I have been to the Sapporo Beer factory a few times but the mission was always to eat as much ‘Jingiskan’ and drink as much Sapporo beer as I could. This time I allowed some time to explore the museum and outside gardens as well.
Sapporo Beer was the first brewery in Japan. The beautiful red brick building itself is a relic of the past and very important in the history of Japan. It was built in about 1880s at the peak of the Meiji Period and a time when Japan was modernising very rapidly.
There are free tours throughout the day that take in to the history of the brand. It is fascinating. This is (from what I know) is the only brewery in Japan that also has a historical section to the tour.
In the Star Hall you can sample different kinds of Sapporo beer. A good way to enjoy the different variety of beer Sapporo has to offer. Some of which is only available in Hokkaido.
Then it’s off to the beer garden. The myth of the Jingiskan is terrific. Apparently the shape of the hot plate represents a Mongol invader’s helmet. (The Mongols tried twice to invade Japan but failed) So this myth has been around since the 13th century. When not in use for waging war the soldiers also used them to cook on. The name also gives it away albeit a little modified for the Japanese language, Jingiskan representing Genghis Khan.
Jingiskan is mutton, sliced thinly and barbecued on a hotplate with vegetables. Once cooked there are a variety of dipping sauces you can use to indulge your taste buds. Of course wash it down with fresh Sapporo beer.
Jingiskan is unique to Hokkaido so don’t expect to see it so much down south.
Only problem I found was the lack of any English information in the museum. For those of you wanting to learn more I would advise a guide or friend who understands Japanese.
Text and photos by Stuart Iles.