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Did you know that sake is becoming popular overseas these days? Sake is a fermented alcoholic drink made from steamed rice, ricemalt and water. The primary ingredient of sake is rice. But as rice contains no sugar, it's mixed with ricemalt, whose enzymes turn the rice's starch into sugar, while yeast is responsible for fermenting the sugar into alcohol. Simultaneous sugar conversion and alcohol fermentation in the same vat is an advanced brewing technique not seen elsewhere in the world, and is the essence of creating high-alcohol sake.
Sake is manufactured all over Japan, but the ones made with local ingredients, and made in the image of local symbols, are called "jizake (local sake)," each offering unique regional characteristics. There are also several types of sake under the same brand like pure rice and daiginjo sake, made with different techniques and ingredient ratios, offering different flavors. The point is, there's going to be some local sake that you'd really enjoy in the Hakuba Valley.

Hakubanishiki & Daisekkei

Hakubanishiki is made from special rice and water. The rice is 100% sourced from contracted local rice farmers, and the water is spring water from the Iyari Marsh, Nagano's natural monument in the neighboring town of Omachi. It's made without any added glucide whatsoever, so the sake retains the original good flavor of rice. The brand also offers sake matured in snow, so give it a try.
Daisekkei is a sake popular with the locals. It's made with ground water from the Northern Alps that's pumped up from a well. The water that's coming to the surface now is snow that settled in the Alps 100 years ago. It was the brewers' passion to create a mountain sake with a clean, straight sake much like the snow water that spawned Daisekkei. The sake is the essence of special water from Hakuba's vast natural environment, rice grown by the locals, and the enthusiasm of passionate sake brewers.

Gaku & Takane no Hana

Gaku is a sake Daisekkei created exclusively for the Fujimori Shuten liquor store in Hakuba Village. It's made from 100% hitogokochi, a rice variety categorized as excellent for making good sake. Since it has a higher alcohol content of 20%, make sure not to overdo it!
This is Fujimori Shuten's original sake, created in the image of small flowers on high mountains. Takane no Hana has a pleasant, moderate aroma and best served chilled. Also, visiting several liquor stores will be fun, because the liquor stores in Hakuba, Otari and Omachi all offer different limited-edition sake.

Local Hakuba beer: Hakuba Beer

Finally, there are some craft beers that are enjoying local popularity. Hakuba resident and Englishman Daniel, of the Hakuba Brewing Company, has created four craft beers under the Hakuba Beer brand. Daniel's craft brews include: IPA, a revived early pale ale with a distinct hop flavor; mild-bodied Amber; non-bitter Pale with a lingering spicy taste; and Black, a dark beer with a lasting bitter chocolate flavor.
You can buy Hakuba Beer at liquor stores or enjoy it at restaurants and bars in the village. Pick up a set of all four, great for comparing different flavors or as souvenirs.
photo & text : Kensuke Itahara

【Special issue】In 2019-20 season; The VIP-lounge Debuts at Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field!

Since 2019-20 season, the service called ""HAKUBA S Class 〜VIP lounge & Priority pass〜"" has appeared at Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field. This service offers customers warming up to refresh at the VIP lounges, which are settled at the summit, middle and base of the mountain, and they can go skiing again.

More, the service offers the following:
Picking customers up and drop them off between the hotel and the resort
Accessing special parking spaces for customers
Leaving bulky ski or snowboard equipment at the resort
Returning to the hotel and going to the slopes empty-handed
and more special privileges.

This service would be such a premium one that no service's ever existed like this before, even though customers have wanted it, and resorts in Hakuba have lacked it so far.
★ Introducing a few contents ★
Riding a gondola without getting in a line
The lounge offers free drinks and meals

Beer, red and white wine, cocktail, sake and so on.

Soup or Japanese curry that let your body and mind warm
Grilled foods by chefs in front of you
Japanese stew ""oden"", Japanese pickles and soba-noodles made from local ingredients
A pile of snacks and sweets on tables, which all children smile at
*Service would be subject to change.
Starting on 21th December 2019 at Hakuba Iwatake Snow Field!

The service offers Saturday 21th December 2019 - Sunday 29th March 2020.
*the period would be subject to change depending on weather and accumulation of snow.

Facility Information

Fujimori Shuten (liquor store)

12867-289 Hokujo, Hakuba-mura, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano 399-9301

Kajikura Shuten (liquor store)

3010 Hokujo, Hakuba-mura, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano 399-9301

Matsuya Honten (liquor store)

6334−1 Hokujo, Hakuba-mura, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano 399-9301