I suppose you have some good memories of the food you ate when traveling. You may sometimes think about it and wish you could taste it again. It is funny that I've decided to go to a remote village called Shirakawa-go (Gifu prefecture) again and have booked an inn for next year just after returning from it. It is a fairytale village and has been designated a UNESCO world heritage site.
The milky white drink you can see below is one of the reasons for my decision. It was served to us at a shrine in the village. What do you think it is? Although it looks like potage soup, it is however a type of sake (Japanese liquor made from rice) called doburoku. Though I’d drunk other doburoku-sake before and I hadn’t liked it very much, I found this one was surprisingly good. It tasted mysteriously complex and magically delicious. I’d never thought doboroku could be so tasty like that.
Shirakawa Hachiman Shrine
Normal sake is clear because it is filtered to remove grain solids left behind after the fermentation process. Doburoku, a kind of nigori-zake (cloudy liquor), remains unfiltered, so there is much rice sediment in it.
The one produced in Shiragawa-go is very special because it is in fact Omiki (sacred sake), and it is brewed by shrine priests using an ancient brewing method to offer to their gods before drinking. The doburoku culture there reflects what ancient people thought of sake a long time ago. The villagers hold a very interesting and bizarre festival called Doburoku Festival in autumn.
Shirakawa-go and neighboring Gokayama are well known for their traditional Gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old. Due to the heavy snowfall in winter, the houses have steep thatched roofs that shed down snow more easily. Those houses usually have two or three story attics where people used to raise silkworms. They once earned money through silk culture but nowadays some of them make their living by farming and some by tourism.
I think it is a fascinating village to visit but at the same time I can imagine how tough it is for the villagers to live in a world heritage site, and keep the flame of tradition alight.
＊You can find more tips about Shirakawa-go here.