Ideas blossom in Germany's beer gardens - Universität Stuttgart

Ms Kayoko Imaiida, 2nd year masters student, Department of Built Environment, Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

Behind our dormitories: Many students enjoy walking, jogging and cycling around the grounds. Behind our dormitories: Many students enjoy walking, jogging and cycling around the grounds.

Christmas market: Stuttgart is famous for having the largest Christmas market in Germany. Christmas market: Stuttgart is famous for having the largest Christmas market in Germany.

The spring festival beer hall: We enjoy a spring version of Oktoberfest in April. (Kayoko Imaiida (left)) The spring festival beer hall: We enjoy a spring version of Oktoberfest in April. (Kayoko Imaiida (left))

As an exchange student, I study city planning in Stuttgart, Germany. The most attractive aspect of studying in a foreign country for a while is that we can discover some cultural differences and think more about our own country from the outside, making a comparison between the two countries.

"Ein Bier bitte." I'm sure that you hear that phrase frequently in Germany. My favorite scene is that of people enjoying themselves drinking in beer gardens, and I have found that it's a really good experience to drink up a large jug under the shade of trees. Surprisingly, in 1999 the local government of Bavaria introduced some unique regulations for beer gardens. A beer garden is a place that must be defined by two main characteristics. Firstly, it has to have an atmosphere like a courtyard surrounded by trees. Secondly, visitors are allowed to bring foods from their own home. I was greatly impressed that people in Bavaria have understood the importance of beer gardens as part of their cultural traditions and have tried to protect it.

Do we have places where we could enjoy such comfortable times in our Japanese cities? Tokyo is one of the busiest cities in the world. Although the high quality of convenience and service is really magnetic, I've seen too many people looking tired. In the near future, facing a declining population, many Japanese cities will become more compact and get more open spaces. So I have come up with a humorous idea for the open space in Tokyo: we should plant many more cherry trees! It is great to imagine people enjoying Hanami, the Japanese tradition of seeing cherry blossoms, everywhere in the cities in spring. This spring I missed Hanami very much, and this made me realize that we have a different, beautiful culture that allows us to enjoy relaxing times in Japan. I think that Hanami is as fantastic to the Japanese as beer gardens are to the Germans. I strongly want to help create a future for Japan in which people value their cultural traditions and enjoy their lives.

Tokyo Institute of Technology Bulletin No.27 (August, 2012)