Did you know there’s an 87-year-old beer hall in the swanky shopping neighborhood in Tokyo known as Ginza? It’s in the Ginza Lion Building, which is considered such an important part of Ginza history and culture that it was just designated as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan.
Japan’s designation of Cultural Properties, which includes both tangible objects like artwork and buildings and intangible objects like the performing arts, is a method of preserving its cultural heritage and historic assets. These properties are administered by the Agency of Cultural Affairs, which designates the property as a Cultural Property and offers protection and support of the asset.
The Ginza Lion Building was built in 1934 and has seen Japan through quite a lot of history. It’s most famous for its beer hall, which was opened on the first floor on April 8, 1934 by Dainippon Beer, Inc. Though many beer halls in Tokyo were destroyed in air raids during World War II, the Ginza Lion Building managed to survive, and after the war, in September 1945, its drinking hall was requisitioned as a beer hall for the occupying forces. In January of 1952, the beer hall reopened to the general public and has been in operation (under different ownership) ever since.
The Ginza Nanachome Beer Hall Lion, as it’s now known, is now the oldest beer hall in Japan, and though the kitchens and other amenities have been modernized, the interior of the hall is mostly the same as it was when it was originally built.
▼ The beer hall at the time of construction
It was decorated with great extravagance for the time with the theme of “abundant harvests.” Inside you can find motifs of barley and grapes decorating the space, giving it a feel of plentifulness. It almost feels like a dining hall during the renaissance
Of note is the large-scale glass mosaic behind the bar, which depicts women harvesting barley to make beer. In the center of the mosaic is a depiction of an acanthus flower, which symbolizes peace and love.
Enormous arrow-shaped pillars are meant to symbolize barley, and the round, bubble-like light fixtures imitate the bubbles of beer and the shapes of grapes.
Adding to the sense of grandeur are two large fountains on either side of the bar counter, which are no longer in operation due to the age of the building, but which are stunning nonetheless. The interior walls of the room are made of red brick, which gives the place an even greater sense of extravagance. These unique interior design elements earned the praise of many at the time of their creation, including noted architects.
Currently, the Ginza Lion building contains not only a beer hall, but also a beer and wine grill on the second floor, an izakaya on the third floor, a Japanese restaurant and bar on the fourth floor, and party space on the sixth floor (which was once used as an office space). The beer hall, however, is widely regarded as the most beloved part of the old building.
▼ The event space, known as the “Classic Hall”
▼ It has also been preserved in its original form (pictured below).
This year marked the Ginza Lion building’s 87th anniversary, so perhaps the fact that the locals have appreciated the beer hall for almost 90 years was surely a factor in its designation as a Tangible Cultural Property, which will now allow it to be preserved for many more years to come.
If you find yourself looking for a place full of history to enjoy a beer after shopping, then definitely stop by this treasured Ginza beer hall for a memorable time.
Beer Hall Information
Beer Hall Lion Ginza Nanchome-ten / ビヤホールライオン 銀座七丁目店
Tokyo-to Chuo-ku Ginza 7-9-20 Ginza Lion Building 1F
東京都中央区銀座7－9－20 銀座ライオンビル 1F
Open: 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Mon-Sat), 11:30 a.m. to 1o p.m. (Sundays & holidays)
Source, images: PR Times
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