Tokyo hosts Germany’s legendary beer festival
Tokyo hosts its interpretation of Germany’s legendary beer festival, Oktoberfest. Traditionally this folk celebration runs in Munich for 3 weeks from the end of September into the first week of October, seeing more than 6 million people attend every year. And while Tokyo’s event isn’t of such colossal scale, and undoubtedly lacks authentic lederhosen, the city’s answer to this is observing Oktoberfest 6 times a year! In an attitude I imagine Germans to applaud, Tokyo asks, ‘Why do we need to wait until October to drink beer outside?’
In 2019, Tokyo has already celebrated Oktoberfest 3 times; in Odaiba, Nakano and Hibiya. But if you’re visiting Tokyo over the summer months, your trip might just overlap one of the festival events.
Oktoberfest will be held again in:
Komazawa Olympic Park from July 12th to 21st / Weekdays 4pm – 9pm and weekends 11am – 9pm
Tenjin from July 19th to 28th / Weekdays 5pm – 10pm and weekends 11am to 10pm
Odaiba (again) from August 23rd to September 1st / Weekdays 4pm – 9.30pm and weekends 11am to 9.30pm
(Notably, not once in October…)
Due to the high proportion of Japanese people and looming high-rises, Tokyo’s Oktoberfest is distinct from the quaint beauty of Munich’s fairytale architecture and outlying snow-capped peaks. That said, Tokyo is still a great place to drink beer! I’ve never attended Oktoberfest in Germany but was drinking at beer gardens in Munich just a few months ago, so I can gather that Tokyo’s festival is slightly more… disciplined? but probably just as densely packed with punters. If you’re keen to avoid to crowds and bag a seat while you swig, I’d avoid the events on weekends, but of course, this is when spirits are at their most jubilant.
What’s on offer and how much will it cost?
Expensive imported German beers and traditional Bavarian cuisine, although whether it’s cooked quite to the standard of its home turf is questionable.
I’d like to take a second now to emphasise expensive.
1 litre beer at Germany’s Oktoberfest costs about 11 euros (1350 yen), whereas 1 litre of the good stuff in Tokyo is going to set you back 2800 yen (22 euros)! You can easily do the math. Seems you’re paying double for its first-class flight over here.
It’s also going to cost about 1000 yen (8 euros) for 2 sausages.
Entrance to the events is free at least, so if you just fancy passing through to see what it’s about, you’re welcome to do that.
At Oktoberfest in Hibiya, there were 18 bar/food stands, as well as a big tent with long tables and benches with a stage for live bands and dancers. I was only there on a Saturday for a few of hours and failed to see a performance, but I’m sure if you stuck about long enough something would rock up.
Number of stalls may vary slightly from location to location, but you should get that classic striped tent!
Drop by for a beer or booze your way through the day; it’s your wallet’s call.
Ease of Navigation
You can easily use Google Maps to find the location of the festival events and then once you’re in the vicinity, just follow the sounds of merry chatter and wafts of sausage.
English Information available
The beer names are the German brands, but the food descriptions are only in Japanese. There are pictures however to help you make a fine guess.
Should you go to Oktoberfest in Tokyo?
If you’ve got time to spare or you’re in the area, it might be worth a stop-by if you’re longing for a cold one on a hot day. However, it’s nothing out of the ordinary and doesn’t really give you an authentic taste of German or Japanese culture. It’s just a relaxing place to sit, knock back a few in Tokyo while pretending to be in Germany…