Feb 26, 2010

Early Show of Sakura and "Matsumidori" Sake

"Matsuda Sakura Festival" is now held in Matsuda-machi, Ashigarakami-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture. From Matsuda Station on JR Gotemba Line, we took a bus, which went across under Tomei Kosoku Highway, and then ascended a steep slope on a hill. Just a few-minute travel on the bus brought us to a place where we could enjoy an early-spring. There were early season varieties of sakura trees such as Kawazuzakura and rape blossoms in bloom, and we could enjoy these pink and yellow flowers. Facing south, this hillside place overlooked the town of Matsuda-machi, beyond which mountains of Hakone lay. Also, a snow-crested magnificent Mt. Fuji could be seen from the hillside.

During the festival period, the shuttle bus service that connects the station and the sakura place is available (one-way fare: 150 yen).

After being satisfied with the wonderful sight of the flowers, I recommend you to have lunch at the restaurant "Nikuhachi" (肉八) just in front of Matsuda Station. They offer horsemeat dishes including a horsemeat bowl, hot pot with horsemeat. I had the horsemeat bowl, on which an omelet with leek was placed. I picked some amount of the omelet with the chopsticks and brought it to the mouth and then found sliced horsemeat appeared from under the omelet. The meat was tender and tasted very nice! Moreover, this restaurant carried various types of sake from different places across the country. If you are partial to sake, ask the restaurant master whether he has recommended sake. He actually had good one for me this time.

After eating a horsemeat dish, you may want to go visit Nakazawa Brewery, which is making "Matsumidori." This brewery offers free drink of amasake (literally sweet sake) during the period of the festival. Also, you can sample some of their sake at the brewery.

Junmai Ginjo Namazake "Haru-urara" is a usunigori (slightly cloudy) namazake that has been designed to be shipped around this time of year. In spite of the sake meter value of zero, it did not taste very sweat, but left a flinty impression. This was very mild sake. I also tasted a pasteurized junmai Matsumidori, which also had a mild taste and was quite quaffable. I purchased bottles of both sakes to bring them home.

Matsuda Sakura Festival will last until March 7 and you may want to go there to enjoy an early spring.

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