Saturday, July 07, 2007

Another Tombo Times Article: Ajimu Winery

Yet another article I wrote for the Tombo Times (the monthly publication for foreigners in Oita Prefecture). I've reproduced it below, or you can go to the online copy here if you want to read the other articles as well.

For various reasons I'm trying to get into the habit of submitting regularly, but sometimes coming up with topics are a problem. I decided to write something up on the Ajimu Winery. This seemed like a good idea at the time because I had spent three years in Ajimu, and Shoko works at the Winery, so between the two of us we should have had a lot of information.

Unfortunately, after submitting the idea to the editor, the idea of writing about the Ajimu Winery absolutely bored me. The article became like a homework assignment. I waited until the last minute, and then wrote some crappy little piece. You can probably tell just by reading it that my heart wasn't in it.

Shoko, who had hoped to be consulted more on this, was absolutely furious when she saw the finished result. "This is terrible," she said. "It doesn't give any useful or interesting information out to anyone. And the whole idea of you writing this article was stupid in the first place because you don't even drink wine, so you can't be a very good guide. And furthermore," she added, "while we're on the subject I thought your article on Oita Library was pretty boring also."

Anywho, for better or for worse, here is the Ajimu Winery article below.

Ajimu Winery

Many people are unaware of it, however there is a winery located right here in Oita Prefecture.

(Actually there are three, if you count the winery in Yufuin, and the newly opened winery in Kuju. But since I’ve not been to either of those, I’ll leave it to someone else to review).

Ajimu town has long been famous for its grape production (well, famous might be pushing it. They’ve been noted for their grape production). Due to the “one village, one product” movement in Oita prefecture they’ve increased their specialization.

In the fall of 2001, the Sanwa Shuri Company decided to take advantage of this by opening up it’s winery in Ajimu. (Now technically part of Usa town due to the town mergers a couple of years ago).

Much of the wine sold at the Ajimu winery is actually made in Ajimu itself from local grapes. Some of it is imported from other parts of Japan and just labeled Ajimu Wine. But either way, if you’re a wine lover, it offers a great variety of wines to try out.

The Winery offers free tasting every day except Tuesday. The purpose of the free tasting is to increase the brand recognition of Ajimu Wine, so you don’t need to feel any pressure to buy anything. The staff at Ajimu Winery is just happy if you walk away with an increased knowledge of their product. (It is considered bad manners to come to go to the free tasting with the intention of getting drunk, although some people have been known to do it).

Ajimu winery is located in the beautiful countryside of Ajimu, on a particularly picturesque hill overlooking the Ajimu Basin. This is perhaps its greatest selling point, however from an accessibility standpoint it is also the greatest weakness. The nearest train station (Yanagigara in Usa) is a good twenty minute drive away. You could catch a bus into Ajimu (although the bus system in Oita isn't great). Other than that your only option is to drive in.

And I’m sure I don’t need to remind you how strict the drinking and driving laws are in Japan. Plus the roads leading in and out of Ajimu winery frequently have speed traps setup by waiting cop cars.

Therefore it’s always a good idea to go with a designated driver. The Ajimu Winery has free grape juice for designated drivers, and the Winery café sells excellent coffee at cheap prices (250 yen a cup, which is cheaper than you’re likely to find at any other Japanese café).

The Ajimu town also hosts a wine festival during September, although the same transportation issues exist.

And while you’re in Ajimu, be sure and check out their famous waterfalls (one of which is rated among the best in all Japan). The Winery staff should be more than happy to give you directions.

Link of the Day
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2 comments:

Whisky Prajer said...

Appropos to nothing you've just posted: I came across this review and wondered if the book mightn't be up your alley (you being a DC man and all).

ジョエル said...

It does indeed look like something I would read, doesn't it?

Back in my comic book collecting days (roughly 1994-96) I used to enjoy the Superman comics because of the wide range of supporting characters and sub-plots...Cadmus, the Guardian the Newsboy Legion, DNAliens, etc. (Actually most of what I liked about the superman comics were just the remnants of Jack Kirby's Fourth World, but I didn't learn my comic book history until years later).

However I usually tend to find superman the most boring part of the Superman comics, and tend to stay away from stories that focus solely on him.

On the other hand, that review does make the book look pretty interesting...