Walk Hard

Enjoy a walk through local nature, reward yourself with a taste of local nihonshu

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By Dan Traylor
Published Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 (10:01am)

On the train from Ise, we wondered aloud if we’d find any other people on the walking tour/nihonshu tasting even we were heading for. Sure, the write-up we saw about the events said they were “popular,” but we couldn’t be sure how popular.

Then we changed lines and found two train cars loaded with people decked out in hiking gear. There were backpacks, walking sticks and single-lens-reflex cameras. When we unloaded at Takatsuno Station, a line developed at the men’s toilet.

Welcome to nihonshu country.

The series of tours are a partnership between local brewers and the Kintetsu rail company that begin in December 2001. Each event begins from a Kintetsu station, where after the potty break, the assembled masses grab a map and begin their trek.

About five minutes in to our hike, the path took a steep turn into the wooded hills. We found ourselves gasping for air, struggling to keep up with the decidedly older crowd. At the top, we headed up a side path to a view point, well-guarded by a massive powerline structure that attracted nearly as many shutterbugs as the mountains to the west.

After our descent, we followed the path as it snaked through a local neighborhood, finally arriving at the brewery, where a huge line had formed for a prize drawing. Before trying our luck, we tried some nihonshu. Naturally, the tasting table leads directly to the sales table, where my travel companion dutifully bought a bottle (for her grandfather, she claims).

As the money changed hands and I stood idling, a brewery staffer invited me back to the tasting table for a well-portioned refill. Once, he said, a couple of years ago, there had been a foreigner at this very same event. We chatted briefly and then we moved on.

After failing to win at the lottery and a quick look in the nearby gift shop, we took the short route back to the so-called “goal,” in this case Sakura Station.

There is one more events scheduled for this month, starting at Myojo Station between 9:30 and 11:00 a.m., but if you can’t make it this time around, the events start up again in December.

For more information

Visit Kintetsu.co.jp (Japanese only)

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