First Day of Oktoberfest

Today, 17 September, marks the beginning of Oktoberfest. This folk festival originated in Munich, Germany but has spread to across the world. Japan is no exception and years ago when we lived near Yokohama we enjoyed the festival at the Red Brick Warehouse.

At the Munich Oktoberfest there are strict rules about what can be served at the festival. Only beers brewed within the city limits of Munich. Japan did not have those s restrictions and beers brewed in Germany and Japan were served. Yokohama’s Oktoberfest festival only had one beer tent where as Munich and other german festivals have multiple tents which can house several thousands of guest. In the center of the beer tent was a Polka Band. True to the “only in Japan” mentality the polka band was comprised of all Japanese musicians. The crowd of guest were all enjoying the music. And I had a distinctive memory of a german polka band composed of Japanese musicians playing the British tune Hey Jude, blindly sung by a group of Americans. Truly a world wide celebration.

At the Yokohama Oktoberfest the beer hall was not the only event. Each winter the location also host a Christmas Market. These building are brought back out and feature german crafts and foods. There was a small section for children’s rides but nothing like the german Oktoberfest which have rides similar to what you would find in an American County Fair.

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