Hiking & Wine Tasting

Our Easter weekend started out on a decidedly secular note as I hiked over ALL of Tokyo on Friday (in high heels) to find these:

I saw an advertisement for them a few weeks ago and had my heart set on getting a surprise box for B. For some inexplicable reason, I failed to investigate the distance to the nearest Krispy Kreme before setting off on foot...and then it took me 2 hours to find the shop. As I type this (4 days later), it is still hard to believe. Lesson deeply learned. I swear, from now on, I will google directions to the kitchen before I get off the couch.

Saturday morning, we caught the 6:30 am train out of Tokyo and headed to a tiny town out west called Kofu. We started our 'explore Kofu' mission with a hike along a mountain range. I have nothing more to say about this as every sign was in kanji. I'll describe it through an excessive amount of pictures:

super foggy up here

There were many signs of (or perhaps 'for'!?) owls. Odd. Or perhaps not at all odd...as for all I know, the sign reads 'This is called Owl Mountain'. Language classes aren't going well.

Our hike ended at a lodge that had the customary 'ol teeter totter out front. Obviously. What's a hike through the mountains of Japan without a little seesawing at the end, you know?

Fun in the lodge...clockwise:
1. Enormous tea kettle.
2. Chopsticks...even though the food at this establishment appears to be pre-skewered.
3. Pre-skewered food balls

After briefly exploring the lodge, we ventured into the main part of town and found a place for lunch. We couldn't read the menu, but Boz pointed to a delicious-looking noodle bowl and I chose an equally fantastic fish and mushroom dish.

We were then clued into the fact that someone is out to kill us, as we were presented this as a complementary 'appetizer':

This is a gelatinous blob of poison with a miso paste topping, served on a bamboo stick. Fortunately, our entrees were delectable (and we are apparently immortal).

After lunch, we hopped on a bus and headed out on our very first wine-tasting tour in Japan! Those of you who know me, pick up your jaw. Yes, it's true. I made it 2 months without hitting up a winery. (And I will never let that happen again. You only live once. I completely squandered two whole months! Gah!)

So...yeah...Japanese wineries. How to put this? They are God's finest creation. It's fitting that we discovered this the day before celebrating the Resurrection as this is truly His masterpiece. Most Japanese wineries DO NOT CHARGE for tastings. There is a little bin with tiny plastic cups at the entrance and everyone is free to fill up their cups (FOR FREE) as many times as they choose. We visited 3 wineries and this was the status-quo at the first two, where we were presented with about 20 different tastes. The 3rd stop charged an $11 entry fee but also provided us both with a silver chalice 'necklace' to wear and use as a cup. In addition to the wine chalice, the $11 also bought us UNLIMITED tastings of...oh, I don't know...about 100... delicious wines!!! My mind simply exploded. Boz's mind also exploded as he exclaimed "Why is this exciting you!?!? You ALWAYS drink as though wine has no price!!" Solid point.

The 1st two wineries looked like this. All the wines for tasting were
displayed on barrels and we sipped out of little plastic cups.

And then we arrived at the pearly gate and were presented our wine chalices.

This map would lead one to believe that it's possible to hike to the various wineries in the region. Pffft. Let's be real. No one is leaving here in hiking condition.

View of wine country out the window of the bus

So it wasn't Napa, but it was scenic, relaxing, and a welcome surprise. It's nice to know that wine tasting is available when the mood strikes (I'm guessing at least monthly).