Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Japan Winter Holiday 2017 Part 8 - Sake Factory

Do you remember about the Tanaka Sake Brewery visit I mentioned a few posts back? Well DH really wanted to see the actual factory and he was disappointed that we didn't get to see it the previous day. Thus, we made a special trip to the slightly further Tanaka Sake Brewery Factory where you can actually see the making of their sake. It's this one here, peeps! Don't go to the wrong one!

We walked from Marchen Square to this location and it was obvious that it was outside the touristy area. The feel is already very different. Not in a bad way, but different.

It was about 1 km away, but Miss Kiki had always been a good walker. To keep her from boredom, DH entertained her with snowballs. We thought that the snowball maker was a very useful toy in terms of how much it helped us along the way. :D

They left 'markers' along the way... snowballs everywhere.

We arrived at the factory! We could tell right away that this was much larger than the one we visited the day before. Hanging from the roof were icicles, formed slanted instead of straight down like what we usually see. We're still not quite sure what caused the icicles to go that way...

Slanted icicles

There were several doors you can take to enter the building, and they will lead you to the store area on the ground floor. This was a larger store compared to the other location, but at this place the tasting area was not in a separate room.

I asked the staff about the factory tour. They gave us information sheets and told us to go upstairs to the second floor. It was a self guided tour with not only sample displays but we were able to see the actual process. They had step-by-step information posters on the wall but only in Japanese. Don't worry though, you can get the same information from your information sheets they gave you downstairs.
Old style grain mill (display)
If you are interested in knowing the making process, zoom in this picture first before proceeding to the next pictures.

Info sheet

Kouji Bacteria

Polished rice

We were lucky to have arrived just before they turned and wrapped the rice...

Steamed rice fermenting

Turning the rice

Gathering rice

Packing rice

Wrapping rice

Pressed and separated

After we finished our tour, we went downstairs to do some more tasting. I informed the girl that we already bought sake at the other store, but we wanted to try some more. In the end we bought a small bottle of sake here.

These small barrels are so cute

Sake with Gold
After the tour and tasting, Miss Kiki was rewarded with extra snow time for being patient inside. :)

When we walked back, we saw a car dealer with a bunch of funny looking Hondas in the parking lot.

We walked back towards our hotel through Sakaimachi again. By this time, we were starving. We did skip lunch afterall...

We couldn't decide what to eat, especially with Miss Kiki being rather picky that day. In the end she requested to go back to Sushi Zanmai again. We didn't mind so we went back and actually got an even better cut of tuna this time around.

After dinner, we walked back to the hotel to pick up our luggages, and this time we decided to walk to the station. It wasn't easy but not too difficult either. The difficult part was when we need to roll on slush...

Well here's a funny story (at least now it seems funny) about our ride to Sapporo. We got on to the train that we had planned to take. After we sat down, I realised that it was a local train that will stop at every station between Otaru Station and Sapporo Station. We saw that there was a semi express train leaving 10 minutes later and we made a quick decision to take that instead. We jumped off the train with our suitcases right before train left.... only to find that DH's backpack was still on the train in the overhead compartment!

I sent DH and Miss Kiki to wait for the next train while I ran to the customer service booth. With my limited Japanese mixed with English and some Tarzan language, I managed to ask them to inform the Sapporo Station lost and found about our backpack. Kiki's backpack, our newly bought sake, my Glass souvenirs from Otaru, and DH's mirrorless Olympus was in it! I think if I had had more time I would've been able to explain the situation in English slowly and get the same result, but I was pressed on time. Missing that train that we jumped off for would be horrible! The sad thing was, when I asked what time the local train would arrive in Sapporo, I found out that it would arrive earlier than the semi express train by a few minutes! We should've just stuck to our original plan.....

We were able to catch the semi express train just in time, but there was still no guarantee that we would see our backpack in Sapporo. Thus, when the train conductor passed by, DH told him about our situation and asked what track would that local train arrive on. The conductor spoke better English than the customer service staff, I thought. He understood what we needed and pulled out a book from his back pocket. In the book were small prints of timetables, and from there he was able to tell us where that local train would arrive on. Pretty amazing if you ask me!

As soon as our train reached Sapporo Station, DH ran over to the said platform. Luckily, Sapporo was the last station for that local train and it was parked to be prepared for the next journey on a different platform. DH took a peek and saw his backpack in the train where we had left it, but the train was locked. Someone told him that the train would leave again later from a different platform and he should wait until then. 

That's what he did and he got his backpack back all intact. Phew! What a crazy experience! We then went to our hotel and checked in, but that's for the next post.

Until next time!