Accompanying photos at my flickr set.
After snowoboarding at Ishiuchi Maruyama we proceeded back to the station. One of the main reasons we go snowboarding around Echigo Yuzawa is that the station as well as the great omiyage shopping it has a sake tasting area.I kinda like sake. Nigata sake is among the very finest in all Japan. In the tasting area 500 yen buys you 5 tokens that can be used to taste 5 different kinds. The dispensers are all along the wall as you can see. We have been to Echigo Yuzawa Station around 10 times but this year was very, very special. After the sake tasting we had about 90 minutes to spare so we thought we'd try something a bit different and have even more sake. The station has been renewed and a new sake bar was added where a run of the mill convenience store once stood. In the bar there was a group of businessmen next to us that appeared to be really enjoying the new years day proceedings. At about the time we were finishing our first round one of the businessmen had begun offering top ups from their bottle to everyone and anyone in the vinicity. It turns out that these business guys are the sales team and the President himself of the Hakkai san Sake Brewery. For reference Hakkai san is a very well known and very well respected Sake brand throughout Japan. Good fortune has it that we enjoyed each others company and round after round after round of sake appeared thanks to the gracious generousity of our new friends. Some of the sake offered is the kind not available for purchase from the shelf. Needless to say it was exquisite. Time passed with introductions, sake, good conversation, sake, sake Q&A with those in the know, sake, photos, sake, laughs...and some sake 90 minutes vansihed and we bolted for the Shinkansen back to Tokyo. There is little memory of the +1 hour journey home but clear fond memories remain of our new friends from Hakkai san. Life long fan I am. ありがとうござます。よろしく！