Because Japanese people love drinking, it’s no surprise that the German Oktoberfest has found its way to Japan. In Fukuoka, the Oktoberfest has been an annual event for a few years now, usually held during the last week of October.[click here for official Japanese event page]
This 2011, my lab mates and I decided to check out the Fukuoka Oktoberfest on a Monday night to chill out from our research (our excuse to drink). The venue was in Reizen Park, so we took the train to Nakasu Kawabata Station. We arrived there at around six in the evening and walked a block or two to the park.
We were greeted by the welcome sign and some Japanese ushers who handed each of us a sheet of yellow paper with the venue map and song lyrics, which proved to be very useful after a few beers. But more on that later.
The first thing we did was to look for, of course, German beer! There were several choices but Loren, my Filipina friend who came with us, and I chose the stall with the nice German lady smiling at us. We asked her to choose our drink for us, since we did not know what the different beers were anyway. We were surprised when she replied to us in Filipino! She speaks a little Filipino, with very good Japanese, English, and of course, German 🙂 Very cool!
She also explained that we had to pay 1,000 yen more for the ‘glass deposit’. She said that after we finish with the glass, we just have to surrender it at the next stall for our next beer, and they will replace it with another glass. At the end of the night, we just returned the glass to the designated area to get our 1,000 yen back. The biggest glass available was 500 mL.
Since it was dinnertime, we also looked for food to accompany the beer. There were several stalls selling sausages, fries, pizza, popcorn, pretzels (in short, food not usually served in a Japanese restaurant/cafeteria). We got German sausages with mashed potato to really take in the ‘German’ atmosphere.
There was a little rain, so we brought our food and drinks inside the tent. The tent was relatively big and because we came early, we got a whole long table to ourselves. My labmates ordered different kinds of beer so we got to taste the different types of German beer available. This also gave us an idea which type of beer to try next.
There was a three-man German band (2 guitars and an accordion) who performed twice that night. Every 15 minutes or so, they enjoined everybody to sing the traditional German toast song ‘Ein Prosit’ and then toast. The lyrics to the song was in the yellow flyer that they gave us when we entered.
As the night continued and people became more intoxicated, the party got more interesting. As the band played German songs, people started to dance in front of the stage to songs they couldn’t even understand 🙂 They also made a dancing train line that went from the stage to the back of the tent. People were high-fiving each other and jumping up and down while waving German flags. Of course, we joined in on the fun! It was a crazy, fun-filled night. After the singing, dancing and shouting, we got ready to go home since the event closes at 10 in the evening every night (too early! but this is probably wise to avoid people from getting too drunk).
To cap off the night, some of my labmates rode the merry-go-round. I did not think the alcohol in my system would agree to going round and round in circles, so I passed on that and amused myself watching them and taking pictures.
We walked back to the train station and went home with a few drunk friends, and happy memories of loudly singing ‘Ein Prosit’ and shouting ‘Prost!’. It was one of the best Monday nights ever, partying the Japanese-German(?) way! 🙂