Aug. 03 2017
As summer has started to roll in, we decided to head out to Yoichi to go cherry picking as July is the perfect month for it. However, June is a temperamental month and its unpredictability comes with a number of problems, one of which is the rain. Weeks of sunshine can turn into torrential rains in a snap of a finger, which was exactly what happened to us. With time to kill as we waited for the rain to stop, we decided to head over to the Nikka Whiskey Yoichi Distillery as it was on the way to where we intended to go to for cherry picking.[caption id="attachment_93" align="alignnone" width="800"] This is literally THE BIGGEST rain I have ever experienced in 5 years.[/caption]
Built in 1934, the Yoichi Distillery is home to one of Japan’s top whiskey makers. Its original stone structures still stand, and a self-guided tour allows visitors to enjoy and explore its grounds freely. On this hour long tour, visitors can learn about the whiskey making process from information displays and audio guides that are available in English, Chinese, and Japanese. At the end of the tour visitors are also invited to free samples of the various types of whiskey that Nikka has to offer.[caption id="attachment_102" align="alignleft" width="1024"] Distillery founded by the Father of Japanese Whisky, Masataka Taketsuru.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_106" align="alignnone" width="1024"] The whiskey tasting experience is something I would recommend to everyone![/caption]
During the hour that we spent in the distillery, the rain had finally let up and so we took the chance to head out to the orchard before it could rain again. A short 18 min car ride away from the Nikka Whiskey Factory, 峠のふもと(Touge no Fumoto) was the orchard that we had picked for the day. When we arrived, we realised that we didn’t have to worry about the rain as the orchard has a large portion of its land covered by tents that shelter the trees and you from any potentially surprising showers, so if you happen to go on a rainy day like we did, you won’t have to worry at all![caption id="attachment_107" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Changeable weather is part of the fun.[/caption]
With more than 40 varieties of cherries trees that amount to roughly 700 trees, Touge no Fumoto has a bounty of fruits to offer. Depending on the season, other fruits are also available. Of them, there are blackcurrants that the orchard has grown on hedges, a nice touch that provides a little more comfort to the more elderly in the group who have problems bending over. Blueberries too, are also available starting from august. Typically, orchards here charge between 900-300 yen for visitors to eat all they can within a given time, which usually between 60-30 min, and charge an additional fee for fruits that you take back with you.[caption id="attachment_111" align="aligncenter" width="661"] Freshly picked cherry is much better than those sold in supermarket!![/caption]
All in all, we spent a good hour cherry picking, and during that hour, the weather had only gotten better and better so we decided to drop by a place called Mushroom Kingdom (きのこの王国) that had caught our eye on the drive to the farm. A mushroom farm that allows visitors to pick their own mushrooms starting from September, during the months that you can’t, the farm has a gift shop that sells a variety of locally made products that will definitely make for an interesting souvenir. More importantly, it has a restaurant that sells freshly made, piping hot meals and snacks stuffed full of mushrooms. They had mushroom ramen, mushroom franks, mushroom tempura, and even soba made with mushrooms! If you’re a mushroom lover, you’re sure to love this place.[caption id="attachment_117" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Mushroom Kingdom is a "Michi-no-eki" which translates to "Road Station" where weary tourist can get a quick break.[/caption]
Even though the day started out dreary, we managed to fill the day with activities that kept us out of the rain, so if you’re here on a trip and it unexpectedly rains on you, don't worry as Hokkaido still has many things to offer you. Just be sure to bring an umbrella with you!