Do you love beer? We here at RocketNews24 certainly do! And fortunately, there’s no shortage of tasty beer in Japan. But where can you go if you want to learn a little bit more about the cold, refreshing drink as well as drink it? The first place that comes to mind may be Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, where Sapporo Breweries have their Sapporo Beer Garden and Sapporo Beer Museum. To be sure, visiting the Sapporo Beer Museum for an educational tour and then hopping over to the Beer Garden next-door for some delicious Genghis Khan (lamb or mutton) barbecue can definitely be a wonderful experience, but what if you’re not in Hokkaido, which usually is a little out of the way for visitors to Japan.
Well, there’s actually a facility you can visit in central Tokyo that may be of interest to beer lovers. It’s called the Museum of Yebisu Beer, located near Ebisu (or Yebisu, either spelling is possible) Station within the Yebisu Garden Place complex. I actually found it quite by accident a few days ago and was pleasantly surprised after taking a look. Here’s what you can see at the museum… and yes, you can drink and taste as well!
Yebisu Beer, a 100-percent malt beer that is now made and distributed by Sapporo Breweries, is a brand that has been around for a very long time and has many devoted fans in Japan. The museum, though, is a relatively new facility, having opened in 2010. It is located somewhat inconspicuously behind the Mitsukoshi Department Store in the Yebisu Garden Place, and while it is not a huge museum with a large number of items on exhibit, entrance is free, and it should be a fun little place to visit, especially if you like beer.
▼This is the entrance to the museum
▼Two giant cans of Yebisu beer greet you at the door
▼The floor of the entrance door is designed like a coaster
▼There is a large artistic display made of Yebisu beer cans near the entrance
▼A statue of the Yebisu god, also displayed near the entrance — the beer shares its name with this traditional Japanese god of luck and protector of fishermen
▼This is what the museum looks like from up high
▼See the large picture of the Yebisu god on the carpet in the picture above? Well, apparently you’re not supposed to step on his image on the carpet out of respect to the god, as explained on this sign placed next to the carpet
▼They have a gift shop selling quite a variety of souvenirs
▼If you’re serious about enjoying your beer, they sell special beer glasses at the shop. The taller glass on the left is priced at 1,800 yen (US$17) and the slightly rounded, shorter glass on the right costs 3,000 yen ($29).
▼These cute Yebisu dolls sell for 1,500 yen ($14)
▼And this is what the exhibit area is like. You can learn about the history of Yebisu Beer and how it has its origins in German beer.
▼Memorabilia and attractive posters are on display
▼A poster commemorating the “revival” of Yebisu Beer — the beer went out of production during World War II, but made a come back in 1971 by popular demand
▼These retro posters from the 1930s definitely look attractive even today
▼This is what a box containing a dozen bottles of beer from 1972 looked like
▼Yebisu Beer also appears in manga. This is from the long-running cooking/gourmet comic Oishinbo , in which Yebisu Beer is described as a classy beer made from quality ingredients.
▼Yebisu Beer even makes an appearance in Neon Genesis Evangelion as Misato Katsuragi’s drink of choice.
▼Once you’ve seen enough of the exhibits, you can head on to the tasting area
▼It was Sunday afternoon, so there was a bit of a crowd
▼They had some special Christmas items on offer: a sweet beer cocktail called Sweet Noel and also a dessert plate with ice cream and crepe covered with strawberry or chocolate sauce
▼This is the regular beer menu. You need to buy a “Yebisu coin” to order a beer, and they all cost one coin, which you can purchase for 400 yen ($3.80).
▼And this is the food menu, mostly light bites and snacks to go with your beer. The food items are priced at either one or two Yebisu coins
▼You buy the coins from this vending machine before ordering
▼Once you place your order at the counter, they will give you a coaster specifically for the beer that you ordered. The one I received was illustrated with the image of the Yebisu god, with the question “What kind of god is Yebisu?” written underneath.
▼Turn over the coaster, and you’ll see the answer to the question, an explanation that Yebisu is the god considered to bring luck in business and fishing, as well as bountiful harvest. The god’s smiling face is said to bring good cheer to those who look upon him.
▼Once you show your coaster at the serving counter, the efficient staff will pour you your fresh cold drink
▼I ordered the Sweet Noel, a sweet, coffee-flavored beer cocktail with a taste slightly similar to a caramel latte. You can add the strong coffee liqueur (35% alcohol content) served on the side according to your preference
▼Mmm … look at that yummy-looking foam. The beer cocktail was sweet and light, with very little hint of the characteristic bitterness of beer.
▼They also have guided tours (available only in Japanese, unfortunately) which ends in a beer tasting seminar like the one below
I didn’t have time to go on the guided tour, but it costs 500 yen ($4.80) per person, and there are two tours each hour on weekdays and three on weekends between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., plus one tour after 5 p.m. both weekdays and weekends. If you’re planning on taking the tour on the weekend or during a busy tourist period, you may want to book a few days in advance by phone.
So, we hope you enjoyed our introduction of the Yebisu Museum of Beer. It just seemed like a nice little place to share with our readers, especially since you can end your visit there with a tasty glass of beer. Now, wouldn’t it be grand if all educational experiences were so pleasant?
[Access and Contact Info]
Museum of Yebisu Beer
Open: 11:00 to 19:00, closed Mondays (Tuesday if Monday is a public Holiday)
Tel (Inquiries and Tour Reservations): 03-5423-7255 (+81-3-5423-7255 from overseas)
Address: Yebisu Garden Place, 4-20-1 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku,Tokyo
(about five minutes walk from JR Ebisu Station and subway Hibiya Line Ebisu Station)