Three points of interest were included in our ITT trip to the Yamanashi prefecture. The first was at the Shichiken Sake Brewery. We left Yokosuka at 6:30am and arrived at the brewery around 10am. Here was our route. It took us longer than the projected 2.5 hours because the bus has to stop every two hours for a driver change. Safety is paramount. 

The Sake Brewery tour was interesting. We were required to wear a hair net and remove our shoes. 

The hair net! So, cute and small and so Japanese! 

One size fits all slippers were provided. 

I have never seen such a clean and organized Brewery. These pictures show the various stages of the rice being washed. The worker is dumping rice into the washer. 

Something living in Japan has taught me: always rinse your rice! 

After being washed, the rice is placed in these huge tubs with water, yeast, and malts. The ingredients age for 30 days. The alcohol content increases as the rice sits in the tubs. We were cautious not to fall into the huge tubs as the sign advised. The best quote from the tour was about the bubbles formed in the fermentation process. It was translated as “rice moss” by our tour guide. “Rice moss makes sugar.” 

Rice moss. 

We had an opportunity to stir the fermenting rice. 

After the 30 day fermentation, the rice is pressed to remove the Sake. The fancy Sake (very expensive) is not pressed. It is instead allowed to drip patiently into the barrels. 

After our tour, Sonia and I had the opportunity to taste the Sake. We were given one free taste. We purchased two additional tastings for ¥100 ($1.00) each. 

We left the Brewery around 11:30 and went to the Sobadokoro-Izumi. Here we were able to make our own Soba noodles for lunch. It was quite an intense process. It took about an hour! We were paired up with a group of four. The child with them became the expert Soba maker. Fortunately, we also had a sweet Japanese lady directing us and helping us! Step one: sift the flower. 

Step two: add water to flour and mix. 

Step three: kneed the dough

Step four: roll out dough. The long rolling pin was used in a traditional manner in the beginning. Then, the dough was actually wrapped around the pin and rolled. This created even thinner dough. 

Step five: fold the dough. 

Step six: cut the dough. 

Step seven: boil the dough for 1 minute! 

Step eight: EAT!! 

Our last stop of the day was at the Jissoji Temple. Here we were able to see the a Sakura tree over 2,000 years old!! The tree was amazing. Unfortunately, we were about a week too early for the blooms. The tree has numerous posts and wraps to help it stay upright. 

There were several different Sakura. Unfortunately, not yet blooming. 

The daffodils were my favorite! 

Sonia and I both decided we want to take a small Sakura tree home with us. 

It was a little disappointing not to be able to see the trees in bloom. But, the temple was cool and I was able to get a pretty detailed stamp. 

My stamp. 

After our visit at the Jissoji Temple, we made the voyage back home. It was a great day experiencing different aspects of Japanese culture. And a great kickoff to my staycation!