September 25, 2014
We all know that the Munich Oktoberfest has become an export success all over the world. To no surprise – Tokyo has its Oktoberfest too! It ended last Tuesday and we had the chance to spend the Saturday evening there – the night of the opening of the Munich Oktoberfest.
I think over all it may have been just like any other Oktoberfest event outside of Munich – an opportunity for German breweries and sausage producers to sell their high-priced products to an interested audience. What may make a difference here in Tokyo is how people prepare for the event and how it is organised on site. Preparation is key Not only is there a dedicated website which explains the various beer types and Bavarian dishes served on site, there is also a sing-along guide with the most important “Wies’n” songs – well let’s say refrains.
Another key element of the website is the explanation of the deposit system. The concept of having real glasses is very unusual as Japanese love their plastic and paper cups. Even inside coffee shops you may be served your drink in a plastic or paper cup. So the website tells you that you pay a deposit and that you can keep your glass and get a refill – even with different types of beer. As you return your glass before you leave, you will get your deposit back – almost 7 Euro per glass! On site
First of all tables with mosquito spray for free use are placed at all entrances – very mindful, nice and absolutely necessary! Next you will find big displays with explanations on beer types, tastes and prices. To drink Kölsch or Pils at the Oktoberfest is absolutely no offence – any German beer type is allowed and on sale. Same is true for the food as every booth is equipped with explanatory charts on the various dishes like Eisbein, sausages etc.
An unusual and typical Japanese element is the Sake stall! But apparently there is no Japanese event without it. The booth was not very crowded as people really enjoyed their beers, but we were there quite early and so we don’t know how busy it got later on – even though the Oktoberfest finishes at 10 pm. Another highlight: the band – “Die Kirchdorfer”, according to their homepage THE original Oktoberfestband of the Hacker tent in Munich was one of the worst live performances I have ever witnessed. But people loved them and sang along happily. And people did not come unprepared! They knew their lyrics! Just as the party was in full swing, the lady you can hear at the end of the video announced the 1 hour (!) break. People just cleared the dance floor without further comments and returned to their tables. And then it happened! The open space in front of the stage was closed off and security personnel started to vacuum clean the ground! They did this with scrutiny. Every single fragment of broken glass, spilled food or else was absorbed. Leonard observed this scene in amazement.
As everyone returned to the tables, we did the same. In ordinary Bavarian manner we just joined a small group at one of the beer benches to have our kids eat their ice cream sitting down. Well, I think my kids are beautiful and cute, but Japanese women just go crazy. They were so happy looking at them touching their skin and hair and taking pictures. And even if language limited the exchange, we had a really nice encounter that night. And Lilo showed us how easy it is to overcome those language barriers: she just started to play rock, paper, scissors with the lady opposites her.
We will make sure to be there again next year! Let’s hope that in 2015 “Die Kirchdorfer” will chose to make another country happy with their music.