Long awaited beer gardens start at commercial facilities in Sapporo

Customers enjoying the beer garden at the nORBESA commercial facility

As the height of summer approaches, beer gardens are starting to open on the rooftops and terraces of commercial facilities in the city of Sapporo. Due to measures to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus, the traditional summertime ‘Sapporo Odori Beer Garden’ has been cancelled, but smaller-scale events with reduced seating capacities and other anti-infection measures are opening at commercial facilities and hotels. Some facilities are taking advantage of the outdoors by erecting tents to prevent contact between groups of customers.

“It feels good to drink outside. The times are limited but it’s good that they are open this year,” said two smiling colleagues from the hospitality industry who raised their glasses on the rooftop of the nORBESA commercial facility in Chuo-ku, Sapporo.

The nORBESA venue has reduced its normal capacity of approximately 750 seats to around 550, to eliminate crowding as much as possible. The facility also opened amid the Coronavirus pandemic last year, but attendance was 10% down on the previous year. “The lack of demand from overseas visitors and gatherings such as welcome and goodbye parties is damaging, but the most important thing is to stop infections from occurring,” says the general manager of the venue’s operating company OLIVE’S.

At the Sapporo Department Store, in addition to the usual second-floor terrace beer garden, a new rooftop venue has also been established this year. Instead of normal seating, tents have been erected in part of the venue, creating a camp-like atmosphere in which families and the like can enjoy meals without coming into contact with other customers.

Each beer garden is usually open until sometime between 9 and 11 p.m. but during the period of quasi-emergency Covid measures, alcohol will be served until 7 p.m. before closing at 8. Establishments hope “customers enjoy themselves while taking precautions to prevent infection.”