3rd October 2014 was a special day for me. A friend of mine who works at a tea farm invited me to go around, and I had been looking at it a real long time. Green tea has become my daily drink since this year, and I met him at the very best moment: He wanted someone to understand what he do, I wanted to know how green tea is made. So he gently arranged the one-day-plan near his farm located in Shizuoka Prefecture.
It was dawn when I started to drive to the highway toward there. A lake, the landscape beside the ocean and mountains were so fresh and bright for me. I couldn't help but excited the good day ahead of me.
We went to see a tea farmer to listen to their opinions. They asked me what ordinary people drink in Tokyo, and I asked them how they manage to grow. The cup of tea they served as a welcome drink was just an astonishing taste and so dense. That's definitely one of the finest green teas I've ever had. "It's from my farm." An elder man proudly added.
Since the Autumn had come around the corner at that time, they picked leaves up in order to prepare for the winter. The leave bags were partly made of mesh so that air can go back and forth. In their garage, I found wooden stubs in a corner. When I stared at them, someone explained. "I cut a big long tree a few months ago. If you want, you can get one or two." So....
I decided to bring one of them :) The smell of wood is so fantastic :D Okay, we're ready to go into the farms.
It was tiny but the color of green was so strong and shining. Since I found some white tea flowers bloomed, I took honeydew from it. My behavior seemed to puzzle to the owner, "I've ran this job for generations, but I've never seen people tasting honeydew of tea flowers." "Why not? It's not a poison after all, isn't it? Instead, it's sweet!" By the time we taste each kind of tea flowers together, we became so frank in spite of our age difference. He and other staffs explained me the situation around the current green tea market. People, especially young person doesn't take nice green tea anymore, they just take other drinks, or even when they have opportunity to take the green tea, that is put in a plastic bottle. I still remember one of them sadly said that many people live without even recognizeing the real green tea. That's perhaps the biggest reason why they they kindly welcomed an individual consumer like me.
After that, they took me to a green tea factory nearby. Indeed, it was right in the middle of many tea farms, completely surrounded by them. In making green tea, they stop the progress of fermentation so that leaves keep its deep green color and, of course, have them taste fresh and nice. In order to steam the leaves to stop fermentation, the factories have to be near from the farms. Despite our sudden showing up without any appointment in advance, they introduce us in it and explained each process.
By the time we finished looking at it, it was already afternoon. My friend had already planned where to eat in a restaurant: It was a Japanese restaurant right in front of an old castle. I ordered deep fried Tempra, a bowl of noodle cha-soba that is made of buckwheat and green tea (You can see the green noodle mountain on the left side of the picture :), and stuff. Enjoying looking at Kakegawa Castle while eating was really fun for me. And sure, we planned to go see it after that.
Like many other historical architectures in Japan, this Kakegawa Castle has had a history of collapse and rebuilt. At the moment, only a few castles in Japan are the original ones, while others are rebuilt due to disasters and wars.
I found an armor displayed in a castle. You want to see them more? Okay, then head to a neighbor armor shop! :D
Once you across a river in front of a castle, there is a shop selling so-called reproduced armors. You can buy it from US$2,000 up to US$15,000. In case you're interested in yet don't afford to buy, they also provide renting service for hours, or just wear it and take photos.
I was just wondering why such a cute cartoon stood in front of the shop :P
In closing of my day trip, I attended tasting check with my friend and other co-workers. In a relaxing atmosphere, everyone took a spoon and small espresso-size-cup. We tasted around 15 kinds of different tea, from high quality to for daily drinks, and roasted one to culm tea.
It was indeed a whole day trip. I left my home at 6 a.m. and went back around 10 p.m. Still, I didn't feel tired at all while driving back on the highway. I repeatedly remember each piece of the memorable moment and bright, gentle people in Kakegawa :)