Note that these blogs posted during the sheltering-in-place period of the coronavirus crisis are meant as a virtual escape. Hopefully, the information will be of use to you when it is safe to travel again.

August 3, 2020

Sendai, Japan: Nikka Whisky Miyagikyo Distillery Tour; things to do


Nikka Whisky Miyagikyo Distillery Tour  +81 0 22-395-2865.  Daily 9am-4:30pm.  Free.  Reservations suggested.



Built in 1969, this is Nikka Whisky’s second distillery. Masataka Taketsuru, who learned whisky-making in Scotland, started the company and makes what has been called the father of whiskey--Nikka Whisky. The distillery is located in a foggy glen surrounded by mountains and is adjacent to two rivers, including its famous source of pristine water, the Nikkawa River. Both malt and grain whisky are produced here. An educational tour of the refinery includes strolling the lovely grounds and viewing a scenic pond with swans. As an overview of production is presented, tour groups enter several buildings, including the kiln tower, mash house, and still house. 








The hour-long tour concludes with a tasting, where whisky descriptions vary from “fruity and rich” for the Single malt Miyagikyo to “woody and mellow” for the Coffey Grain. I liked them all. The tour is conducted in Japanese, but audio guides in English, Chinese, and Korean are available.






More things to do in Japan.

Great ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images and video ©2020 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

July 21, 2020

Morioka, Japan: Azumaya Soba Shop; restaurant review


Azumaya Soba Shop  Nakanohashi Ave. 1-8-3 (several more locations are in Morioka), 0120-733-130. 

entrance to Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka, Japan
entrance to Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka, Japan

This all-you-can-eat cold soba noodle experience involves wearing a special apron, sitting on the floor on a tatami mat at a low table, and then eating small portions of noodles served in lacquered wooden bowls that are stacked up as they are emptied.  Guests are allowed to dump the liquid soup in a special bowl so that they have more space in their tummies for noodles, and are encouraged by chanting servers to eat more and more--as much as they can.  Near the end, fellow diners sometimes join in the chant.  Service does not stop until the diner puts the lid on their final bowl, meaning they have had enough. 

noodle servings at Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka, Japan
noodle servings at Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka, Japan


diners at Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka, Japan
diners at Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka, Japan


This is not just dinner, it is a contest called wanko soba.  The record here is 500 bowls of noodles eaten by a man from Osaka, and 570 bowls eaten by a local Morioka woman.  Each bowl holds only a few noodles, and 15 bowls--which is equivalent to an ordinary full bowl of soba--is average.  The Noodle King in my group downed 100 bowls!, while I managed only 19.  Part of the fun is that the empty bowls are stacked up beside each diner, and as the meal winds down people try to eat more and more.  A few spices and toppings are provided for taste, and soba soup or tea is served when the contest is over.  Once popular all over Japan after World War II, this eating sport remains particularly popular in this area.  A few other area noodle houses also provide the same fun. 

American Noodle King David Lang at Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka, Japan
American Noodle King David Lang at Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka, Japan


tea service at Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka, Japan
tea service at Azumaya Soba Shop in Morioka, Japan



More things to do in Japan.

Great ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2020 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

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