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So by far the most asked question I get from you guys is when is the best time to visit Japan.
It’s a pretty easy question for me to answer because the best time to visit by far, is
late September to early November in autumn in the fall.
But rather than just talk about it, we’re going to show you today what makes autumn
so special by going out and staying at a thousand-year old hot spring resort about thirty minutes
outside of Sendai.
We’re joined as always by our incredible chauffeur Ryotaro who’s gonna show us around.
So what, you said incredible chauffeur. Somehow incredible and chauffeur doesn’t go together.
You’re a good chauffeur. You’re good at what you do.
There’s is no good or bad chauffeur. A chauffeur is a fucking chauffeur for fuck sake all right.
Anyway, first we’re going to visit the Nikka whiskey distillery.
There are only two Nikka distilleries, and one of them is here in Sendai.
And then, after that we are going to visit a winery that is the only winery here in Miyagi
and just opened two years ago.
And I don’t know if I could
do that as I’m driving though.
See, that’s the downside of being an incredible chauffeur. No drink for Ryotaro today, but
we can drink and when I say “we” I mean I can drink.
Hot springs, whiskey, wine and yes, that’s a lot of alcohol.
I sense another disturbing plan to have me killed by alcohol consumption and hot springs.
But I'm not going to complain because that is a pretty good way to die.
I think my favorite thing about Nikka whiskey other than the taste is the logo which is
a Scottish guy with a beard. I mean I’ve met people from Scotland and they do look
like that.
But the good thing about the distillery is you can actually try the whisky
and we're going to be doing a tasting session in a minute.
So how many barrels are in here ?
So there are 100 hundreds barrels here.
100 hundreds barrels.
And they’ve got 25 storage buildings like this.
25 .
Yes, 25 ! So there’s 1 here and 24 more. And 100 X 25 = 2500 barrels.
It’s good maths. It’s like a vault, a giant vault or something. But it has to be
given how long there are in here.
Yeah, obviously. You know many of them stay here for like 12 years. Maybe older than that.
It’s cool to think, all these barrels will one day in glasses around the world.
People relaxing over a quiet drink in the evening.
Are you ready for whisky tasting.
I’m ready for whisky tasting
Yes. Come on in.
It’s like a seminar room that looks very very good.
I've only just had my breakfast.
It's better than morning coffee.
My taste buds have been ignited.
This is the first thing we’ve done today right?
Drinking whisky, we’re going to a winery, we’re going to drink sake during
dinner then we’re going to an onsen where I’m gonna drown just by drinking so much alcohol.
I’ve been on a lot of sake brewery tours over the years, I always find them very boring really.
They just take you into a dark room and go
“ This where we make nihonshu “.
But that. That was really good. The tasting session was amazing, the smelling of whisky
if you can’t drink like Ryotaro. And the room with all the barrels was pretty awesome as well.
It’s a really good tour. Highly recommend it if you’re into whisky.
And now, it’s time for some wine which is going to be a difficult thing to do given
the amount of whisky I’ve just drunk .
It doesn’t seem like a safe thing to do.
Akiu winery was started in 2015 by local architect and entreprenuer, Chikafusa Mori.
In the aftermath of the devastating tsunami, when Chikafsua saw buildings he’d constructed
washed away by the sea, he felt moved to help the region recover.
He noticed that while the region had an abundance of great food, it lacked any good local wine,
and thus set about designing and building the first winery in the whole of Miyagi prefecture.
He chose Akiu for having an ideal climate, with the valley bringing in fresh mountain
air to help cultivate the grapes.
However, upon arrival, to my delight I discover he’s also selling cider
which is usually disturbingly rare in Japan and I leap at the chance to sample it.
So this cider actually won an award earlier this year in Japan’s first cider competition.
The Fuji cider challenge in Tokyo.
This one, the Dolce, won the silver award, and the Brute won the bronze and that’s
pretty impressive considering you guys have only been going a year or two now.
What’s the secret to your cider success?
- The secret is we are using the best apples.
From local farmers.
- Yes.
It’s all about quality control right. I’m talking like I know what I am talking about
but I don’t. I am just enjoying the cider.
I am currently just full of whisky and cider which isn’t a good mix of things to have.
So Akiu is a hot spring resort and what you find is a lot of Japanese Ryokans
or traditional inns. They put a lot of effort into their gardens and this is no exception.
This a hotel called Ryoku Tsuite. And they’ve got this magnificent sprawling garden built
on to the side of it.
Filled with bamboo forests, streams, and rivers filled with koi carps. It’s really popular
to come here in autumn and just enjoy the colours.
And also in spring as well during cherry blossom season.
And you can see why people are by the windows at the hotel looking out across the garden.
It really is a beautiful place to just walk through, relax and take in the seasons.
So into the hotel room. We are on the 11th storey of the ryokan.
So we’ve got some beautiful sweeping views of Akiu.
It’s pretty big actually, this is pretty big for a ryokan room. Usually, I just get
like the one room. But, today…come in here.
So this is quite a rare thing for me.
Usually when I stay in a ryokan, I get a futon. I end up sleeping on the floor.
Here we’ve got a bed.
And also there are two, I’d like to point out Ryotaro has his own room so he’s not
going to be in here thankfully because he snores. It’s horrible.
A nice table here where I can sit and relax and enjoy the view and in fact, this ryokan
has an onsen hot spring that is built into the river down below, which we’re going
to check out later which I’m looking forward to.
