With our cruise over, Mrs. Sip and I, along with her sister were on our way to Japan for two weeks of riding the rails, sightseeing and taking in the country’s fascinating culture.
I learned quickly that there were some craft beer options in Japan and picked up bottles and cans whenever the opportunity arose. Some of our favourites included releases from Cuedo Brewing (hefeweizen, IPL, pilsner, and a very interesting imperial sweet potato amber); Suntory (stout, IPA, weizen, amber ale, etc.); and what we can only call “frog beers” (saison and American wheat).
Switching gears to the macro side of things, we were lucky to tour the Kirin Brewery outside Kobe, Japan. The shuttle that takes visitors from train station to factory is designed to look like a beer can, so things get off to a great start and only get better from there with a free tour and samples. Sure, you have to go through a tour that is only done in Japanese, but the sacrifice is well worth it!
In Osaka, we explored the Dotonbori area, known for its vibrant nightlife. Some research led us to the Space Station Video Game Bar, where drinkers can enjoy a beverage and a vintage video game. As expected, the drinks and shots available are themed after video games and popular characters. I had the Gin & Sonic (a G&T with Blue Curacao added to emulate the classic Sega speedster), followed by a Triforce shooter of Legend of Zelda fame. The owner made sure to get us set up with a great game called Ibb and Obb, while the bartender was very helpful with describing their extensive menu.
Our Air BnB in Tokyo was located just minutes away from the Golden Gai area of the city. Here, there are an estimated 300 little bars, some of which you would struggle to get more than a handful of people into. Some of these spots only welcome locals, while others may be open to tourists, providing they pay a cover charge. We tried to stick to bars that allowed foreigners (or gaijin as they are known) and didn’t have cover. We worked our way into four very unique settings, including one honouring classic movies; one where karaoke filled the venue; Death Match in Hell, which was a tribute to death metal and horror movies; and 5 Gallons, which was just straight up fun.
The next night, we enjoyed a two-hour all-inclusive drinking experience on the 41st floor of the Park Hyatt, in their Peak Bar. Dubbed the Top of Tokyo, my strategy was to challenge the bartender to make her best cocktail with [insert liquor here]. It yielded some great results, such as a Cherry Blossom. This was joined by copious other beverages, including manhattans, mojitos, daiquiris and whiskey sours.
We wrapped up our Asian journey with a few days at the Tokyo Disney Resort. Drinks could be had in the Disney Sea park, which meant we spent a fair bit of time there. Mrs. Sip dared me to try their “Frozen” Kirin Draft, which translated into chilled foam at the top of the beer that kept it cooler, longer, but tasted as bad as you’d expect the head of beer to taste.
We also enjoyed some quiet time in both of the park’s lounges: the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge and Magellan’s Lounge. At Magellan’s, Mrs. Sip and I enjoyed their wine tasting flight, which included a white, red, and port pour, along with meat and cheese nibblies.
Much like most of our journeys, I can’t say enough good things about the sites we saw, the people we met and the activities we experienced. I wouldn’t trade the trip for anything and urge all you little sippers out there to try it for yourselves.