Along your journeys through Japan, you will invariably encounter Yebisu Beer, one of the most popular beers in the country along with Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo. If you enjoy beer, it is worth giving each a try, since they all have their own distinct flavor and quality to them. Of course, if you were to ask the average Japanese which is the highest quality out of the four (Yebisu, Asahi, Kirin, or Sapporo), the answer with almost always be Yebisu. I guess that would make Yebisu the King of Japanese beers, but more appropriately, it should be termed the God of Japanese beers thanks to its symbolic patron.
Japanese used to worship many kami, or gods. Like other polytheistic religions, kami are associated with certain elements of nature, occupations, or feelings. No, Yebisu is not the designated God of Beer--he's actually the god of fishermen and luck (hence the fact that he's always pictured carrying around a giant catch). However, when the founders of Yebisu Beer decided to establish a brewery in Tokyo in 1887, they thought it would be appropriate to link their beer to the lucky, jovial kami. Pair the name and symbol with a recipe developed with a visiting German brewmaster, and you have the origins of the Yebisu Beer that many know and love today.
All of this is captured in the Yebisu Beer Museum in Yebise Garden Place (a short walk away from Ebisu Station). The museum is small, but certainly not modest. In it, you'll find the following:
Yebisu greets you as you enter the main hall of the Yebisu Beer Museum. Be aware that the little black sign on the right kindly requests that you refrain from stepping on the effigy of Yebisu. At the base of the stairs going down from the giant symbol of Yebisu, there is a counter where you can sign up for a tour. It is not necessary to pay to explore the museum, but the tour offers a guide (with multiple language options) and a beer sampling (two varieties) at the end of the tour.
Throughout the museum are art pieces such as the one pictured above. Some incorporate modern aesthetics, while others include traditional-style paintings and statues.
Of course, the museum offers the history of Yebisu, dating back to the inception of the brewery. Pictured above is what the beer bottle looked like in 1890, and the original brewery is pictured in the background. The historical gallery is not very big (only about a 15-minute walkthrough without a guide), but it captures the key facts about the beer and its heritage well.
The gift shop offers more than what you would expect from a beer museum shop. The theme is heritage and enjoyment of Yebisu beer, meaning that there are lots of cool reminders of Yebisu's past (like the old advertisement pictured in the puzzle), and things like specially designed beer glasses and food pairing options (osembe crackers, etc.).
On to the best part: the tasting salon. Here, you can purchase a sampling of different Yebisu brews. All you have to do is make your selection at the ticket machine (off-picture to the right) and pick up at a counter (pictured in the background). There is ample seating for you and your travel mates to take a load off and enjoy some delicious beer!
There you have it: the Yebisu Beer Museum. Considering Beer didn't exist in the times when the Japanese Gods were becoming a part of public consciousness, it's safe to say that if there was a reassignment of deity to object, Yebisu would earn the title, and there is no better way to pay homage than to visit the museum and enjoy a cold brew!
P.S. Before somebody corrects me by saying that Yebisu is part of Sapporo Beer Company, it is only a subsidiary, so the recipes and products differ greatly in flavor!