It’s one of the best views I had from a ryokan. The views are absolutely beautiful.
So I am in my hotel room and Ryotaro's in his. We’ve got dinner in an hour or two but I’m
a little bit hungry so without Ryotaro knowing I snuck out to Lawson’s.
And bought chicken on a skewer, hell yeah. I'm going to enjoy that.
To be fair I’m completely
full of wine and whisky.
One thing I forgot to show you guys earlier. The key to the room.
It’s massive. Look at that, it’s huge. It’s like a key out of Silent Hill or something.
It’s ridiculous. I’m gonna enjoy this chicken and then it’s
off for dinner.
This is the first of two skewers that I'm going to eat.
Don’t judge me.
So it’s been a long day of drinking. But here we are, finally dinner time.
And you’re looking more stylish than I am. Although, better T-shirt.
Yeah, tacky crappy tee-shirt.
Don’t rip on the Abroad In Japan merchandise.
I am tired of you talking about your t-shirt. How crappy it is or fashionable it is.
Give us the rundown then. We’ve got kind of seasonal array of dishes here.
There is everything. This is steamed sea bream and also shellfish.
The thing that stands out the most for me is the bowl of mushrooms. Seasonal mushrooms,
Every variety of mushrooms.
We’re going to use this and we are going to put it into this hot pot later.
We’ve got an appetiser box.
When you have dinner in a Ryokan, the thing that stands out the most is usually the appetisers
put before for you. They’re usually very beautifully prepared as you can see here.
We have lots of tiny littles dishes in this box.
So have we been doing since the last few hours?
Actually, we’ve luckily been put into
separate rooms this time.
At least I don’t have to put up with you’re snoring.
It’s like sleeping next to a fucking bear or something.
So we've got to get up at 4 AM tomorrow morning to go in the onsen.
The reason we go in so early is we can’t go and film when there are other customers obviously.
And they actually open at 5 AM. There’s
people actually going in 5 AM.
Yeah, there are.
That’s ridiculous. So we have to go in an hour early and make the most of it so hopefully I’ll survive
getting up that early.
If I get up before like 8 o’clock in the morning, I’m screwed.
- I’ll ring you.
Wish me luck. You’ll be fine though. You get up at 4 everyday. And you’re Japanese,
Japanese people don’t need sleep. They’re magic.
- What do you mean? What do we do? What’s so special about us ?
All Japanese people I know can get by on like five hours sleep a day. And be like normal
functioning people.
I think it’s because you only know people who are like over 70 or something.
Yeah, like you.
So it’s 4 AM in the morning, and I apologise for my morning face. Fortunately, it’s quite
a dimly lit corridor so you can’t really see it. On my way to meet Ryotaro in the onsen.
I’m feeling pretty good, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s the anticipation of diving
into a nice hot spring. It’s keeping me alive this time of the morning.
There he is.
You’re like a boss, some sort of video game boss battle.
Just waiting at the last stage right.
So this is the indoor onsen
Indoor onsen.
This is the indoor onsen they’ve got. They actually have an outside, an outdoor onsen.
By the river.
By the river, yeah.
What are we waiting for ? Let’s go!
Let’s go!
Through this door.
So nice, honestly you can see all of a sudden why people get up at 5 AM to come
down here in the morning. We’re alone now, it’s 4:30, we’ve got the whole place
to ourselves for 30 minutes.
It’s weird to think there’s a whole building filled with hundred rooms stuff full of people
and we’re the only ones down here.
But it doesn’t open for a half a hour and then at 5AM apparently lots of elderly people
come down because elderly people love morning onsen. Like really really early morning onsen.
It’s really beautiful, we’ve got the steam rising off the water. We’ve got the sound of the
river just behind us whooshing past.
You can’t actually see it because it’s too dark, but you can certainly hear it.
It's just a really nice way to start your day.
I don’t think I could do this every morning but it is a nice way to kick things off.
And then after this of course I'm gonna dive into bed and sleep for about six hours
and not wake up until mid-day.
No, no, no. Not 6 hours, a few hours.
We’re gonna have breakfast.
We’re not. You’re gonna have breakfast, I’m gonna go to bed.
Breakfast, bed
You’re gonna have breakfast. There’s going to be another alcoholic thing.
Another alcoholic thing. Another alcoholic thing! You said that was it. Whisky, wine,
nihonshu, onsen, Chris goes to sleep.
No. I’ve never said that.
Here he comes.
A beer for you.
A beer.
In the morning.
A beer.
Morning beer. I feel bit of a wreck, it feels wrong having
a beer this early in the morning.
You should feel alright, because it’s been said that in Japan being able to drink beer
is a luxury. It means that it’s a day off or it’s a
It’s legal to do that. How’s that ?
Taste pretty good, taste weird though drinking beer in the morning.
It’s not something I don’t think I’m gonna get used to or intend to start doing.
If you’re into whisky, wine or sake or just a cracking good hot spring
Akiu is just 20 minutes away from Sendai.
If you plan on visiting the region, you can find the details on where we went in the description box.
For now though as always guys, many thanks for watching, we’ll see you next time.
You should get used to and you’ll truly become alcoholic after this.
Encouraging me to be an alcoholic. What kind of friend are you?
What a ridiculous man, why do we put him in these videos?
This video is gonna be incriminating evidence after I die, in the court this video is going
to be played back in front of a jury of people.
He wasn't even joking, he was genuinely serious. He was genuinely serious.