Shiga Kogen Beer 志賀高原ビール

A local craft beer brewery in Yamanouchi Area

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So Shiga Kogen has once won a prestigious status amongst all the domestic ski resorts because,

  1. It hosted some of the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics races
  2. Being one of the largest area for skiing with 19 resorts combined
  3. The location was used for filming a hugely popular movie in the 80s, when skiing was so popular

With that prestigious name as the brand, Shiga Kogen Beer has been around for quite many years.

Tamamura Honten 玉村本店 is the brewer of that legendary beer, based in this region, Kutsuno right across Shibu Onsen.

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Duration: 2 hours round trip on foot from Yudanaka Station, including the time to enjoy a pint of beer

Tamamura Honten

Tamaura Honten is originally a Sake maker, founded in 1805, and have been producing Sake for more than 200 years at the same location!

Then in 2005, they have started brewing beer and selling those, which became “Shiga Kogen Beer”.

Also, apparently this region once produced hops to make beer until 1950s.

So using local pure water, locally grown hops with the knowledge and Sake making kind of started this beer.

Tamamura Honten Website (Unfortunately available only in Japanese)

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The Location 

It’s only 10 min walk from Shibu Onsen, up on the hill of Kutsuno, you can get to their main store.

First you will come across this brewery after walking a gentle uphill.

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You keep turn left on the street and go further 30m or so then you’ll find their main office/store/gallery on your right.

Once inside, you’ll find retail section, a bar counter, and the gallery upstairs.

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They have Sake and Beer tasting. When I went there a pint of beer on tap was ¥648.

I tried their IPA, Indian Pale Ale, on tap and that was beautiful.

Where else do you find their beer?

As far as I have seen, there are numerous local restaurants and liquor stores around Yudanaka who stock this brand. It shouldn’t be too hard for you to find.

usually the bottle is for ¥600, which is reasonable for a craft beer I think.

They do have an online store too. However, they seem to have the Japanese site only and it will be a good challenge to navigate through for purchase if you don’t read the language.

Give me a private mail if you need help. See what I can do.

If you like fresh beer and the smell of brewery, 2 hours well spent!

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Biru Wa Oisii Desu ビールは美味しいです = Beer tastes good!

Who can argue with that! A Killer phrase to learn!

 

 

Obuse town 小布施

A little excursion away from Yudanaka

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In my opinion, you need half day (2-4 hours) for this.

Where is it?

Obuse 小布施 is a very small town, 10km Southwest of Yudanaka.

How to get there?

It’s 20min train ride on an Express Train from Yudanaka.

Fare= ¥690 (¥590 Normal Fare + ¥100 Express Train Fee)

There is an express train, either Snow Monkey スノーモンキー or Yukemuri ゆけむり pretty much every hour from Yudanaka Station.

Here’s the Link to Nagaden Timetable

Things To Do

This is a very small town with many traditionally-built wooden houses confined in a small area.

Also famous as a region to produce chestnut, Kuri くり in Japanese. So you will see lots of sweet shops used locally produced chestnuts.

Also, I found 2 Sake Breweries in this town if you are into it.

Masuichi Ichimura 桝一市村酒造場

Inside they have a small bar counter where you can try their sake.

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Matsubaya Honten 松葉屋本店 (Their website is only in Japanese)

This place was purely for retail and didn’t see any tasting area nor service.

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There was also a wine shop called “St Cousair” where I could try bit of wine tasting for ¥400/glass. I tried a white wine called, “Niagara Blanc” which is very sweet and muscat like. In here they also sell lots of Tomato based products, spices, cheese pasta and jams.

I think the owner has been heavily influenced by France/Italy and you can easily see that once you go inside.

St Cousair (Their website is in Japanese only)

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What I have been told is that in Nagano there has been a surge of new vineyards for the last 10-20 years.

In the past it was too cold to grow grapes in this part of Japan, but along with Global Warming and improvements on modifying grape seeds there has been multiple small vineyards springing up in this region.

You’ll never know, Nagano could be a major destination for wine tourism in near future.

So if you have a bit of time available in your hands, a little break from skiing or snowboarding, or on a rainy day, it could be an option to explore a bit more in this region.

See you next time.

Today’s Phrase

Osake Wa Oisi Desu お酒は美味しいです=Sake tastes good.

Yes that’s so true! Keep trying!

The best way to go see the Snow Monkey

Between Yudanaka and Jigokudani Monkey Park

The best recommendation: Catching a bus to the park then walk back to Yudanaka. 3-4 Hours.

So once you’ve arrived at Yudanaka Station 湯田中駅 by Nagaden 長電,

There are several ways to get to Jigokudani Monkey Park.

  1. Taxi
  2. Bus
  3. On Foot

1, By Taxi

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This is ideal if you are in a big group of friends or family.

The Fare: About ¥1600 (As the 2nd photo above shows)

The Duration: Around 10 min to the car park at Jigokudani Monkey Park.

2, By Bus

Once you arrive at the station, turn right once through the exit. Then you will find Nagaden Bus 長電バス counter and their timetables.

The Link to PDF File of Bus Timetable to Jigokudani Monkey Park 地獄谷野猿公苑

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As shown on the photo above, those 4 lines in the yellow circle actually stops by at the monkey park, by way of Kanbayashi Onsen 上林温泉.

So there are in fact quite a few departing during the day.

The Fare: ¥310

The Duration: 15 min

3, On Foot

This is personal favourite. I walk everywhere. But at the same time it’s a bit far for a family with kids or in a big group. You also need a decent pair of walking shoes.

Note: During winter months, the road to Jigokudani Carpark 地獄谷駐車場 is closed due to the icy surface condition. You need to walk from Kanbayashi Onsen 上林温泉 way.

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This is a good day half day trip. It will take 1-1.5 hour to get to the park having a look around in Shibu Onsen.

Along the way you will see these signs often.

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So as long as you keep seeing this signs you are ok.

Several things to remember.

  • From Yudanaka to The Park it’s mainly uphill. From The Park back to Yudanaka, mainly downhill.
  • Don’t go through the closed road behind Shibu Onsen. Go round to Kanbayashi Onsen to get to the park. Don’t believe everything Google Map tells you.
  • It’s still a bit of way to monkeys once you get to the park entrance.
  • Carry water with you.

So now you have some information to help you to decide how you want to get to see Snow Monkeys.

I think it’s best to go see the Monkeys, then walk back wandering through the maze of small streets in Shibu.

I’ll see you next time, hope you have a good day of walking so the onset afterwards will feel twice better!

-Today’s Phrase-

Arukunoga Suki Desu あるくのがすきです = I like walking

Walking is very good for your health!