Oktoberfest: A Taste of German Culture in Hibiya Park
After Akihabara and Odaiba, Hibiya Park hosted Oktoberfest. It was an outdoor event with all of the qualities associated with German culture: high spirits, lots of laughter, singing, a boisterous brass band and all kinds of beer to enjoy.
Oktoberfest has become more popular in Japan recently with people seeking a glimpse of European influence. At this event, the tables were surrounding the Hibiya Park fountain with stalls serving imported German beer as well as various German dishes like sausage, pork meat on the bone, sauerkraut, potatoes, bread and pickles. There were German desserts too like baumkuchen and even a mixed beer and ice cream dessert called a “beer float”.
When ordering a beer you had the option of a whole bottle for the stall price or a tall genuine brewery-owned glass, which you had to pay the price plus a deposit, which allows you to keep the glass or finish the drink, return it and get your deposit back. Everyone enjoyed the imported beer and some were sold for the first time in Japan only at this festival. The stalls also had different alcoholic beverages including beer cocktails and wine.
Though it was a German festival they brought in a little piece of Japanese culture. There was one sake stand for people to sip Japan’s cultural beverage. The sake was brewed in the Tohoku—northeastern—area.
When the event started at 4 p.m., people rotated stall after stall looking for delicious German cuisine to munch on with their drink. Female Oktoberfest staff dressed in traditional German costumes handed out menus. When night fell, a lederhosen-dressed band started playing their traditional German Oktoberfest music and people were singing and dancing all night having a lot of fun.
The band’s name was Die Kirchdorfer who call themselves “The official and original Oktoberfest band” according to their website. They play traditional German music not only in Germany but also all over the world to enthusiastic audiences. They play in cities all over Japan at every Oktoberfest that takes place.
“We are a real Oktoberfest band. No other one in Japan,” says Markus Weber, one of the band members. “People here are less aggressive than Europeans. Because Europeans know our kind of music.”
The band was a huge hit with the Japanese audience. Die Kirchdorfer’s members would play music then give them German words to chant along with them. Like traditional beer gardens in Germany, every few minutes the band would sing the Oktoberfest song “ein prozit” and everyone would join them in unison waving their hands and cheering on. Then the band played popular music along with famous Japanese tunes like the ancient “Sukiyaki Song”. They even spoke Japanese to the crowd lifting their enthusiasm even higher and asking, “Are you drinking…are you drinking?”
For more info on Die Kirchdorfer visit oktoberfestband.com.
There is always a fun, global event to attend in a big city like Tokyo and Oktoberfest is the German cultural event loved by all who come to experience. It is popular all over the world but Japan hosts 10 Oktoberfests year round. The next one could be in a city near you. Hibiya Park will host two Oktoberfests this year May 15-24 and September 11-20.
Official website (in Japanese) : http://www.oktober-fest.jp/