Posted by: Airtower | 2011-03-10

Sapporo Beer Museum – Seeing Snow, part 5

Our last morning in Sapporo was a wonderful sunny one (see part 3 and part 4 for the day before). After moving out of our rooms we stored the luggage in the Youth Hostel’s lockers and set off for the Sapporo Beer Museum. The sunny weather was great for taking photos, like the following one. So much snow!

A one-and-a-half story house, the thick layer of snow on the roof continuously merging into the heap of snow covering the side of the house.

The museum is located a 19th century brick building that was the original site of the Sapporo Brewery. As you can see, the building is decorated with red stars, the company’s logo, and of course they don’t want to miss out on the snow festival.

The Sapporo Beer Museum, front view with a snowman in the foreground

A nice trait of the museum is that photography is not only not forbidden but expressly allowed (and that there is no entrance fee). While the labels in the museum are only in Japanese, they handed us an English guidebook.

The first brewmaster of the Sapporo Brewery was Seibai Nakagawa, who learned the trade in Germany (where else would you go to learn brewing?) from 1873 to 1875. The museum displays the certificate he received at the end of his studies, which says that he gained excellent skills and therefore reached the goal of his travel to Europe “to the fullest extent.” I guess it was a result of this connection to Germany that during the brewery’s early years the bottles were labeled using German terms. Later they switched to English for reasons unknown to me.

3 Sapporo Beer bottles

They also have a model landscape explaining the steps of beer production from growing the ingredients up to bottling and selling. While the models are not scientifically exact, they do have entertainment and, very important in Japan, cuteness value. Even cuter were the little children with their little cameras taking photos of all this. 😉 Next to each model step is an explanation, so the educational angle is covered as well.

Brewery employee figures filling beer into barrels, storing those, and filtering the beer later.

The old building has a beautiful stained glass window depicting the basic ingredients of beer: barley, hops and water.

Stained glass window with beer ingredients

I don’t have a really good picture of the collection of advertisement posters because they were behind glass and reflections were impossible to avoid. However, the guidebook mentioned an interesting fact about the advertisements: Until after middle of the 20th century, only women were prominently featured on the posters, often as “a woman in traditional Japanese clothes presenting a bottle of beer.” I don’t know what the intended message was, but my guess is that it was something like “a good housewife will give her husband our beer when he returns tired from work.”

After leaving, we saw this sculpture of an ant colony just outside the museum (you can still see it in the background). A funny idea!

Snow sculpture: A cube with carved chambers, corridors and colorful plastic ants

After the beer museum I had only three hours left in Sapporo, but I’ll still leave that and the trip home for later. 😛

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