If you are looking for a new experience, and tired of the common sightseeing route in the metropolitan Tokyo, why not trying something natural and still be local? Let me share an ideal experience of a relaxing fruitful day at the neighborhood - Katsunuma of Yamanashi Prefecture.
Katsunuma is a town located in Koshu city, north of Mount Fuji. You can get there by JR Chuo Line Limited Express "Azusa" or "Kaiji", just one and a half hours from Shinjuku Station and get off at Katsunuma-budokyo Station.
When you step out from JR Katsunuma-budokyo Station, you will be immediately overwhelmed by the beautiful view and fresh smell of the vineyard. The Japanese wine country and grape kingdom is ahead!
Many people know Japan for its famous rice wine (sake) and plum wine (ume-shu), but it is rarely known that its cultivating and brewing skills also extend to the western alcoholic beverage "wine!".
With the clear water, distinctive soil makes, and also not to mention the fantastic view of Mount Fuji, Yamanashi Prefecture is gifted an ideal environment for growing wine grapes and the main winemaking region in Japan.
I am neither a sommelier nor a wine expert, but I love to try different kinds of Japanese wine. The local wine-tasting centre, Budo-no-Oka (Grape Hill), satisfies my curiosity and thirst for the Japanese wine.
The wine-tasting centre is located just five minutes by taxi from Katsunuma-budokyo station. The underground wine tasting cave there shows about two hundred different varieties of wine selected by the city. There's more! You can taste all of them without limit just by buying a traditional tasting cup called "Tastevin" (1,100 yen).
After wavering through numbers of tasty bottles, I finally chose a bottle of white wine that was made of the famous Japanese wine grape - Koshu. Yes, it is the city name!
To know more about Koshu wine, visiting a winery may be a nice touch. Many wineries in Katsunuma welcome visitors and wine lovers.
Besides a taste of Japanese wine, what about a fresh bite of Japanese grape?
Grape picking is very popular in Katsunuma during August to October. Many grape varieties can be found in the local grape farms, such as Delaware, Kyoho, Fujiminori, Pione, Rubel Muscat, Bailey-A, Koshu, etc. Their harvest schedules are different. Local farmers are always nice to give recommendation.
My first choice is Kyoho, the king of grape. Its intensive sweetness and juicy taste are so unforgettable!
Feeling hungry? Don't miss the famous local dish of Yamanashi Prefecture, the Houtou noodle, which is cooked with pumpkin and vegetables in miso soup. There is a local restaurant nearby and it gave me a perfect ending to my day trip there.
Take a short break from a busy life and savor the natural Japan.
Have a good day in Katsunuma!
Name: Stephanie Lau
From: Hong Kong
Current section: Overseas e-Commerce and Marketing, Web Sales Dept.
Hours: Wine Cave: 9:00 to 17:30 (last entry: 17:00), Wine Shop: 8:00 to 20:00
Address: 5093 Hishiyama, Katsunuma-cho, Koshu City, Yamanashi (Zip code:409-1302)
Website: http://budounooka.com/ (in Japanese only)