I was naturally curious to see what an Oktoberfest would be like in Japan. Again, this was Tokyo flexing its international muscle and proving it can hang with the likes of other world cities like New York, London, or Paris. After spending a day in Odaiba, Tokyo, this seemed like the perfect place to cap off my afternoon adventure.
I stepped through the front gate into a fully packed beer garden of quixotic sights and smells, each one compelling you to tiptoe ever closer to experience just a little taste. The crowd was mostly Japanese with a smattering of foreigners roaming about, because when you’re in Asia and you want to see foreigners, all you have to do is be near the alcohol.
There were around a dozen alcohol stalls arranged in a circle around the courtyard, mostly offering a wide selection of German beers and German food, which was mainly sausages and sauerkraut. One thing that caught my eye was a plate of fried cheese with marmalade dip. My one regret was not trying that dish, but hey, as long as there’s an October, there will be an Oktoberfest.
After making a complete 360° of the ring of stalls, I decided to grab a dark wheat beer from Erdinger, though Warsteiner was a close second, if only just because of their kickass name. I paid ¥2000 for a 300 ml glass: ¥1000 for the beer (about $10 USD), and ¥1000 for the glass deposit, in case you’ve had one too many and literally can’t hold your beer. For a dark beer, it was predictably filling and surprisingly refreshing. It was one of those long days spent mostly on your feet where only beer, any beer, can quench your thirst and relieve all that is wrong with the world at that moment.
I paced slowly around the crowds, observing them, carefully sipping my beer and making sure not to spill a single drop of goodness. The organizers did their best to spike the festivities with a typical German flair, including blasting German folk music on loudspeakers and having girls in pigtails dressed up in stereotypical beer hall outfits, speaking Japanese nonetheless. The smiles and red faces in the crowd reminded me of how open Tokyoites are to participating in these kinds of international festivals, especially if they involve generous helpings of delicious food and alcohol. Overall, it was a great place to take in the scenery and have a decent beer among like-minded and fun loving volks.
Oktoberfest in Tokyo is running from now until October 12.