I met up with some of my fellow “Nagano Inbound Summit” participants for a meeting in Suwa yesterday. We did 2 ‘excursion’ tours with a power lunch in the middle.
The 1st excursion was a tour of Masumi Sake’s brewery.
Their Export Manager, Keith-san, graciously showed us the facilities and explained Masumi’s sake production. His enthusiasm for sake and Masumi was impressive — I think I’ve become a Masumi-fan, too.
The owner’s boss (?), Kumi-san, proceeded to explain Masumi’s sake “concept”. Most sake brewers just concentrate on how to make sake — Masumi also focuses on how to enjoy sake. Their sake-tasting room provides the proper ambience for guests to properly enjoy Masumi’s sake, and their gift shop has everything from sake cups to a wide variety for local and other foods to complement their sake.
The 2nd excursion was to see Suwa City’s new “Onbashira Experience Park“. The park just opened last weekend and features two pillars of the same size as that will be used in next year’s once-every-seven-years Onbashira Festival.
An important component of the festival is the Kiyari, a traditional work song. We were fortunate to have Komatsu-san of the Shimo-Suwa Kiyari Preservation Society come and lead us in a chant. Another local, Itoh-san of B&B Megu House ZuKu, provided English explanation. Seeing the massive pillars was impressive, but hearing Komatsu-san’s (aka Mr. Onbashira) chant reverbrate off the far away buildings was most memorable.
In between the excursions, we met over bento at Masumi (compliments to Kumi-san for her miso soup!) and shared info on recent Inbound-related activities. Itoh-san gathering local foreigners to be volunteer guides, Seifuso in Matsumoto organizing a “Wear a Yukata to Matsumoto Castle” event, Minami-Shinshu Kanko Corporation’s successful eco tourism, and so much more. I hope to introduce some of these activities here in this blog.
It was impressive to hear everyone’s efforts to make Nagano Prefecture a more enjoyable place for tourists from overseas.
At the end, some of us stopped at Shimo-Suwa’s Aki (Fall) Shrine.
I was really enthralled by the area, and announced I had become a fan of Shimo-Suwa. One of my buddies said I should wait until I’ve seen the shrines at Kami-Suwa before deciding. I also want to see the castle, go to some of the museums, ride the new Duck amphibious sightseeing bus, and so much more. I guess that means I’ll have to come back to Suwa again soon!