Secrets of a Beer Town: Discover the Roots of Ebisu
Ebisu is one of Japan's Seven Lucky Gods. He is the deity of wealth, fortune and the protector of fishermen.
A Station Made for Beer
Statue of Ebisu in front of Ebisu station
The Yebisu brewery is no longer located here, but the neighborhood still retains the image, the fame and the pride for it's popular brand.
Is it "Ebisu" or "Yebisu"? Yebisu beer intentionally uses the archaic transcription of the name, which was later simplified to Ebisu. That's why the district and the name have a different spelling.
Yebisu Garden Place
One of the reasons for the development of the area was the opening of Yebisu Garden Place in 1994. This complex includes the Museum of Yebisu Beer, a photography museum and a great number of restaurants, cafes and shops. It's a miniature city with a pleasant mixture of skyscrapers and 18th century style architecture.
A wide glass arch covers the central plaza where a lot of events and markets are held on weekends.
■ Beer Station Yebisu
Address: Ebisu Garden Place, 4-20-4 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 11:30am-11:00pm (L.O. 10:15pm), 11:30am-10:00pm (L.O. 9:15pm) on Sundays and Holidays
■ LA TABLE de Joël Robuchon
If you like to enjoy gourmet food no matter where you are, you might want to stop by this scenic restaurant. French chef Joël Robuchon opened it in 1994 in a building that resembles an 18th-century chateau.
LA TABLE de Joël Robuchon | ラ ターブル ドゥ ジョエル・ロブション
Address: Ebisu Garden Place 1F, 1-13-1 Mita, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 11:30am-2:00pm (L.O.), 2:00pm-4:30pm (L.O. 4:00pm), 6:00pm-9:30pm (L.O.)
Website (Japanese-only): http://www.robuchon.jp/latable
■ Tokyo Photographic Art Museum
Recently renovated, the TOP Museum features a large permanent gallery and several temporary exhibitions. The admission fee varies depending on the current displays.
Tokyo Photographic Art Museum | 東京都写真美術館
Address: Yebisu Garden Place, 1-13-3 Mita Meguro-ku Tokyo
Hours: 10:00am-6:00pm (8:00pm on Thursdays and Fridays). From July 20 - August 25 open until 9:00pm on Thursdays and Fridays. Last entry 30 minutes before closing.
■ Brick End
A curry restaurant, a burger joint, an izakaya, a music bar and a snack bar. These five standing establishments all offer a nice view overlooking the Yamanote line tracks. They define themselves as "the new wave of Yokocho (alley)".
Address: 1-13-3 Mita, Meguro-ku, Tokyo
Hours: check the website for each shop's opening hours
Website (Japanese-only): http://gardenplace.jp/special/brickend/
The Highlight: Yebisu Beer Museum
It goes without saying that the main attraction in Yebisu Garden Place is the Yebisu Beer Museum. Here you can take a tour through the history of the brewery that made Yebisu, try some samplings and shop for Yebisu-themed souvenirs.
For 500 yen you can take a guided 40 minutes tour. The tour includes sampling of two varieties of Yebisu. The tour is offered in Japanese only, but all parts of the museum have English explanations.
■ The Tour
During the first 20 minutes a Yebisu beer expert will tell you everything about the brand.
The museum showcases the original label design, old advertisement posters and other memorabilia. You'll learn about how expensive beer was back in 1904, what manga Yebisu beer was portrayed in and where the Ebisu station jingle comes from.
Yebisu beer mugs from 1900
■ The Tasting
After learning so much about Yebisu you'll be looking forward to the second half of the tour! Here you'll be able to sample two varieties of Yebisu beer.
We were also offered a small snack. Salty green peas go perfectly well with beer!
After being served the first beer on tap, everybody is given a second beer in a can and the tour guide will show you the perfect pouring technique.
Everyone tries their best to mimic the pouring technique.
And finally the tour ends with a hearty "kanpai"!
■ Tasting Salon And Shop
The museum also includes a 'tasting salon'. In this pub-style area you can try even more varieties of beer, some of which are only available here. The ordering process is quite articulated but fun.
First, choose your beer from the menu. Then pay the corresponding price at the vending machine which will spit out a special Yebisu coin. Take your coin to the counter and exchange it for a coaster with the name of your beer.
Now you can enjoy your Yebisu of choice!
Next to the tasting salon is a souvenir shop where you can find all sorts of Yebisu themed products and also some beer snacks.
Museum of YEBISU BEER | ヱビスビール記念館
Address: Yebisu Garden Place, 4-20-1 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Hours: 11:00am-7:00pm (last Yebisu tour at 5:10pm, tasting salon last order at 6:30pm)
closed on Mondays and New Year holidays
How To Get There
Ebisu station is served by the Yamanote line, the Saikyo line, the Shonan-Shinjuku line, and the Hibiya subway line. Its convenient position makes it easily accessible from Shibuya and Shinjuku.
You can go to Yebisu Garden Place via the Ebisu Skywalk, a covered walkway outside JR Ebisu Station East Exit. It takes about 5 minutes on foot.
Ebisu is a charming district with a fascinating history, famous for its many bars and restaurants. If you are in Tokyo, definitely treat yourself to a few hours in Ebisu and Yebisu Garden Place!
About the author
Laura is an Italian living and working in Tokyo. She loves exploring hidden and unknown places, taking pictures and listening to Punk Rock music. When she’s not busy doing the above, she might enjoy a craft beer or play the sanshin (an Okinawan instrument similar to a shamisen).
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THIS ARTICLE IS BASED ON INFORMATION FROM 08 03,2017 Author：DiGJAPAN! Editorial Team