How to enjoy yourself at Orion Beer Festival
By David Higgins One of the greatest things you can enjoy in your life is beer. It is my opinion that beer should be a staple in everyone’s diet, like bread. Every year on Okinawa one of my favorite festivals of all time arrives; the All-Okinawa Eisa Festival and Koza Orion Beer Fest. The Orion Beer Fest’s motto is “For your happy time!” and is a time where people can enjoy and celebrate beer. This article is for all the people under drinking restrictions that could not go and see what this festival was all about.
As the Orion Beer Fest is a 2-day event, I decided to celebrate the beer festival on Saturday. I walked to the event as I am an avid yearly participant in this beer festival, and I was very aware of the tricky parking and taxi situation after the event ends. It took me 30 minutes of walking uphill to the stadium located in Okinawa City and I was very thirsty when I finally arrived. Once I got about a half a mile from the arena I could hear the drums of the Eisa Dancers and singing – lyrics that I swore were “the beer is here“.
Once you get to the gates they check your identification to ensure no minors are getting their sneaky lips anywhere near beer. Admission is free and after you receive your wristband you are let loose in an arena of beer addicts. The arena is circle shaped and is actually a sand baseball field with tables upon tables of beer drinkers surrounded by Orion beer vendors sloshing draft into cups. The price of beer was ¥300 a cup which is about $3 USD. It was very reasonably priced for the value, which in turn probably caused excess consumption!
I arrived at about 7 pm so I missed the live music performances, but every year local Okinawan groups gather to perform music and dance for interested spectators and enhance the beer-drinking experience.
Okinawa is such a small island that I pretty much saw everyone I knew or hadn’t seen in a while, and got to catch up with all that is happening in their lives. As the evening drew to a close, which is 8:45 pm in Okinawa, fireworks lit up the sky. The tune of “Auld Lang Syne” accompanied last call at 9 pm. North Americans associate Auld Lang Syne with New Year’s Eve; however, in Okinawa and various other countries this song is actually a traditional tune to bid farewell and end occasions.
Feeling nostalgic, either from the song or the beer, I immediately called my wife and she picked me up at our meeting spot, away from the rush of people that flooded the streets looking for taxis or trying desperately to get out of their parking spots.
Overall, the Orion Beer Festival was a great success, but for those who didn’t have a chance to participate due to the drinking restrictions, it is hoped that you will be able to attend next year’s festival.