Stuck in the heart of Tokyo’s blistering heat island, it’s essential to know where to rehydrate. Everyone has their own favorite watering holes around the city. But those who live or work anywhere near Tokyo Tower swear there’s none better in the area than Rise & Win.

Or, to give its official title: Rise & Win Brewing Co. Kamikatz Taproom. It’s an impressive name, one that comes with an equally impressive story. It also boasts a mellow, easygoing ambience and, most importantly, some excellent brews and food.

Rise & Win beer is made in the small town of Kamikatsu (aka Kamikatz), Tokushima Prefecture, a community that’s become internationally renowned for embracing a zero-waste policy, despite its remote location in the mountains of Shikoku. That philosophy is built into the actual architecture of the brewery, with its towering front wall made from repurposed windows.

A similar motif is incorporated into the back wall of the Tokyo taproom, as well as its mix-and-match use of secondhand furniture and chandeliers of recycled glass. Customers are also encouraged to use growlers to take home draft beer, instead of buying disposable bottles.

From Tokushima to Tokyo: Rise & Win offers eight taps of its own beers, or sometimes guest brewery offerings. | ROBBIE SWINNERTON
From Tokushima to Tokyo: Rise & Win offers eight taps of its own beers, or sometimes guest brewery offerings. | ROBBIE SWINNERTON

Unlike many of Tokyo’s craft beer pubs, Rise & Win offers a modest eight taps of its own beers. These include the session-strength Pale Ale; Leuven White, a light, easy-drinking witbier; and the rich, dark Bikini Line stout, brewed with cacao nibs, coconut and pecan. You may find the occasional guest beer, too, and a tie-up with Kanagawa Prefecture’s Barbaric Works is being planned soon.

But it’s the ambitious food menu that makes Rise & Win worth seeking out and then staying the evening. Besides the regular menu of pulled pork, wagyu burgers, pasta and barbecue — the house special is roasted Awa Sudachi-dori, a juicy breed of free-range chicken plumped up with the powdered peel of sudachi, Tokushima’s signature citrus — there is also a list of specials that change weekly.

Whether you go for sashimi, yakitori or yakisoba noodles with smoky homemade bacon, or prefer more Western fare — prosciutto with cheese, Napolitan pasta, grilled lamb loin burger — the quality goes well beyond the caliber of typical taproom pub grub.

Now that the worst of the summer weather is over, outside seating is finally coming into its own. Yes, the tables look right out onto the street, but at night the traffic quietens down and there’s usually a good breeze. And nothing beats the sight of Tokyo Tower rising high above your head.

So why the unusual name? Kamikatsu/Kamikatz is written with kanji characters that can mean “rise” and “win.” It’s both aspirational and auspicious. And totally apt for this prime location.

Lunch from ¥1,000; dinner a la carte; beer from ¥680; beer takeout available; smoking allowed outside; Japanese/English menu; some English spoken

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.

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