Exploring Japan through Beer: Kirin "Beer Village" Brewery Tour
"Nature and life, interacting in harmony. This is Kirin's approach to brewing beer."
Plan to be in Yokohoma for a few hours? Like beer? Why not head over to Kirin Brewery's Beer Village for a free look into the home of the Japanese beer industry!
Located in northern Yokohama's Namamugi (Keikyu Keihin Line), this well-known tourist destination for both locals and international visitors is a fantastic way to enjoy the day.
Tours are regularly conducted in Japanese*, but English (and Chinese) language pamphlets are given out, so don't let any language barriers stop you from partaking in this delicious opportunity!
You start by watching a video that briefly explains the history of Kirin Brewery, what beer is and how it's made, followed by what Kirin demands of their beers and what makes them special.
Next, you're taken on a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the brewery, where you're asked to touch and taste ingredients, as well as see the beer making process in action.
Afterwards, you'll learn about Kirin’s commitment to the environment. For example: the Yokohama factory uses solar panels to produce its own energy, and their R&D departments continually studies and develops ways to reduce material use and waste. Did you know their bottles can be reused for as long as 8 years because they're nearly 100% recyclable? Not only their hard materials, but their soft materials, too - Kirin's beer byproducts are reused for many things including food for cattle, fertilizer, and compost for health foods.
Finally, after the approximately one-hour tour has come to an end, you get to sit back, relax and try freshly made beer! One of my favourite moments of the tour was learning how to correctly pour a Kirin beer out of the can. The results were literally (beer) head popping!
But even after all that, your Kirin experience isn't over until you've had a meal at their Spring Valley restaurant. I highly recommend you do.
Tours are free, but do require reservations.
*Tours are usually conducted in Japanese, but on this particular occasion, I was invited to take part in their first 100% English-speaking tour. I had a remarkably fun time, learned a lot - and insisted they keep it up. So inquire about English-speaking tours when you call, tell them Lee sent you!
Kirin Brewery Co. Yokohama Factory
1-17-1, Namamugi, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama, 230-8628
Tour reservations/inquiries: 045-503-8250
Closed: Mondays (open on holiday Mondays, closed the next day)
(On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, the production lines are off. Demonstrations by video only)
Official Site (Access Page)
Former Deep Japan Writer