergarden (biagaaden as they write it in Katakana) on top of the Takashimaya department store in Kyoto. It was a nomi-hodai (all you can drink) and tabe-hodai (all you can eat) event, where you pay a fixed price (women 3200 YEN, men 3500 YEN) and then you can, well, eat and drink as much as you like within the time frame: last orders were at 9:30 and the place closed down at 10 pm.

The ambience could have been better, there were long rows of plastic tables and chairs on a part of the roof without aircondition outlets. Unfortunately it was not possible to get close to any edge of the building to look over the city, but when we arrived there was a quite spectacular sunset, almost on eye-height. Afterwards, some blue fairy lights were lit, and the atmosphere became a little less drab, but still a far cry from the real setting.

There was a large food buffet in the centre with mostly meat – even barbequeued – but there were also Udon noodles, some potatoes and veggies and a little bit of fruit as desert. And then there was the beer, apparently even a type especially imported from Germany. I don’t drink beer, so I cannot say which one, or even discuss differences to Japanese beer, I’m afraid. I was happy about the fact that they had divided the drinks counter into “beer only” and “all the rest”, but the soft drinks became more popular later in the evening, so this was quickly crowded too.

I enjoyed the evening, but I have to admit that I overindulged in the food… There is always something new to try, something more to have. I have to get used to the fact that I am not on holidays, that there will be many more opportunities to try everything – and that that will take quite a while anyway.