Whisky Magazine Issue 75
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Dave Broom takes us on a trip through his Japan to discover inner peace and fabulous whisky.
I'm clean. In fact, I am cleaner than I have ever been. I never knew anyone could be so clean. Even my mind seems scrubbed. I'm imagining other guests inadvertently looking out of their windows and catching sight of a glowing, pale, hairy ghost walking past their windows, robed and wooden-slippered, a plume of steam rising from its head into the chill night air.
The idea of visiting an onsen has hung above every trip I've made to Japan and while I had a brief dip in Hitoyoshi city, it hardly counted. This time, after a few days of the usual Tokyo madness of tasting, talks, meetings, bar visits, more tastings, and late nights which blurred into early mornings it is decided that we head for the hills to recharge.
I was not aware that Japan's countryside appears to be menaced by giant-eyed, outrageously fanged monsters, but that's what the road signs were telling me.
Apparently it simply denotes raccoons, though I have my doubts. I've seen Japanese movies and know this is a land populated by terrifying monsters. The next sign warns about a plague of monkeys. Quite what they do I know not. Hold up the car so the raccoons can chew through the metal and eat us while the monkeys make off with the luggage? An interesting way to start what is meant to be an exercise in calming the mind.
All around are rusted mountains, their rippling ridges fringed with trees like a ragged horse's mane, their leaves the colours of old whisky, some the same shade as the hair of the girls of Shinjuk...