Most people would not consider travelling to the north of Japan because they are afraid that there won’t be much to do here. However, this last weekend proved that idea wrong. What started as a calm evening became an exciting weekend of learning and trying. The tour consisted of 4 different events between Friday and Saturday. First we arrive at an old Ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) in Daisen city, close to Akita city and spend the night with traditional onsen (hot springs). The next day is followed by a visit to the most famous firework factory in Japan and have the opportunity to make your own firework (with fake gunpowder so you can transport it back home). This is followed by making your own lunch with a couple of ladies whom will teach you how to make sushi roll inside a giant sushi roll. Let’s call it SushiCeption. Lastly the end finishes at a sake brewery learning the process of making sake and trying the different kinds at the end. In the end you will have a firework, a full stomach, and a lot to drink to end the day.First off, the Ryokan experience with onsen. Arriving there from Akita city takes about one hour. The owners give you a tour of the place and a key to your room. There is tea to be made and you can ask the workers to help you make it if you do not know yet. There is a change of clothes into traditional Yukata which I recommend to use for dinner as you will for sure feel the tradition a little closer that way. Do not be surprised if there is no bed in your room. When you are having dinner, the employees will come and set everything for you. Dinner starts at 18:30. The food is all local traditional food with ingredients mostly obtained from the area. Do not expect a pizza, although a pizza with Japanese ingredients does not sound too bad either. Expect the unexpected, if you have already eaten Japanese food then you know it will be good and so it shall. After dinner you are free to enjoy the outside onsen called (rotenburo) as it is open until 23:00. There is also the possibility to enjoy the onsen indoors which also includes a large bath area. After dinner and onsen you would be quite tired and enjoying the typical tatami room is recommended. The beds are extremely conformable. Luckily there is wifi in case you want to make your friends jealous about where you are. The next day starts at 7:00 since breakfast is at 7:30 and leaving the ryokan is at 9:00. Breakfast again is served as traditional local food and you will have the chance to try one of the typical Japanese tastes at that moment. The second part of the trip takes you to the firework factory which has won many years as the best firework factory in Japan due to their firework types and performances in competitions. The manager of the factory will take you around the different process areas and explain how everything is done and you will have the chance to see the making in progress. After the tour, you will have the chance to repeat the processes you learned and make your own firework. You will use fake gunpowder so that you will be able to bring the firework through customs at the airport. If I tell you the process here then it is no fun, so you have to check the factory on this tour yourself!By the end of it you might start to create an appetite. Lucky for you, that SushiCeption I mentioned before is coming right up. You will travel another 30 minutes until you meet the best teacher of the area. They have already taught me how to make several types of food, and this time was the giant sushi roll. You will make so much food, you will not have enough space to eat it all. The preparations are already set by the time we arrived and we only had to do the most difficult part, make the giant sushi roll. It is not very difficult to make, a certain technique is required but you can learn it with the ladies. Everyone will have the opportunity to make their own giant sushi or huge rice balls filled with whatever tastes you like. Once the cooking is done, the ladies will bring miso soup and tea to the table and the eating begins. You will need as much food if you want to drink enough at the sake brewery.Lastly, the Sake brewery which is the event most people are eager the most to take part in. You will be surprised to learn that Sake is mostly only made starting in autumn and ending in spring, during the cold season. The details of all the explanations I will leave it for the sake brewery to give them to you at the time of the event. One thing for sure, the process is much unexpected however the taste is delicious. You will have a chance to taste three different types of sake all unique in taste. In case you are lucky, you might try what might be called a Sake Cookie, which is the left over rice that is pressed to extract the liquid. It does not have much taste, however contains enough alcohol and with the right food, can be delicious. You can ask them if you can buy it from them, usually extremely cheap for about 200 yen you can get a full bag.By the end of the day around 17:00 I hope you will have enjoyed drinking sake and are also tired from all the trips. A recommended experience with a lot of learning about the different uses for rice and its importance for the Japanese people.
Written by Alan Roberto Tami