Sipping sake like a local

From the snow monkeys, a long day of travel (train-train-bus) brought us to Takayama in the Japan Alps. After loving our time in Furano and Shibu Onsen, we were excited for more time in and around the white stuff.

A relatively small town (by Japanese standards), we checked into a cozy hostel (think heaters under the tables and slippers) and then explored the old part of town:

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And wandered around some pretty hillside temples:

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At the hostel we had signed up for a free sake and food tour (as the guide was in training), so the next day we headed to one of the six sake breweries in town.

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The greener the ball above the door, the newer the sake

We learnt how sake is made (a combination of rice, koji (rice mould) and water), the different variations and saw inside the tiny brewery.

Soon, however it was time for cooking and tasting. We made a few dishes using sake and some of the by-products. I can’t say we loved everything (it all tasted very miso-y), but as it was lunchtime we were hungry, so gobbled it up anyway.

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Using the Japanese version of a pestle and mortar
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Two types of sake with fried tofu and sweet potatoes with miso

Then it was on to the tastings, we tried three sakes of different ages (I preferred the cheapest youngest one) and a some delicious plum wine (I later had this mixed with whisky in a bar). It all went down very well and we wobbled our way back to the hostel.

The following day we headed to the open air cultural museum on the outskirts of town. Here we saw original country houses from the 1700s which had been moved and rebuilt. It was interesting how modern the interiors looked as they were so minimalist and chic.

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The ‘village’ around a frozen lake
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Interior
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Gassho house

I also had a go on a sled without much success:

Next and final stop in Japan: Kyoto

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