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    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, and it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.
    • Summer
      • Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Outdoor Japan Organic Market Online

        Market Watch: Summer Organics Delivered

        Go online shopping for organic vegetables and support local farmers throughout Japan.
    • Autumn
      • video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi by Camper Van

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Winter
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
    • River and Lake
      • Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • hiroshima skiing osorakan snow parkvideo

        Hiroshima Skiing at Osorakan Snow Park

        Enjoy skiing and snowboarding just an hour from Hiroshima at Osorakan Snow Park. Every winter, people from Kansai and Kyushu flock to one of the region’s most popular ski resorts for winter fun.
    • Travel
      • Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Outdoor Japan Organic Market Online

        Market Watch: Summer Organics Delivered

        Go online shopping for organic vegetables and support local farmers throughout Japan.
        Outdoor Japan Kodo Bee Farm

        Honey Business in Tokushima

        Honeybees at Kodo Bee Farm thrive in Tokushima's rich nature and contribute to the local ecosystem while producing delicious honey.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Outdoor Japan Organic Market Online

        Market Watch: Summer Organics Delivered

        Go online shopping for organic vegetables and support local farmers throughout Japan.
        Outdoor Japan Kodo Bee Farm

        Honey Business in Tokushima

        Honeybees at Kodo Bee Farm thrive in Tokushima's rich nature and contribute to the local ecosystem while producing delicious honey.
    • Races and Events
      • Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.
        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these fireworks festivals held throughout Japan this summer and autumn.
        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.
        summer events omm lite and bike hakuba

        2021 Summer Events and Races in Japan

        Check out upcoming events and races held throughout Japan this summer and early fall.

Kampai! in Kansai

Kansai has been long known for its excellent cuisine, from Kyoto’s refined kyō-ryori dishes to the famous wagyū beef of Kobe, Shiga, and Mie, to Osaka’s okonomiyaki and takoyaki. Nada (in Kobe) and Fushimi (in Kyoto) also have the country’s highest concentration of sake breweries, and these two districts produce nearly half of all of Japan’s sake. So, naturally, the region is also among the nation’s leaders in craft beer production. With the heat of summer upon us, thirsty Kansai residents and visitors alike can turn to an ever-increasing number of local breweries and beer bars for a cold glass of tasty alternatives to mass-produced light lager.

Kyoto Brewing’s beers are well suited for summer, as the brewer, Chris Hainge, primarily works with a Belgian yeast strain that tends to ferment dry, making their ales crisp and refreshing. Their Belgian wheat, Nagoriyuki (5%), is filled with delectable fruit flavors including lemon and banana, while Ichii Senshin (6.5%), a Belgian IPA that is one of their flagships, has a little more body but still goes down easily because its spicy yeast adds complexity to the pine and citrus American hops. The summer saison, Natsu no Kimagure, wasn’t on tap yet when I dropped by their taproom (open Saturdays and Sundays, with a fun beer garden that gets busy on sunny afternoons), but Chris said he would use lactic acid bacteria to give it a little tartness, which should help make it deliciously easy to drink.

A little further south, Hainge’s friend Ai Tani has majorly impacted Osaka’s beer scene with her Craft Beer Base network of bars, bottle shops and, recently, original beers. Tani told me she started the original Base in late 2016 because some mainstays of the Osaka craft beer scene had closed and she wanted to create a new home for this culture. The original CBB is a small bar near Osaka Station with a few taps and an extensive cellar featuring hard-to-find bottles imported from Europe and the U.S. (for consumption on premises or takeaway). It has been successful enough that Tani has opened five new locations including Branch, a standing bar focused on her own beers and nitro coffee, Bud, a taproom in Osaka Station with a mix of Japanese and foreign beers, and Garden, a small brewery and taproom with a beer garden patio perfect for warm weather. So far, CBB’s house beers have focused on the American pale ale and IPA categories, but Tani says she is starting to work with Belgian yeast, with a witbier (Belgian white) in the works.

Of course it’s not just new upstarts who have tasty beers to offer. Two of Kansai’s longest-running microbreweries have had some great new releases recently. Ise Kadoya (opened 1997) has heard the siren song of the Northeast IPA (known for haziness, intensely fruity aromas, and low bitterness) and is putting out delicious examples like Neko Ni Hiki (8%) and Refresh (6%), which burst with juicy hop flavors like orange and mango. Osaka-based Minoh Beer (also founded in 1997) has also been playing with combinations of Belgian yeasts and American hops. Their Blooming IPA (6%) is fruitier and more hop-forward than most of Kyoto Brewing’s offerings, with a softer mouthfeel, kind of like a hybrid between the Northeast IPA and Belgian IPA styles. 

If you find yourself in Kansai this summer, be sure to drink plenty of water (it’s hot!) but also don’t miss the tasty local beer selections.

Festival Roundup

  • May 25–26 – Craft Beer Live (Osaka)
  • May 29–June 2 – Keyaki Beer Festival (Saitama)
  • June 7–17 – Hibiya Garden (Tokyo)
  • June 27–July 7 – Belgian Beer Weekend (Tokyo)
  • July 11–July 21 – Belgian Beer Weekend (Osaka)
  • July 27–28 – Shizuoka Craft Beer & Whiskey Fair
  • August 23–25 – National Ji-Biiru Festival (Ichinoseki, Iwate)
  • August 23–September 1 – Kyushu Beer Festival (Kumamoto)
  • August 30–September 8 – Hibiya Garden 2 (Tokyo)
  • September 11–16 – Belgian Beer Weekend (Tokyo)
  • September 14–15 – Mikkeller Beer Celebration (Tokyo)
  • September 18–23 – Kyushu Beer Festival (Fukuoka)
  • September 28–29 – Craft Beer Kanazawa
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