Of course Japan is known for Sake, which is a wine made from rice. I decided to learn about sake since I didn't know anything about it! I traveled 2-hours to the opposite coast of Japan to a city called Niigata. It was a beautiful ride through a mountainous region and I spend about 45 minutes in a tunnel on a bullet train so that must have been a long tunnel! I included a picture of the guy sitting across from me to show you how much room there is on the train. It's amazing and each seat has outlets and free Wifi! I'm in love that all to-go food is in delicious bento boxes. I wish we had these back home. I continually am amazed by the low crime rate. I took some pictures of the bikes at the train station; I didn't see a single one that was locked. People just don't take other people's things. What a beautiful thing! I'm also still amazed at the toilets. The one in the train station even had music for privacy and the bathrooms do not smell at all because each toilet pulls air into it. The bathrooms are all clean and smell good. The only thing is none of them have paper towels. People in Japan bring their own small hand towels with them so there is also very little waste. Even with the bento boxes, they come with wooden chopsticks which biodegrade rather than plastic utensils.
After a nice walk in the rain with my umbrella, I arrived at one of the oldest sake breweries in Japan, the Imayo Tsukasa Sake Brewery. I had no idea that there are almost 1400 sake breweries in Japan! This one was founded in 1767 and is one of the few that does not add "brewers alcohol" to their sake so it remains pure and they also are one of the few that uses wooden barrels still to brew their sake. It was a cool experience and I learned so much! Because rice doesn't have sugar, which is needed to make alcohol, they first have to polish off the outside of the rice grain and then add a fungus to the rice and let the fungus feed on the rice carbohydrates to make sugar and then the fermentation process can begin with yeast. Fascinating. The Niigata region of Japan is highly rated for their sake because the region has excellent water and the rice grown in the region is excellent quality. Just a fascinating experience!
On the train ride home, I picked up some snacks that I wasn't sure what they were. When I was meeting my friends here later last night, they told me that the potato sticks I ate are actually popular with the high school kids here because they "hack them" to make mashed potatoes by adding hot water and mashing it up. I didn't believe them so my friend ran to get a container of it and proved it to me. It was actually really good ha. I also met two editors that work for a publishing company and had some nice conversation.
Let's see what today brings!