You might not expect Canadian beer, hockey on the big screen and a warm homey atmosphere in the middle of the teen-trend capital Shibuya, or anywhere in Tokyo for that matter.

But that is precisely why Stuart Bowie decided to create Tokyo’s only Canadian Sports bar and grill, The Maple Leaf.

“There needed to be something different than a British pub,” he said. “Having a Canadian-style pub with a sports theme seemed like a good idea.”

The walls are covered with pieces of logs and Canadian kitsch taken straight from the Bowie family attic back home, including his ice skates, hockey sticks and snowshoes.

Bowie was a salesman living in Tokyo about three years ago and began fantasizing about opening a bar. He opened with no experience and just eight months of planning. It’s been popular since, with Canadians of course, but also with customers from other nations.

Happy hour drink prices, a full Canadian food menu and friendly ambiance keep customers coming back.

“It’s a nice atmosphere, the guys working here are very friendly,” said Blake Cheslock, who recently found the Maple Leaf via the Internet after just a month of living in Japan. “Someone always wants to talk. You can meet some foreigners.”

The bar holds live events such as comedy nights on the last Sunday of every month and concerts featuring local Canadian acts. Hockey, soccer and rugby are shown regularly on the TVs, and many Canadian organizations meet there.

Every evening of the week, a crowd gathers for Canadian and other beers and some unique drink specialties — Canadian Russian (a white Russian with maple syrup) and a Canadian cocktail made with grenadine.

But the place is also famous for its food — much of it imported from Canada. If you’ve ever wanted to try poutine, Canadian French fries with cheese curd and gravy, this might be your only chance in Japan.

It also has a charbroiler, allowing sublime ribs and amazing burgers.

After all that eating and drinking, an arcade machine offers 200 classic video games, including the original Pac-Man.

The pub seats about 70 and is open from 11:30 a.m. (for lunch) to last call at about 1:30 a.m. every day.

It’s about a 10-minute walk from Shibuya station in Tokyo. From Hachiko plaza, take the street to the right of the large Starbucks. Take the first left at Seibu Department Store and stay right at the fork in the road ahead. Take the first right up a hill and it’s on the right, across from Parco III, on the fourth floor.

As always, if you drink, do so responsibly. Don’t drink and drive.

The Maple Leaf Canadian Sports Bar & Grill

Rating: 5½ beers out of a six-pack

Drink prices: About 700 yen for bottled beer; 900 for tap

Cover: None

Food: Full charbroil menu, sandwiches, snacks

Entertainment: Sports and live performances

Clientele: Young and old, all nationalities

Dress: Casual

Location: Kokusai Building 4F, Shibuya, Tokyo

Phone: 03-5784-6778


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