In perhaps one of her less memorable hits, Madonna chanted “Time goes by so slowly…Time goes by so slowly….” That sentiment accurately describes the Akigawa Keikoku Valley, an area that is technically part of Tokyo but a place entirely different from the typical image of a concrete jungle. Time, indeed, goes by so slowly.
The area is quite nice for camping. It is also a great place for children to play owing to a nice river. Unfortunately, it was raining both days we were there. So, rather than spending the afternoon on the banks of the river, we took a nice warm bath and drank some sake. We then took some time to plan an alternative activity for the next day.
Now for the sake review…The dog days of summer are upon us. At this time, the living may be easy, but the energy level is often low. Nevertheless, we continue to pursue our mission doggedly. The tasting that we did recently provided us with a much needed pick-me-up. Junmai Ginjo Yamadanishiki Kisho, made from 100% Yamadanishiki rice, is a slightly sweet sake, refreshing—one might even say “rejuvenating”—when drunk cold. It has hints of apple on the nose and an ABV of 16%. We sank our canines into some deep-fried Kentucky, and found that this sake goes very well with fried chicken, no matter what body part the user prefers: leg, wing, breast, or thigh. The sake may be a little difficult to obtain outside of Akigawa Keikoku Valley and surrounding areas, but those who make the effort will be rewarded.
Recommendation level (out of five stars)
The accommodations (Kandukuri-Sou): ⭐️⭐️1/2 (clean but a little rustic; no frills)
Hinohara Citizens’ Forest:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (My daughter – 6 years old – loved the woodworking. It was the highlight of her trip.)
Kurochaya: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Great kakigori! Just note this is seasonal item and is only available at certain times. This is part of a larger complex of traditional Japanese restaurants.)
The Sake: ⭐️⭐️1/2 (We tried two sakes and one umeshu from Nozaki Shuzo (Brewery). Both sakes shown above proved to be very light in flavor and good accompaniments to food. The umeshu was a little sweet, but nice on the rocks or heated. There will be more on the umeshu in next week’s entry.
We have written a book. For more information on Japanese beverages, please check it out. You can get it at fine offline and online booksellers in Japan, including Amazon.
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