Erupting from the rolling hills of Tottori prefecture, Mt. Daisen (大山) dominates the already impressive landscape. Sometimes referred to as Hoki-no-fuji (伯耆富士), the Fuji of the Hoki region, the monolithic volcano has made its mark on the surrounding culture for as long as people have inhabited the Japanese archipelago. In the earliest Shinto creation myths, the mountain was revered as both the home of Kagu-tsuchi (god of fire) and as a god in its own right: capturing hearts and minds throughout Japan. During all seasons, the peak is tackled by hundreds of climbers. They come for many reasons: to check off another hyakumeizan (the 100 famous peaks of Japan), to pray at Daisen Temple, to photograph local birds and scenery, or to watch the mountainside ablaze in annual fire festivals. But once a year in early June, both Japanese and foreigners descend (ascend?) upon the mountain to consume prodigious amounts of craft beer at the Daisen G-Beer Festival (地ビール祭り大山).
Being an avid connoisseur of both Japanese mountains and beer, I feared Kagu-tsuchi might smite me if I were not in attendance last year. And so it was, I found myself next to my closest climbing comrade, drunk on convenience store wine, riding a late night bus from Kyoto station to “Daisen Parking” bus stop. The plan was to roll into the festival campsite around midnight, pitch our tent and sleep for two hours, then bomb up the slope for a glorious sunrise to begin our weekend booze-fest. Apart from absurdly high, late-night taxi rates and a near-fatal encounter with oncoming traffic, everything went better than expected; we were fast asleep beneath tent and stars before the new day—the wind singing a lullaby through the trees. Continue reading “Daisen G-Beer Festival”