Since the 18th Century, October has meant squeezing into lederhosen for residents of Munich.
But Oktoberfest is also celebrated in other parts of the world, including Japan.
The Japanese love all things European, but this fall festival is observed in a very unique way.
With apartment living the norm, where’s a Teutonic-minded diner able to sample the best of Bavaria?
Yoita BBQ and Beer Garden in the Niigata Prefecture offers an Oktoberfest experience in the heart of Japan.
A row of grills is available with the purchase of a packet of protein and produce. It’s about $13 for a seven ounce serving of beef, salmon, chicken or sausage, about $8 for fries and other veggies. The better cuts of steak are $16 a serving.
But even in a beer garden, the star of the show is rice, which is steamed on site and offered gratis, though patrons are allowed to bring their own.
Blankets are also free. The Munich Oktoberfest is actually celebrated in September to take advantage of the warmer weather.
But not in Japan. They want the real thing, even if it means huddling in fleece throughout the meal.
Of course, it’s never too cold to drink beer. A few Japanese beer gardens will feature German brews, but they rarely outsell the local suds.
Just a few miles away, Nagaoka toasts with another vintage. The annual sake festival features the offering of the region’s more than 200 sake breweries.