Watch the World Cup live in Shinjuku, Arakicho!

With the World Cup starting on Thursday you may be wondering where to watch live matches – read on
A team of Tadaima Japan writers, namely Anthony and myself, have combed the bars of Arakicho in the heart of Shinjuku city, in search of restaurants and bars where Russia 2018 World Cup matches can be seen on TV. From a football-loving nation myself, I realize just how exciting it is to catch your country’s team (or a country’s team you support) playing live. And it can be just as fun to watch it at home with friends and family, as with new people in a new place. Since all the places are restaurants and bars open at night, it is important to note that smoking is allowed everywhere.

Kick-off & First Half – H2 International Bar

The decoration says it all – football fans are welcome!

Located on the 2nd floor and overlooking the busy Shinjuku dori avenue, H2 International bar is open daily from 7pm to 5am. Since all matches broadcasts on Japanese TV (except one) start between 9pm and 3am, you are virtually guaranteed to see your favorite team playing (and hopefully winning) live. Apparently, the bar owner is also a football fan, so if a match goes into overtime, or even a penalty shootout, chances are the bar will remain open till the very end.

H2 also has multiple screens so no matter where you sit, you’ll be able to follow and cheer the action. It’s important to note that the bar also doubles as a karaoke, so you won’t always be able to hear the commentary and get the stadium atmosphere, unless of course everybody present is glued to the game and the volume gets turned up.

Finally, if it wasn’t already clear from the name, H2 is an international place with menus in English and English-speaking bartenders. The regulars like to hang out there for a chance to chat in English, so you will most likely be able to enjoy some football-related small talk with a local. Many sports words have katakana equivalents in Japanese (such as “goru” for goal and “penaruti” for penalty”) so you will be able to provide your own commentary with ease.

You can find Anthony’s full write-up on H2 International (with more photos and location information) here:

H2 International Bar: Connecting Shinjuku to the World

Half-Time and Second Half – American Mates Bar

The question mark after the 24:00 may suggest some flexibility with the closing time.

If you are looking for a quieter place to watch a nail-biting, high stakes, all-or-nothing match, American Mates bar, right on Sugidaimon dori street, may be just the place. A big-screen TV placed behind the bar allows you to turn around on your chair, cold beer in hand and get a close-up look at the strikes and tackles. You’ll be in an optimal position to call that play a foul (or not).

The main draw of American Mates is its wide selection of beers – a selection of 2 American and 2 Japanese draught beers, and a number of American and Japanese bottled beers. I can’t think of a more suitable beverage for late-night football viewing.

American Mates normally closes at midnight so not all games can be seen live, although since it opens at 3pm in the afternoon, it’s the ideal place to catch the earlier games starting at 8pm or 9pm. In fact why not enjoy some food with your beer? American Mates also has an American-themed food menu which includes familiar items such as a cheeseburger and a hotdog, both served with great-tasting crispy fries. The owner is a fan of all sports including football. His passion though is rugby, as will be obvious once you walk into the place, so this will also be a great place to watch the Rugby 2019 World Cup.

You can find Anthony’s full write-up on American Mates (with more photos and location information) here:

American Bar & Cafe Mates: A Fusion of Western Culture in Araki-Cho

Extra Time and Penalty Shootout – AMS+

Anthony enjoying some shochu on the rocks.

Another great location for a quieter viewing experience is the bar AMS+, situated on Gaienhigashi Dori Avenue and on the 2nd floor of the building next to Motsuyaki Nonki – if you look up from the street outside, you can just about make out the TV through the window. Upon entering you’ll find yourself in a small room that feels like someone’s living room  – the bar with the TV is hidden behind it so make sure you get one of the seats there.

AMS+ has seems to have the largest TV screen we have seen so far in our research, and due to its judicious positioning, all seats have a great view of the action. We happened to be there during the World Cup warmup match Japan vs Paraguay, and we didn’t miss a single goal (final score 4-2 for Japan). AMS+ is open from 8pm to 5am daily, so it is also the ideal place to view middle of the night World Cup matches.

As for drinks, AMS+ has Heineken beer on tap and the usual selection of bar drinks. However I recommend going for the Shochu (Japanese whisky) if you want to have something typically Japanese. The bartender can also cook a number of light dishes in case you’re feeling peckish – we had a very tasty “moyashi” (bean sprouts) with kimchi. If you feel like eating a full meal, how about going to Nonki for some grilled meat before or after the match?  

You can find David’s full write-up on AMS+ (with more photos and location information) here:

AMS+, A bar that feels like home

The Final Whistle – Japanese time schedule and broadcasters

Ready for the kickoff?

There is one more location with a TV for viewing football games which we we lacked time to research for this article: Bar Bond (their Facebook page) on the 4th floor on Sugidaimon Dori Street. They are open daily from 8pm to 5am and there is a 500 yen table charge. They also double as a karaoke place.

In case you don’t have all the dates and kickoff times of your must-see matches memorized yet, the official FIFA website has a list of all matches with local times  – you’ll need to select “Japan” in the top right corner next to “Show Broadcaster for”. All matches start between 7pm and 4am Japanese times.

If you look below each broadcast time, you’ll see the logo of the Japanese broadcasting channel – it’s kind of small so you’ll need to click / tap on it to go to the main screen for the match, then click on the “Watch on” box on the top left of the screen. The corresponding TV channels for each broadcaster are as follows (TV in Japanese is pronounced as “terebi”):

NHK is channel 1 or 2

Nihon TV is channel 4

TV Asahi is channel 5

TBS is channel 6

Fuji TV is channel 8

Since you are in Japan, I’d also recommend catching at least one of the 3 Japanese group matches since it is bound to be a fun experience. The schedule for the Japanese team is:

Tuesday June 19 Japan vs Colombia – Kickoff 9pm

Sunday June 25 Japan vs Senegal – Kickoff Midnight

Thursday June 28 Japan vs Poland – Kickoff 11pm

Finally, it is interesting to note that in Japanese, World Cup can also be written “W杯”, the kanji used for counting drinks but taken here to mean “cup” (the actual pronunciation is different). For example “kanpai” (cheers) is written 乾杯 and “ippai” (one drink) 一杯.  This just goes to show that there is a definitely a drinking theme associated with the World Cup!   

A Czech Japanese supporter during the 2010 World Cup

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Writer / Translator

I’ve been in Japan for over 10 years although it feels shorter because I am constantly discovering new things and new places. Sometimes it can be hard to get the full Japanese experience because of cultural differences and linguistic barriers. For that reason, I want to share what I have learned in order to enhance your experience in Japan. Having said that, figuring out stuff on your own can also be fun. In any case, I hope you can find here whatever you need in order to make your stay a success.