- January 04 2016
Enjoy Chestnuts And Sake In Obuse, Nagano Prefecture
Obuse attracts tourists from home and abroad. Have you heard of the town? This town is the smallest town in Nagano Prefecture with a population of about 11,000. However, 1,200,000 tourists come to the town each year. What makes the town so popular? Let’s find out!
History Of Obuse And Obuse-do
Because of its position along the Chikuma River, Obuse had first begun to economically flourish during the Edo era, until traffic infrastructure developed. After that infrastructure was created, Obuse went into a steady decline.
However, the town has come back as a major tourist center since the Ichimura Family built Obuse-doh. The family has owned the Sake brewery called Masuichi since 1755, and they started producing sweets with chestnuts in 1897. The chestnut became the town’s specialty.
Obuse has slowly clawed back as a national destination thanks to its new reputation as “Chestnut Town.”
The town has started cultivating a pro-tourism image to display Obuse’s unique culture. Obuse-doh is the main attraction in the town and the improvements have mainly coalesced around that.
The town resembles some of Japan’s historic streetscapes, like Kyoto, so it attracts many tourists.
Let us show you things Obuse-doh has to offer in this article!
History Of Masuichi Ichimura Brewery And Its Come Back
Again, the Ichimura Family started their business as a Sake brewery in the Edo era (1755), which means their history has continued for over 260 years! The famous Japanese painter Hokusai Katsushika visited the brewery and enjoyed their Sake.
The brewery was on the edge of closing 20 year ago because their sales of Sake had been in a slow decline.
Who saved them from this crisis? The savior of the Japanese Sake came from overseas! Ms. Sarah Marie Cummings was born in Pennsylvania, United States who came to Japan in 1993 as a volunteer during the early stages of preparation for the Nagano Winter Olympics (the event was held in 1998). She put all effort into saving the tradition and the brewery and has since started working there.
Her first major change had to do with the appearance of the Sake.
The bottles were mostly made by glass, but she brought back earthenware teapots to store the Sake; just like old times. She named the Sake “Square-One,” signifying its return to basics. The design on the pot is a unique mixture of the shape of a square and “one” in Kanji.
Deep, smooth, and tasty Sake in a brand-new-look bottle… Square-One was a humongous hit after the renewal of its packaging!
Keeping their traditional methods in making Sake since their business started 260 years ago combined so well with her innovations.
Not only Square-One, but other bottles of their Sake now look sophicticated and edgy. Chestnut sweets and Sake are popular choices for gifts.
Taste Freshly Brewed Sake At The Counter In Masuichi Ichimura Sakaba!
We see the unique and sophisticated-look bottles. That’s cool, but do you question the taste of their Sake?
Masuichi Ichimura Sake Brewery has a counter to sip a little bit of their freshly brewed Sake.
You can taste all kinds of Sake such as Square-One, Hakkin, Hekiiken, Kozan, etc. Price range is around 170-310 yen per cup.
You will receive the silver cup to taste, and s/he serves your choice of Sake.
They all have different tastes, flavours, and dryness. Tasting is good opportunity to develop your knowledge of Sake!
The Ichimura Family owns other facilities in town that house other premises in Obuse.
Kuri No Komichi
Just the outside of the Brewery, there is a little path called Kuri No Komichi, which means chestnut path.
It is called a chestnut path becasue the blocks are made from chestnut trees.
After the path, you will see the square where the other Ichimura Family owned facilities are located.
Great Combination Of Modernism And Tradition: Masuichi Kyakuden Hotel
This building was once one of their breweries which has renovated as a hotel. The exterior is reminiscent of Japanese traditional buildings, but the inside is modern and stylish.
Dinner idea for tonight? Why not make a reservation at Kurabu, which is close to the hotel. The restaurant has also reformed from a brewery building. Kurabu is a very popular restaurant, so be sure to get a reservation!
Enjoy Chestnut Sweets At Obuse-doh
Looking for Obuse’s famous chestnut sweets? Check out Obuse-doh! They have sweets like Mont Blanc, chestnut flavoured ice cream, etc!
Chestnut flavoured ice cream...OH SO GOOD! You will be a fan of the richness of this ice cream!
Lean About Hokusai At Hokusai Kan
The world famous Japanese painter Hokusai Katsushika spent his late life in Obuse. In Hokusai Kan, you can see his Ukiyo-e art and the other competitive painters’ art from that time period in this Hokusai Kan museum. If you like Ukiyo-e art, this is a must-go museum!
Please refer here to see more information:
Hokusai Museum In Obuse, Nagano Prefecture
It is a rare case that just one family which started as brewers and confectioners has been so deeply related to that town’s tourism.
This town has become very popular with tourists from inside and outside of Japan, but Obuse’s never quite been overrun by camera toters and fanny packs. To feel the good-old times of Japan and their laid-back atomosphere, come to Obuse!