A lot of people who come to Japan realize that Oktoberfest seems to be happening every month in Japan. It can be a little puzzling but it is also pretty easy to understand. The basic idea is that it is all about marketing. It is pretty simple and easy to understand and a very cleaver situation but Oktoberfest is a really confusing set of events in Japan if you don’t know what is happening or why it is happening.
The biggest company that runs Oktoberfest festivals in Japan is actually called Oktoberfest (https://www.oktober-fest.jp/). From April till October they have nearly one Oktoberfest festival each month. They have 4 festivals in the Tokyo region and a couple other events around Japan. This changes every year but generally they have two events in Odaiba and Hibiya Park each year in Tokyo. In its simplest form it is just a marketing ploy to get people to enjoy German beer, German food, and German entertainment. The prices are a little steep but it has been very successful at being a general German festival.
The second company to have Oktoberfest is a company with a website located at www.okt-fest.com. They are not the biggest company but they have 4 festivals around Japan with a similar system to the company mentioned previously. While they don’t have any festivals in Tokyo itself, they do have a couple festivals in the Kanto region.
If you do go to any of these Oktoberfest events, you have to understand that it is expensive. They generally have a glass deposit system where you pay 1,000 JPY for a deposit on the glass on top of the cost of the beer. You will get your money back for the deposit as long as you return the glass. The food is all typical touristy German food that varies from various sausages and sauerkraut to pretzels. Usually there is also a German band playing various traditional German songs and you can even get up and dance with them if you’d like. The bands don’t play the entire time so you do get a little time to relax if you don’t enjoy that type of music.
If you see another Oktoberfest that isn’t part of the two mentioned above, it is often a local festival held in conjunction with the local governments. They range from affordable to expensive but they usually don’t have glass systems as mentioned in the previous paragraph. It is a very different experience and more Japanese, but still a good way to experience a German festival.
When Oktoberfest started it was a true Oktoberfest event. It was generally held in autumn but since the event was very successful they just grew their business models and allowed for more beer and profits. The true meaning of Oktoberfest in Japan is no longer the same as it is in Germany as it is just a moneymaking festival that can easily be called a “German Festival” where you can get a taste for German culture through beer, food, and dancing. It is still fun to go with friends but for a craft beer drinker, you are probably better off going to a different event.