The history of winemaking in Japan
Just an hour outside of Tokyo by train is Ushiku Chateau, a building modelled after a French winery. Completed in 1903 in an area surrounded by vineyards, the Ushiku Chateau established a system from cultivating, harvesting, producing, bottling, to shipping. It soon became Japan’s first full-fledged winery, with a vineyard of 160 hectares with over 130,000 vines at its peak.
The main arched entrance once had a small railway that used to transport grapes into the fermentation chamber in the main building. Today, the factory building is now where you can learn about its winemaking history – large wooden barrels that are filled with about 1,000 liters of wine line the ground floor, while the second floor displays the history of Ushiku’s winemaking the founder Denbei Kamiya, and accoutrements of the winemaking process used back in the day.
There are many other activities to be explored such as visiting the expansive verdant garden to enjoy the historic atmosphere. Wine and craft beer made in Ushiku Chateau is perfect to bring home as souvenir. You can also sip on their wine and craft beer while dining at the casual French restaurant that is housed in the chateau’s red brick cellar.