Visit Shimazaki Sake Brewery, also known as the cave brewery, and discover a traditional sake brewery only 2h drive from Tokyo!
When you think of Samurai worriers and Shogun warlords of Edo period Japan (1603-1867 A.D.), the center of Japan was then Edo castle. The now imperial palace in the center of Tokyo. This is where members of the Tokugawa clan ruled Japan.
However there were also a few regions outside Edo (Tokyo) which were well connected to the Tokugawa clan. One of these was the Mito han (Mito Clan) in Mito (Mito city).
Geographically, Mito is north east of Edo, and was a strategically important location to protect the capital Edo from the North.
So it isn’t surprising that the Mito Kodokan (水戸弘道館) in Mito, the largest worrier school in Japan, was built here in 1841. It was know as the best schools and was where the ‘Last Shogun’ Tokugawa Yoshinobu was sent as a boy to be educated.
At the time tuition was free for the 1,000 students who studied subjects such as confucianism, manners, history, astronomy, mathematics, cartography, poetry, music, sword & spear fighting, horse riding, swimming, medicine, Chinese herbal medicine and even butter making from milk cows.
In 1868, when Edo period ended, the school became one of the battle fields for Japan’s last civil war. Sadly this is when most of the buildings except the main gate and main building were burnt down. However, what was left is now open to the public and visitors can spot bullet holes from the battle 150 years ago if they look carefully.
When Kodokan (弘道館) was bulit, many Ume trees (梅) were planted around the school and in the nearby Kairakuen Park (偕楽園). Currently there are more than 600 Ume trees in Kodokan and 2,500 Ume trees in Kairakuen Park.
Ume flowers bloom a bit earlier than Sakura. Usually from around early February to the middle of March. People from around Japan come and visit to appreciate its stunning beauty.
Contributor: Angus Miyaji
Founder of Japan World Link, Angus helps visitors discover off the beaten track destinations in the North Kanto regions (Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki & Saitama) nearby Tokyo. He regulaly travels between Japan and the UK promoting tourisum and Sake.