A Winery in Japan
My Trip to Shuzenji
A friend of mine had created an itinerary for us to visit the Izu peninsula area of Japan. I have never been in that area and I was under the impression that Mt. Fuji can be seen there (in its god like splendor). I had always wanted to visit near that area and now that chance has finally come.
Being a foreigner or (gaijin)... as I am, this visit wasn't too difficult for me as my travel companion had made it much easier to get around. The only thing for me was the enduring of the summer heat Japan is known for. But there is more to it than I had expected. To me it was like being in an episode of the program "Soko ga Shiritai". In the TV series, you're never really know where the adventures will take you.
Our adventures actually started in Odawara to visit the "Odawara castle". After, we headed out leaving for Mishima and had lunch near the station. We had a wonderful unagi lunch set. Sliced eel on top of rice with miso soup and pickled vegetables, etc...Then a little walk around the area to kill some time and then off to Shuzenji by train.
Image courtesy of Worakit Sirijinda / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Visiting Odawara Castle and Mishima ShrineClick thumbnail to view full-size
Japan Travel Guidebooks
This book is a must for making the best out of your trip when using the Japan Rail Pass. Included are railway time tables and route guides covering train journeys all over Japan. Here you get information on all budgets on where to eat and what to see (historical and cultural background included) in 30 towns and cities. Customs, etiquette and some Japanese phrases are also included.
Hotel Winery Hill
A Remote Hotel Stay Destination
Shizuoka near Shuzenji. (The center of the Izu peninsula).
I am not familiar with this area at all. But being in the country side was a wonderful treat. Away from the hustle and bustle I am quite familiar with. None of those sardined packed train rides I remember during the rush hour commute in Tokyo.
So relaxing and carefree it could have been, but we were on a time schedule so we had to do a little rushing since there was an incident with the train operations that day which often occurs in Japan. If you know what I mean. So sad to say.
It was quite hot but is expected in the early month of August. I couldn't wait to find shelter in any air conditioned building I could find myself in. Minutes later the bus came to pick us up. I could not wait to get cooled and comfortable as I quickly got on the bus seeking refuge, and finally experiencing that temporary moment of refreshing luxury.The bus was free and was especially there to pick us up to take us to the hotel we were staying at. It would take us about 25 minutes to get there.
The ride was refreshing. After taking it all in, I began to picture in my mind how it would be like as I observed what seemed as the everyday life routine in that sort of town from day to day. Looking out the window I just imagined. Soon after passing some homes and fields, we took a turn onto a mountainous region. There were turns going up with forests on either side with a few homes scattered here and there. Not too many of them. And finally we had reached our destination. Our hotel stood high on top in these woods. I did not expect to see.
* picture by me of Hotel Winery Hill
My Hotel Stay
Once we arrived we had some time to kill before we could check in. With just about a couple of hours to go, we decided to walk around and take some pictures. There was a huge field across from our hotel. Down a road near the area were homes lined up on one side of the street. The homes seemed to have some Victorian or European influences to them.
Soon after, we decided to take a swim in their swimming pool. I really don't like to go swimming but it was a reason to cool off once again. It was probably in my intermediate school years I last took swimming lessons. It was so awkward now to attempt to swim for I have aged and have gotten out of shape.
After the pool, we decided to try the outdoor spring area. Very simple, nothing so great. However, there is also a private bath area including a hot spring, a cold water pool section, and a sauna. I love to relax and soak myself in the hot springs and sweat all of the toxins right out of my body when going into the sauna room. This was the place to be! Not too many people, so I found it quite comfortable.
Now, time to check in. We stayed in a 2 bedroom which included a separate tatami mat room. Quite spacious indeed with a nice touch to it. Contrary to a western style hotel room, I've never expected that. I am quite pleased. And although the bathroom was not so spacious like the western style, it was surely better than the ones at the business hotels I've stayed at in Japan. They are very small. They are comparable to the restrooms in an airplane. Just add the shower stall right next to the toilet seat and sink and there you have it.
* Picture above taken by me
The Free Wine Tasting Event
We are going to a free wine tasting that comes with the hotel stay, I'm told. My very first and again I did not know what to expect. I thought we were going to another part of the hotel where the event would be held. I was not expecting anything more.
While outside, we waited a bit for the free bus ride to take us to the wine tasting site. The bus arrives and I have no clue where the bus will take us. Down a road it takes us and onto another winding road, further away from civilization, so it seems. Where are we ? After about 8 minutes, We come upon a field, and rows of grapevines.
My first experience being at a place like this.
In the distance, I began to notice a lightly pinkish colored building amid the vineyards as if set as a centerpiece, displaying it's timeless beauty, loftiness, and quiet within. In a way it reminds me of something right out of the movie "The Shining" by Stephen King.
The bus then drops us off near the front entrance part of the building which is on the back side. A quiet and desolate feeling in the air as we arrived but a bit more welcoming as we began to enter. The place was brightly lit with the sun shining in through the glass windows. With a small group of people inside, our tour guide then takes us on the tour, leading us downstairs into the wine cellar holding a remarkable collection of vintage wines. A spark of interest about wine just might have been kindled within me. How fascinating! Only time will tell as a result of my visit.
After the indoor tour of the building we were then escorted outside to see the breathtaking view of the vineyards. Our tour guide had mentioned that on a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji. However this was not the case on that very day. We were told that the pollutants in the air coming from China had blocked out the view and so it was quite disappointing for me.
Towards the ending of our tour, we had some free wine tasting samples. Juice for the kids of course. Behind the premium wine area you can sample more if you wanted to, but at a price. I went on to take more pictures outside. The building in itself was quite lovely. I was enjoying the moment. While leaving the winery I had a sense of admiration for the place. I was so glad to have gone there. I had never ever thought of visiting a winery in Japan one day and that the time would come for me to do so.
* Picture above taken by me
My Stay at Hotel Winery HillClick thumbnail to view full-size
Remembering my first Japan trip in the 80's !
Japan - One of My Highlights
It all started with my very first international trip to Osaka, Japan. This had happened many years ago in the late 80's. I had the privilege of knowing and visiting my long time friend whom I knew since our elementary school days, or (our hanabata days). When kids go through the runny nose phase (nose boogers or nose butter).
I have come to love and appreciate my Japanese roots and culture since then. I have been to Japan many times and for the first time I have written about one of the highlights of my recent trip. This is one of my many memorable experiences.
Visiting Shizuoka / Shuzenji gave me an experience I've never thought would have happened after visiting the place I had just visited...the "Izu Nakaizu Winery Chateau T. S." winery / Hotel Winery Hill.
I would have never known about a place like this ever existed with vineyards producing 12 different types of wine. All of this including a great view of Mt. Fuji that can be seen on a clear day. So if you're ever thinking about visiting near Shuzenji, here is a place to check out.
*photo taken by me