Museum of Yebisu Beer in Ebisu, Tokyo
Yebisu Beer is one of Japan’s oldest breweries. Started in 1890 with the help of a German brewmaster, Yebisu Beer was created to bring a new authentic German beer to Japan. With its long history, I was very excited to learn about the Museum of Yebisu Beer located a short walk from Ebisu station.
The museum offers tours for only ¥500, and includes two glasses of Yebisu beer. The tours are currently conducted in Japanese only, but all signs in the gallery are also in English. Yebisu experts conduct tours regularly and those interested can sign up for a tour at the information desk located on the main floor of the museum. Tours take about 40 minutes, including the beer tasting. If you have the time, a tour is an affordable and a great way to learn about Yebisu beer.
If you don’t have time for a full tour, you can also view the galleries and tasting salon on your own time with no admission fee. The tasting salon has five types of Yebisu beer available for purchase: Perfect Yebisu (380ml), Kohaku Yebisu (380ml), Yebisu Premium Black (380ml), Yebisu Stout Creamy Top (400ml), and Yebisu Premium Mix (400ml). Any of these choices are one Yebisu coin and coins are 400¥ each. You can purchase coins on a vending machine, which is translated into English as well. Food is also available for purchase. When you walk up to the tasting salon area, there is a menu that shows all of the available beers and food items for purchase. After you have your coins, you order your beer at the salon bar. You can take your beer and sit any of the tables in the salon area. During peak times, the bar area may fill up. Usually a table opens up within a matter of minutes.
The museum gallery is small, but is filled with interesting facts about Yebisu beer and features beer bottles throughout Yebisu’s long history. It is interesting to see the small and big changes the label and bottle for Yebisu beer have taken over the years. One interesting fact I learned at the museum was in 1904, a bottle of beer cost 10 times the amount of a bowl of soba noodles. Beer was very difficult to afford during this time for many Japanese, which is not the case today. The gallery is full of interesting facts like this, so please take the time to browse all of the wonderful items on display in the gallery.
You may be thinking that Yebisu and Ebisu sounds awfully alike. The reason is that Ebisu is mainly the modern way of pronouncing and writing Yebisu. The Japanese kana character for the syllable “ye” is no longer used, so when Ebisu was founded in 1928 around the brewery, “ye” was replaced with “e.”
Another exciting aspect of the museum is the museum shop. The shop is filled with many interesting gifts and items any beer enthusiast would enjoy. One of my favorite items in the shop was a unique set of beer glasses that appear plain, but show the Yebisu logo once beer or anything cold is poured into the glass. Another item I thought was great was a set of wooden chopsticks that looks beautiful and well made. I had a lot of fun looking at all the different items available for sale in the shop and even picked up a gift for a friend who loves beer.
The museum is located within Yebisu Garden Place. There are many restaurants and shops in the area. During the holiday season, Yebisu place is lit with many Christmas lights and features a large fully lit chandelier. The Yebisu Garden Place Tower offers great views of Tokyo Tower from its restaurants on the 38th floor. The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography is also located in the area (closed for renovation until autumn 2016). Be sure to visit some of the other attractions in Yebisu Garden Place, if you have the time.
The Museum of Yebisu Beer is conveniently located. From Shinjuku station, you can take the Yamanote line 4 stops to reach Ebisu station. Once you get to Ebisu station, just follow signs for the “Yebisu Skywalk.” You’ll know you’re going the right way when you begin to see the many Yebisu and other Sapporo beer advertisements on the Yebisu Skywalk. The museum is open from 11:00am to 19:00pm and tours are given until 17:10.
The Museum of Yebisu Beer is a great place to relax and learn about beer from Japan. You should definitely check it out when you’re in Tokyo.