Welcome to the Niche Adventures series. Mostly centred around things that are awesome but pretty…you know…out of the way and off the beaten track. These are activities that may be hard to find but are certainly worth seeking out. This week, I’m starting with an event based in the Western Tottori 鳥取県 city of Yonago 米子市.
The prefecture that was my home whilst on the JET programme features the glorious Mount Daisen (大山). It is the highest mountain in the Chūgoku region, and, according to Wikipedia, the most important volcano on the Daisen volcanic belt (I’m not sure how one gets this accolade). Possibly more important than all of this is the fact that it hosts an awesome beer festival at its base each year.
2015 will mark the festival’s 5th year and with a wide range of craft beers from all over Japan and with free camping nearby, it becomes a whole weekend of drinking and fun. Set halfway up the mountain and chock full of local food and music, you even get a free glass to use for the duration of the festival and take home with you. I managed not to lose mine in the drunken chaos after and it still has pride of place in my kitchen.
The year I attended there were some great local and foreign singers. Performances included taiko drumming and cultural dancing. Tables and umbrellas are set up in the middle of the drinking area for you to catch some shade (dehydration is the enemy here people).
I can’t say I’m a huge beer drinker but even I managed to enjoy the wide variety and find something I liked (mostly the fruity ones… girly, I know). Although Japan is more famous for its rice wine, sake 酒, Daisen Beerfest features around 60 different beers made by 12 different breweries from 11 different prefectures.
You can, of course, get to the venue by car. There is plenty of parking at the site and the campsite. Transport from Yonago train station is also free and there is a looped bus route that takes you from the train station to the venue, to the campsite. Of course it gets pretty busy but better than walking up a mountain.
There are 2 kinds of tickets for the festival: the first costs 1900 yen (1600 yen in advance or 1900 with a festival glass). This entitles you to 5 220ml beers of your choice. There is also a one day ‘all you can drink’ (nomihoudai) ticket (my fave), which comes with an original glass and a wristband; you must have both of these to be served (there are a limited number of glasses so come early to avoid disappointment). One day tickets can be used for either Saturday or Sunday and cost 5000 yen (4500 yen in advance). Tickets are cheaper if bought in advance and will be available via the JTB ‘entame’ ticketing system at Lawson, Family Mart, Seven Eleven, Circle K Sunkus and Mini Stop all across the country. Tickets will be available at selected locations around Tottori and Shimane prefectures.
More information can be found at: http://beerfestdaisen.com/en/