My most recent visit to Hokkaido included some wonderful sightseeing and zen relaxation, however it was the visit to the country’s first brewery “Sapporo” that made the trip for me.
Legend has it that as Meiji era powers-that-be designated Hokkaido as the most auspicious test ground for all those strange things foreigners thought were good ideas. Rather than implement these weird social experiments in highly populated areas, far-away newly-promoted-destination Hokkaido seemed like a better solution. Thus you will find the layout of towns to be slightly more European than the rest of Japan, the foods to be strangely rich, and the beer to be remarkable.
Legend also has it that the German visitors tried the local wheat and were pleasantly surprised, quickly pondering “How does the beer taste?” – to which the Japanese responded “What’s beer?“. Germans may or may not have shouted “Nooooooooooooo” and ran towards diplomatic envoys to have these outrage sorted asap.
So maybe somewhat along those lines, Seibei Nakagawa underwent German training on the fine art of beer making, and brewed the first Japanese beer for Kaitakushi in 1876. Ten years later, the company was privatized and a competitive beer market developed in Japan, many of the brands continuing to this day. Sapporo’s brewery is still active and also serving as a beer museum for the curious, aka me. Below is a short gallery of some of the fun things one can see… and of course you can get your own Sapporo T-shirt!