Uonuma-no-Sato is home to one of the sake production facilities of the famous Hakkai-san brand. The company have developed the area around the brewery and turned it into a fantastic place to spend the day. Around the main brewery building are small restaurants, shops, cafes, gardens and a cold storage facility that uses nothing but the winter snow to keep everything cool.
It is very much a taste of all things Snow Country. There are soba and udon restaurants that use local and seasonal ingredients to produce delicious meals, all accompanied by Hakkai-san’s own sake or beer if you are drinking. Or for an interesting treat you can also eat at the staff cafeteria.
Perhaps one of the highlights of the facility is the Hakkai-san Yukimuro Cellar – a cold storage warehouse. It is a very modern building but draws on traditional techniques of using the winter snow to keep things cool for the rest of the year. There are old photographs as you start your guided tour that explain this technique.
The snow is piled up during winter and keeps the whole building cool, gradually melting throughout the year, and is replenished again the next winter.
This stable temperature is used in the production of the Hakkai-san sake with giant tanks filling much of the building. At the end of the tour is a tasting area where you can sample all the offerings of the Hakkaisan brewery. After this, there is a shop selling many local delicacies, special Hakkai-san products, and ingredients from all over Niigata. All of it is kept cool by the piles of snow sitting close by.
Vegetables stored in this way have a very distinct sweetness, and this technique of cold storage can be found around Snow Country in many different forms. It is a fantastic use of winter snow.
Uonuma-no-Sato in Minami Uonuma is a fascinating and delicious day out that is highly recommended if you are looking for something to do in Snow Country. It is open year round but go during the hot summer and you will thoroughly enjoy the benefit of the cool Yukimuro Cellar.