Danchi kitchen is a new place opened up in Nishi Urawa and is a community project with, I believe, some funding from the local government behind it. The place is a cafe, shared kitchen and brewery. For those who don’t know, danchi is the name for the blocks of public housing in Japan, normally dating from the 50’s 60’s or 70’s. The name has in recent years come to have negative connotations, evoking a feeling of aging buildings, aging residents, isolation, poverty and a lack of amenities. In case you were thinking I suddenly seem to have become knowledgable, I’ve taken most of these details from Wikipedia, but was aware of the image of danchi before I did this minimal research. With all this in mind, it’s very nice that there are efforts to make this particular danchi more inviting by investing money to both provide local residents with something to enjoy, as well as perhaps draw people in to visit the area and perhaps change their impression of danchi. By the way, I previously wrote about Gahaha Beer on here and that is also a danchi based brewery. I think it’s a great thing that we can drink beer made in these kinds of areas. There are many things about craft beer in Japan that have become quite uniform and uninspiring recently. For many new breweries it seems that the goal is to jump on the bandwagon and make some money. In this case, the goal is for the brewery to add something to the area. An idea which can only be applauded. Anyway, enough of the moralising and cribbed from Wikipedia history and on with what you need to know.
- Newly opened and newly constructed (at least the interior, possibly the whole building). It’s bright and spacious with plenty of seating. It’s a cafe, so you wait at your table and they come and take your order. When you’ve finished, take the little receipt clipboard thing up to the counter to pay. As well as the beer there is a food menu, (I really liked the pickles), and plenty of other drinks, lots of which are non-alcoholic as you’d expect from a community cafe, I guess. There is a communal kitchen next to the cafe space where they do cooking classes and at the back there is the brewery.
- Three taps of their own beer, made on site. When I was there they were a pale ale, brown ale and a porter. I’d say they were all British influenced, in that they were easy drinking and approachable even for people who might not know anything other than macro beer. But that sounds like I’m underselling them! I thought they were really nice and particularly enjoyed the subtlety of the brown ale. Beers are served in two sizes, 350ml and 150ml and were all ¥700 for the larger and ¥400 for the smaller, so it’s a very affordable place to drink. I’ve heard there is an IPA coming soon and I guess this too will reflect the tastes of the brewer and have a British feel to it. They also now have a beer flight.
- No cover charge, and plenty of daytime opening (but beware, beers are only served from 14:00), but not much evening opening and also closed on Sunday, so you should check their hours before you go. I didn’t find WiFi.
It’s definitely in a location that’s not on many people’s usual route. Nishi Urawa is on the Musashino Line which seems to be one that’s useful for commuters but probably not that useful for pub crawlers. However, I’d say that it is definitely worth a visit. The small tap list means that it’s perfectly possible to pop in and drink all of their beers and then move on to your next stop. The early closing is a bit of shame, but I guess that attracting drinkers from all over Kanto isn’t exactly the main focus of their business plan. I heard that they will supply some local bars and restaurants with their beer but aren’t really going to be trying to distribute it outside of their immediate area. So, if you’re keen to check out their beer, then this is the place to come. I would suggest that it would make a good stop for an Urawa pub crawl, but it seems that the few Urawa bars there are are all spread out at different stations, so maybe attempting a crawl like that isn’t the easiest of matters. I think it’s definitely worth a visit though. Nishi Urawa is one stop from Musashi Urawa and two stops from Minami Urawa, so you have easy links to both the Saikyo and Keihin Tohoku lines that way. Maybe some might find the beers a bit subtle for their tastes, but I liked it and will be back soon. And for once, I really mean that as I have my next trip there lined up for next week.
Japanese breweries on tap when I visited:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday 11:00-20:00 (beer from 14:00)
Closed Wednesday & Sunday
桜区田島 6-1−20, Saitama-shi, Saitama-ken