The next station heading anti-clockwise is Ebisu, and the Yebisu Beer Museum.
If you were on a drinking tour around Tokyo, it’s natural to think a Beer Museum would be the one indispensable site. The opposite however would be much closer to the mark. It should be the first place discarded if you are pressed for time, for very little at all would lose very little if the only beer museum you ever saw here was the one flowering in the soil of your imagination.
The thing that place struck me most about the place was that it was exceptionally clean, very likely clean enough to getting down on hands and knees to lick up any spillage, and come away with a tongue more bacteria free than it was before you performed the said act. That said it’s probably no more or no less clean than any museum. But thrown beer in the equation, and anything more hygienic than ‘lived in’ or ‘earthy’ seems way out of place. Perform the classic beer-fuelled act of throwing up over their ruby red carpet and you would no doubt shut the place down for 6 weeks while they called in the biohazard squad to decontaminate the place. This is not beer.
Nor is it a museum, really. The information on the wall gives every impression it has been scrubbed at least as thoroughly as the floors. The human element, which is the real story of beer, has been washed away. It’s like being served beer in tablet form. This might suffice for a tour around the joint for prospective employees, but for the rest of us it’s an opportunity lost. Beer is the architect of story after story after story, and who did what to whom after a truckload of Yebisu Beer would be no different. Even an acknowledgement of the human struggle needed to produce it would be better than what’s served up.
So why would should you think about calling in here even if you do have the time? Disappointment should not be completely confused with diabolical. To be fair, some of the posters and old beer bottles are kinda cool in a momentary way ads and beer bottles tend to be. And being such a cursory effort it does have the advantage of being able to whip through it quickly, drink your 400yen choice of Yebisu beverage from the bar there, ponder over how your real beer museum would wow all and sundry, then get on with the rest of your journey.
To get to Yebisu Beer Museum, head for the East exit of Ebisu Station, then turn right once you leave the gates. Go on the walkway right to the end, then cross the road into Yebisu Garden Place then head left past the Mitsukoshi Department Store where you will find the Sapporo Building. It’s down the stairs on the right side of that building.