Katsunuma Grape Festival
Come for the wine, stay for the fire!
Imagine sitting under a starry night sky, sipping wine, while watching fireworks. If all of this sounds amazing then it might be time to visit Katsunuma, the wine capital of Japan.
Katsunuma is a small town in the heart of Yamanashi Prefecture about a one-and-a-half-hour train ride from Tokyo. What better way to delve into Japan’s wine paradise than going to the Katsunuma Grape Festival held yearly on the first Saturday in October.
Wine all day
Katsunuma has an abundance of delicious grapes, and of course, wine. Sweet, sour, bitter, and every flavor imaginable is available at the festival. Including peach and yuzu (citrus) wine!
The festival, located at Katsunuma Central Park and on the nearby middle school grounds, showcases over 24 wineries and each one brings at least three to six wines you can try. After buying a wine glass, it’s time for some all-you-can-drink juice of the gods. The whole area becomes a big outdoor picnic party where you can continue to sample from each wine stand until it runs dry. A small amount of wine is poured into the glass by vendors, or there’s also a self-service barrel wine area for people (us!) who don’t want to wait. If you’re lovin’ on a certain brand of wine, feel free to purchase a bottle at the stand to take home or to drink on the spot.
Fire at night
There are also plenty of food stands, free grape giveaways and a grape skin spitting contest. During the day, there is a taiko (drum) performance and parade where children carry the mikoshi (portable shrine).
Even after all that fine wine, there’s more. The night lights up with the Katsunuma middle school students running through the festival with giant torches. The students perform a short ceremony on the festival grounds and then proceed to run up to the top of the mountain and perform a tori-yaki (firing tori gate) — a totally mystical sight not to be missed. The night ends with a bang as fireworks light up the sky with the burning tori gate in the foreground.
If you’re wine-dering what all this will really look like, it’s a grape idea to head out to this local festival!