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The sake cave and the Japanese countryside

Is there anything cooler than a cave filled with aging sake bottles? I highly doubt that. Walking through the tunnels filled with sake bottles feels like being in a movie, a very delicious one. But let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

I spent a day in the gorgeous, yet not famous, Tochigi prefecture and I had a very pleasant day filled with adventures. For this, I really need to thank Nearby Tokyo and Sake Voyage for arranging this experience.

Tochigi has a bit of everything for everybody to enjoy: hiking, nature, good food, and relaxing spots.

I took the train from Tokyo to Nasukarasuyama where I rented a (assisted)bicycle to explore the area. I am totally uncoordinated and I know that there are other people like me out there so listen if I made it, literally anyone can. The first thing to check out here is the Ryumon waterfalls. The waterfalls are surrounded by beautiful green scenery, and there is also a cute cafè with a balcony that opens right in front of the waterfall. Perfect for a coffee or simply to enjoy the view.

At a short walking distance, there is the Taiheiji Temple, which was founded around 1200 years ago. I have never seen a place like this before. Here the time has really stopped and the silence and peace of the surroundings with just the sound of the waterfall and the birds chirping will energize you.

Next, a visit to the sake cave is a must. The cave is owned by Shimazaki Brewery (you need to make a reservation in advance) which uses the cave to age its award-winning sake. It is quite large inside and there is even an entire area dedicated to bottles purchased by customers that buy sake only to be able to enjoy it years after to celebrate special occasions like weddings or coming of age ceremonies and such.

After visiting the cave, it’s time to cycle to the brewery and finally taste some delicious sake. The tasting room is right above the store (a smart move if you ask me) and the atmosphere is sophisticated, with a mix of Japanese and western decor.

The tasting is focused on their famous aged sake. This really helps the consumers to understand how sake changes within a few years span. This experience is Informative and delicious at the same time. Plus, the staff is really friendly and willing to help from the tasting to the purchase, because let’s be honest, you’re going to end up buying some sake to take home for sure.

My favourite sake of the day is their aged yamahai, which coincidentally is getting really popular in Italy (what a small world!) so I had to purchase a bottle. It’s mature, deep, earthy, and beautifully balanced. The only thing left to do is enjoy the train ride home while thinking of a good pairing for dinner!

Spoiler alert: it pairs nicely with creamy pasta dishes, bolognese sauce and meat *chef’s kiss*

@Shimazakishuzou @savevoyage @nearbytokyo

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