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First Guests in 2024

Sake, food, snow - winter Yamagata has everything you want!


We just welcomed the firsts guests from Singapore between 5 - 7 February 2024.


The British-and-Taiwanese couple was the first guests for the Akasaka Sake Tasting in July 2023. They said that they would love to join our sake tour in Yamagata one day in the future. After half a year, we were so happy to have them back.


Day 1


They arrived at Yamagata at around noon on Monday. The Yamagata Beef lunch was waiting for them. The restaurant is called "Sagoro", whose beef is so nice.



Once we managed to satisfy their stomach, we headed to Shuho Sake Brewery, a prominent brewery in Yamagata. The brewery master, Mr Aida, kindly guided us. Very fortunately, because we were in the brewery right at the time when sake was pressed, the guests were lucky enough to taste the very freshly pressed sake. I cannot forget the happy face of the guests.



Once we had a quick look at Yamadera, we headed to the ryokan of the night - Tendo Onsen Yunoka Matsunoyu, which is a traditional and heart-warming Japanse-style hotel in Tendo. They were treated well with hospitality of the ryokan and quality of food (and sake)!


Day 2


The second day started from Mitobe Sake Brewery, a brewery that has become popular with their flagship sake called "Yamagata Masamune". It was very nice to be able to walk around the lively kura (brewery) and taste very fresh sake.



We then had a lunch at a middle-of-nowhere soba restaurant called Keyaki-an. Their soba and ramen are very good - I would recommend that you try there, even when you are not with me.


The next stop was Woodyfarm Winery, a famous winery in Kaminoyama, Yamagata, the area popular for grapes. Though the winery was quiet, the tasting and navigation by the winery member were so unique.



The dinner of the night was at a superb izakaya called Shoei in the city centre. They offer premium sake free flow! In my opinion, their sake selection is second to none.



Day 3


Hirashimizu area in Yamagata was once very well known as the place for pottery. If you know Japanese pottery, you might have heard of Imari or Arita as the places for pottery. In the old days, Hirashimizu-yaki was something that people admired. Today, there are only two potteries left in Hirashimizu, and Story of Sake partners one of them.


We invited the guests to Hirashimizu to make their bowl and sake container, and the guests did a very good job!



 

And there is another reason why Hirashimizu is essential for Story of Sake. A long-haired sake professional Taro Kumagai, who is the husband of a sister of the pottery master, runs an expert sake shop called “La Jomon” in Hirashimizu. He is there to provide you with the professional sake tasting session. He is an ex-brewer at Mitobe Sake Brewery and has turned his career to become a sake shop owner to bring the best sake to us.

 

The session he provides was. as always, so deep, and the sake was very delicious. As the guests had some knowledge about sake, they were able to fully understand the deep session.



For lunch, because the guests wanted to have cutlet curry, we headed to a pork restaurant ran by a pig farm. Their tonkatsu is very delicious.


As the final destination, we went to Nikka's Miyagikyo Whiskey Distillary located in between Yamagata and Sendai. After an hour of drive from Yamagata, suddenly in the middle of nowhere there appears a huge distillary where world's famous Japanese whiskey is distilled. The guests enjoyed the walking tour as well as the tasting.



The journey ended at a hotel near Sendai Station so that they can have a look at Tohoku (north east part of Japan)'s largest city and can fly out to their next destination (Taiwan) from Sendai Airport the next day. We are so glad to have guided them and to have continued to see their happy facesover the course of three days!

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