Every year, the Industrial Revolution collides with the American Prohibition Era in early September at the city of Nagareyama’s annual Ryutetsu Beer Train Festival. Held right on the train tracks at Nagareyama Station, ticketholders are welcomed with smooth jazz music, a unique variety of cuisine from various food booths, and of course a good taste of all the locally brewed beer. The festival is enjoyed by both children and adults, as it is a rare opportunity to look at trains up closely, and explore the inside of the train yard.
But first, let’s talk a little bit about the Ryutetsu Nagareyama Train Line. It is a vintage train line from back in 1916 that started out as a cargo train line. Then in 1933, it started carrying passengers, and has loyally continued to transport riders back and forth between Nagareyama and its neighboring city of Matsudo to this day. The station, train, and train yard still carry its quaint ambiance from back in the day, and holds a special place in the hearts of the citizens of Nagareyama. Sort of as a tribute to the Ryutetsu Train Line’s route, the handmade craft beer that is served at the Beer Train Festival is brewed in different areas of Nagareyama and Matsudo.
The live jazz bands that perform at the event are usually also from local areas. In 2023, the Ootaka Water Quartets, TAPAS, and Kamimura Hideo & the Tenshin Band entertained guests with their smooth jazz music. The live music helps create the cool vibes to go along with the festival’s central focus on the craft beer, making you feel like you were at a speakeasy during the Prohibition Era. Guests have a fun time sampling each of the locally brewed beers, and getting lost in the music.
And let’s not forget about the food. Several local restaurants set up shop at the event, like Brasserie Shinkawa, who serve freshly made omelets and roast beef, Café & Bal Kura Gokoro, who serve Spicy Edamame Pepperoncino pasta and potato ice cream, and Nagareyama Bombay, who serve Wagyu Beef Curry from their iconic food truck. There are always many flavors of cuisine to be found at the event.
If you are among the lucky few to score a Premium ticket, you can also enjoy these delicacies from the comfort of a train car. Tables are set up on board the (air-conditioned!) train so that ticketholders can eat, drink, and enjoy the live performances in an exclusive area away from the crowds. Even if you just got a General Admission ticket however, you didn’t miss out on the train car experience. Another train is also set up as a rest area, and though this train didn’t have tables set up like in the Premium Seating areas, you can still get away from the crowds, enjoy the music, and get a good look of the Ryutetsu train from the inside.
The Ryutetsu Beer Train Festival is truly a surreal experience, where guests can step back through time as they walked along the tracks of the historic Ryutetsu Train Line, with the live music and colored lights adding to the ambiance. If you find yourself in Nagareyama around this time next year, why not buy a ticket to come aboard for this one-of-a-kind experience?