Raise a toast at Yokohama's Oktoberfest, one of the best in Japan

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Hundreds of people enjoy German beer and food during Yokohama Oktoberfest. The annual festival runs through Oct. 16. More than 130 types of beer are available. Tyler Hlavac/Stars and Stripes
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Hundreds of people enjoy German beer and food during Yokohama Oktoberfest. The annual festival runs through Oct. 16. More than 130 types of beer are available. Tyler Hlavac/Stars and Stripes

Raise a toast at Yokohama's Oktoberfest, one of the best in Japan

by: Tyler Hlavac | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: October 11, 2016

Oktoberfest’s transformation from a Bavarian tradition to a global phenomenon will be clear to visitors to Yokohama, Japan, this month.

Yokohama Oktoberfest, which runs through Oct. 16 beside the oceanfront Red Brick Warehouse shopping complex, isn’t the only Oktoberfest event in Japan, but it’s one of the best. It began in 2003 and drew a record 165,000 visitors last year.

Yokohama has its share of craft brewers who use Oktoberfest as an opportunity to display their products. Whatever your beer preference, from lagers to ales and stouts, this festival has you covered.

More than 130 types of beer are available. Although Japanese beers are on tap, most of the brews are German.

Some of the beer is high-end, including ales from the centuries-old Tucher and Riegele breweries, but there are also plenty of affordable brews for those who prize volume over taste.

Those wishing to sample beer and enjoy a variety of tastes can purchase flights, while those wanting to indulge can order a beer-boot stein or larger sizes likely meant to be shared.

The food at Oktoberfest is also worth checking out. German favorites such as sausages, pretzels, sauerkraut, onion rings, mashed potatoes, Eisbein (pig knuckle) and Rinderbraten (beef roast) are meticulously prepared. One vendor is supervised by a high-ranking German “ham master.”

Food and beverage prices vary by vendor, but we paid 2,200 yen (about $22) for a flight of beer and 3,000 yen (about $30) for a sausage plate with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. Smaller food items, such as pretzels, cost between 400 and 500 yen.

The atmosphere is carnival-like, with the beer and food served around a main stage and seating underneath a tent. The tent is much hotter and more crowded than outside seating, but hosts much of the action.

Vendors are everywhere, often clad in Oktoberfest garb and hawking their products to anyone who will listen.

A German folk band performs throughout the day, urging participants to raise their glasses for a toast. When things get especially rowdy, band members leave the stage and start a dance line.

Best of all, Oktoberfest might be the only time someone can use chopsticks to eat German food without looking out of place.

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