Report and photos by Katie Forster for Fukuoka Now.
On Saturday evening we headed to the opening weekend of Fukuoka’s yearly Oktoberfest in search of good beer and the possibility of a Bavarian knees-up. The festival, at Reisen park in Hakata until Oct. 27, is inspired by the world-famous event in Munich, whose population happens to be around the same as Fukuoka’s. Despite the flight hours between the two cities, the appeal of donning lederhosen, consuming unhealthy amounts of beer and bratwurst and doing the oom-pah to a German-inspired folk band travels very well indeed.
Wafting our way through the smell of grilled sausage and the queues at each stand for overflowing golden tankards, the buzz of the jovial crowd suggested that a good deal of thirst had already been quenched. As we squashed into the main tent, the event’s sociable ethos became apparent: ‘do you want to join us?’ shouted one of many potential drinking buddies over the noise of hundreds of other new acquaintances discovering that they, too, love the tuba. After a quick ‘Prost!’, we moved on to find more people making the most of the variety of brews on offer.
The international theme of the event attracted a mix of both Japanese and overseas revellers. Tim, Trevor and Luke, above, are from England and Australia and have been living in Fukuoka for over 7 years (12 in Tim’s case). They were celebrating Luke’s birthday at Oktoberfest and were happy that the weather was better and there were more people than last year. What’s in their glasses? ‘Japanese beer – a recommendation’. How does it taste? ‘It’s fruity, a little bit hoppy but nice.’ Sehr gut.
Back inside the tent, a yodelling fraulein had stolen the stage, cementing the intoxicating yet surreal ‘fairytale Germany’ aesthetic cultivated throughout the event. Lace-up tops, frills and hats with feathers on were spotted on a wide cross-section of the crowd, throwing their hands up to the music in front of the stage.
English teacher Philippa, on the right, was enjoying Oktoberfest with her friends – she told us she was having a good night and had met plenty of people. How long has she been in Fukuoka? ‘Two years now – it feels like two days!’
So how does Oktoberfest in Fukuoka compare to the real deal in Germany? Lena, from a town near Hamburg, has been working part-time in a bar in Fukuoka for two months and is working at a pretzel stand during the festival. ‘Everybody’s in a good mood, they’re enjoying the German food and drink. It might be a little crazier than in Germany, a little bit more creative – like making me stay here with this giant pretzel… I’m not sure if that would happen in Germany.’
Non-musical entertainment included this classic merry-go-round, beside which we bumped into Laurie from Cambridge, England.
‘I’m having an absolutely wonderful Oktoberfest’. If you could sum up the night in one word, what would it be? ‘Hmm…party… German…?’ This answer was revised to ‘beer-tastic!’ after careful consideration. So, what are you drinking, Laurie? ‘Hoffbrau! In a stein, which is a traditional glass. It’s exactly one litre, because of course in Germany they use the metric system’. Luckily, he was able to act as a (100% sober) translator so we could chat to his friends. What do they think of the event? ‘The beer is great!’ And the food? ‘Oishii!’
Danke schön, Oktoberfest!
Fukuoka Oktoberfest is open from now until 27 Oct (Sun.). 16:00~22:00 Mon~Fri and 11:00~22:00 Sat~Sun. Free entry. Report and photos by Katie Forster for Fukuoka Now.