I recently went with some friends to the Ajimu Fair Wine Festival. Ajimu is one of the scenic country towns within Usa city (Usa plays on its name with a mountainside sign that reads “USA” and a mini Statue of Liberty).
The festival was around the grounds of Ajimu vineyard. Our ¥3,000 tickets included two glasses from a main wine station with rather disappointing options of only “red” or “white,” one glass from a more varied sampling area, and best of all, A STEAK.
A friend managed to find one nice, leathery red, but all of the other wine we tried was super sweet, maybe because of the area’s sweet native grapes. With thick skins and rich, syrupy flesh, they remind me of the “scupanons” that my great grandma used to grow in South Carolina.
On the mainstage, a grape-eating contest faded from fun to nauseating as two finalists struggled with their third giant bunches. Fun fact: Japanese people usually peel their grapes before eating them, but this Japanese contestant was scarfing them down whole in true, gluttonous American form (maybe because he was competing against an American, who still won. I imagine it’s tough to out-glut us).
There were mascots cheering on events and promoting their home cities. Not sure who the Blues Brothers guy was representing, but he sure was slick.
My friend Casey and I found hats to match an adorable deer mascot from Nara!
The food stands offered everything from Korean street food to karaage to fried turtle. Our steak was melt-in-your-mouth local wagyu beef, coated in fatty gravy. About two hours later I followed it with a burger, because sometimes I make poor decisions.
We were pretty beat after all the eating and drinking in the heat, but we realized that there were even classier festivities taking place just up the hill inside of the winery. I tried brandy and port for the first time in the shop (better than any of the wine, in my opinion), and we took a quick self-guided tour around the bottling room and storage cellar.
All in all, a lovely day! I should wander outside with a glass of wine more often.