Oh boy, I had a couple more beers than I should’ve. But I’m getting ahead of myself because that happened at the end of the day.
I finally found a coffee shop that opened at 8am (Okayama’s a lot bigger than Sakaiminato) and that alone was a huge win. I’ve eaten at conbini a lot the past few days.
There were a bunch of mascots around trying to promote an event I won’t be around for.
Then I got on the Shinkansen to Kagoshima, the southernmost Shinkansen stop.
The first part of the trip I think I was the only Asian in my car. I wondered if everyone was heading for Hiroshima, and sure enough a bunch of people got off. But the same number of non-Asian people (by non-Asian I mean whitey) got on. I checked the World Cup Rugby schedule and I figured they’d get off at two different station. Sure enough, after the two stops I though, it was just me and a bunch of Asians.
In the middle of all that I had a pretty good ekiben from Okayama.
When I got off the train I wondered what I was thinking. I should’ve found a way to stay up north. It’s not THAT hot, but with the humidity it sure seems hot to me.
And of course I got lost. In preparation I looked up the WRONG train station and the WRONG hotel, so I thought I needed to be near the train station in the middle of town when I really was closer to the Shinkansen station. But I made it to the hotel pretty early and went to ask the tourist bureau what I should go see. There were some bus tours that looked promising, but it was too late to do any of them. Kumamoto looked pretty spread out and, as I mentioned, it was HOT so I just asked if there was any beer to be had. I went to the closer place they mentioned and it had two craft beers: Yona Yona (from Tokyo) and something from Brooklyn Brewing. Yeesh. The kid there was nice and went to SWOCC! (Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay!) He suggested the other place that the tourist bureau also suggested.
THere’s a fancy hotel on the hill, the Shiroyama Hotel Kagoshima, and there’s a free bus to get up to it. It’s a fancy hotel, so this dude with a bellman sort of uniform asked me what I wanted and he had to run in to find out where I could go. They sat me in a “bridal lounge” (a very sterile room) and I had the tasting set.
On my way out I had to ask where the beer was made. It was after 5pm but they said I could go down and check out the brewery! The brewer was quite friendly and used a lot of hops from Washington.
It’s a 250L system (approximately 2.5 barrels) and it takes two batches to fill the maturation tanks that are only 500L. We got to talking and he said I went to the wrong part of the hotel and there’s a bar with more taps. He gave me a couple tastes off the zwickel, a nice hazy and a Brut IPA.
On the way out he told me to check out a taproom not far from my hotel. The burgers there were great and they had a couple of Japanese craft beers on tap. They had the rugby game on, though, and I “had to” keep buying beers until it was over.
And that’s about it.