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Dining on Boat, Tasting Beer at Factory

Posted January. 08, 2003 22:55,   


Oita Prefecture is well known for quality and rich underground water. Hita, once the economic center of Kyushu and now called `Sikyo Hita,` is attracting tourists with Sapporo beer factory and three rice wine factories in it.

Leaving Nagasaki for Oita Prefecture, you will first arrive in Hita, a city surrounded by deep mountains. And there lies a plain at the center of the city, through which the Migumi River is running.

Upon arrival, I went to Sanyokan inn for spa. Inns specializing in spa service are lined along the bank of the river, for a special reason. That night, I was invited to a special dinner at a boat docked on the pier.

Walking along the passage from the lobby of the inn, I found a boat that looked like a small house and a banquet-style Japanese dinner prepared inside a tatami-floored room. When I took a seat, a woman in kimono, probably in her 50s, served me with warm rice wine, cold beer and raw fish.

Two oarsmen outside sailed the boat toward the center of the river. They later told me that dining on a boat called `Yakatavne` is the city`s one of tourist attractions. The landscape is beautiful during summer time, they say, with the river dotted with light from sailing boats.

Now, it is time for Hita`s wine and beer. Knowing good beer come from quality water, Sapporo Beer, Japan`s largest beer maker running 9 factories across the country, built a factory here in Hita.

The factory is located on the hillside of a mountain thickly-wooded with cedar trees, named `Beer Forest Hill.`

The lobby floor houses a beer museum. You can learn all about beer production through the one-hour touring program. The final course is beer tasting. You will find a German beer hall and an English pub among many others. You can drink as much as you want for about 20 minutes.

And there is an exhibition hall showing the company`s history. It has recreated the country`s first beer hall which opened in Ginja, Tokyo in 1899 and displays all of Sapporo beer brands produced for the last 110 years.

Across the park-like factory, there are shops and restaurants with a view. And of course, there is water, a small creek. You can have a beef stake with beer at one of the restaurants.