Daily Archives: 28/04/2018

When one of your daughters is making a career as a whisky distiller, we have a responsibility to visit one of the best makers in the world. And, when you’re en route in a rental car, the designated driver also has a responsibility not to partake of the tastings on offer. (Japan has VERY strict drink-driving laws with as good as zero tolerance and very heavy penalties.)

The Japanese word for whisky is, like most foreign words, written in Katakana script.

uisukii - Katakana script for the word whisky

The late Masatake Taketsuru is considered the father of Japanese whisky. He came from a family of sake brewers, and became a chemist to learn more about the sake making process. In 1918, Taketsuru-san travelled to Scotland to study whisky distilling at the University of Glasgow. He returned to Japan two years later with his Scottish wife and, after a stint with Suntory, went out on his own to build Yoichi distillery which was completed in 1934. The first whisky with the Nikka brand was launched in 1940.

The word nikka means daily work or daily routine.

The Yoichi Distillery is west of Otaru. Whether or not any purchases were made is yet to be disclosed. Hope you enjoy these photos, RBW!





We’ll be moving around the middle and south of the island of Hokkaido over the next couple of days. This map via Japan Ryokan and Hotel Association might assist as a reference point for some of the place names.

Hokkaido Map -


Our activities today were brought to us by the first rental car of this trip. No need to type in your Japanese destination on the GPS, thank goodness. Simply put the phone number or map code of your destination into the system and voila!

All went pretty smoothly except for a road closure later in the day that required a considerable deviation, but we made it to Furano in time for dinner.

First stop today was Otaru and its old canal and warehouses.



 Then it was on to Yoichi and the Nikka Whisky Distillery, which rates its own post next up.

The landscape was stunning, particularly as we climbed higher. We also had a fox and a deer sighting.


This is Mount Yotei, an active volcano which last erupted around 1050 BC.


Tonight’s meal was at Kumagera (The Black Woodpecker), a Japanese Regional restaurant with great atmosphere. Himself had the Furano speciality, omelette curry rice which he appeared to enjoy very much.