Vinos Yamazaki – Numazu

9 07 2012

Vinos Yamazaki


One of the joys of Living in Numazu is that they have a Yamazaki Vinos. And one of the joys of the Yamazaki Vinos is the wine tasting.

The Vinos in Numazu is in a sneaky little spot on the basement of the イーラde (Iira-de) department store snuggled into a corner of the Yamazaka grocery store. The cellar-like subdued lighting and sanded pine timbered walls stenciled with the shop name to look as if it had been branded creates an oasis from the surrounding supermarket.

Getting a tasting is simple. Just rock on up to the counter and ask. There is a list of wines on display  on the shelves behind the service counter and a plaque showing prices for tastings, glasses and the whole bottle.

The wine list is carefully selected and only the better quality wines make it to the tasting list. Every time I have gone for a tasting there I have always experience quality. However, that quality doesn’t always come with a high price. The selection is expansive. Today’s selection varied from 150-1050 yen for a tasting or 350-2650yen a glass. Of course the more expensive wines are at the top end of the tasting cost and frequently retail for around 10,000yen a bottle and taste like you have just drunk unicorn milk.

From today’s tasting my hands down, pants off favourite was the Havens 2009 Chardonay Oakville from the Nappa Valley. This creamy Chardonnay was rich in vanilla with subtle notes of cinnamon and peach.  It combined perfectly with their European cheese platter from their fromagere in Shizuoka. There are a dozen other snacks on the menu to accompany your tasting. The tastings average around 600yen a plate.

The staff know their stuff too. While I was there I noted the staff guiding customers with their recommendations and offering wines in different styles and price ranges to satisfy them. However, I did make the mistake of commenting about one particularly good tasting only to have the wine seller animatedly tell me all about it. This would have been fascinating had I understood a word he had said.

Yamazaki Vinos is not exclusive to Numazu. It is actually part of a high end supermarket business with several chain stores. The prefecture capital, Shizuoka, has two Vinos that I have visited and also is home to the best fromagere I have found in Japan.


Hours (bar) – 11:00-21:00hrs(last order 20:30)

English menu – No sorry but its pretty easy to figure out. Just point and say tasting or glass.


Numazu Pride Festival – Numazu Jiman 2011

17 09 2011

Last week I enjoyed some of Baird Beer’s finest beers at the Numazu Jiman (Pride) Beer Garden.  When I posted about the Jiman Beer Garden on September’s What’s On I really didn’t know where they were going with the whole event. From my translation I gathered that Jiman meant to brag or to show pride. I couldn’t see Numazu, or any town in Japan for that matter, brag about what ever it was they were offering so I assumed it was ‘pride’, but pride about what I was not sure.

Numazu Jiman Beer Garden Festa

The festival ran from the 7th to the 9th of  September in the Numazu Chuo Koen (south side of the station where the walking bridge across the Kano River is). The open air event spread out over the park with stalls in one corner, stage in another and the rest of the park packed with tables and chairs.

Early Autumn in Numazu just feels like summer minus the humidity. This makes it perfect for beer drinking because, while you are a little hot sitting at the table, you cool down just enough with the help of a beer.

The night I went was Friday night and the weather was ideal. I am glad I went early because the park was soon packed and even invoking the power of my foreignness this time did not work to dissuade people from sitting at my table or attempting to take the chairs I was guarding for friends.

The whole crew from Numazu Baird Beer were there including the beer master Brian. They also invited another craft brewer, Iwate Kura Beer, to the event but I didn’t get a chance to taste their beer. The local passion for Baird Beer could be seen by the long trail of customers lining up for a beer. If you did not want beer you could choose from a cocktail vendor and a local sake maker.

Bair Beer Crew at the Numazu Jiman Festa

Baird Beer Brew Master Brian Baird at Jiman Festa

While I was there,  the stage events started with a gravity defying cocktail making performance by a local awarding winning barmen. The show was spectacular. The barman juggled and spun bottles and shakers to some pumping beats before dispensing his cocktails in Martini glasses and offering them to a lucky few of the of the audience.  After this was a local alternative jass group that performed some mellow songs to keep everyone chilled for the evening.

Jazz Group Playing at Jiman Festa

Before I went home I wandered among the stalls. As the name of the event suggests, all the food was from local restaurants and cooks. There was Rosso Pomodoro, a local pizza vendor, who brought his wood-fired pizza oven along and was cranking out hand made pizzas to a large queue of hungry customers. Another stall was cooking up local seafood over the barbecue.  A yakitori vendor was smoking up the place with some delicious skewered delicacies. And if you were too worried that you would lose your chair when you got up to get something to eat, then you could call out to one of the Numazu Pro-wrestlers who were wandering around with a variety of cooked goodies.

Barbecue seafood at the Jiman Festa Numazu

In short the Numazu Jiman Beer Garden Festival was the perfect event for the right time of year. More importantly, you got to try out some of the amazing food that Numazu that I have been in love with for years. Numazu should be proud.

Stay tuned to Numazu Traveler to find out when next year’s Jiman Festival will be.

Off to the Numazu Jiman Festa

9 09 2011

To day I am off to the Numazu Jiman Festa. I’ll see you there. I’ll be the tall one with the video camera asking question in bad Japanese.

Malt Cats – Numazu, Shizuoka

16 04 2011

Malt Cats – Numazu

Some of the best places in Japan are the hardest to find. Or maybe it is just the pleasant little sense of satisfaction that you get when you find one of these gems that makes the experience all the more enjoyable. But up dark ominous stairs, down shabby alleys and in nondescript buildings are some places far beyond the little bag of powder or another bout of crabs. When a friend guides you in this direction you are especially hoping it is not for the latter.

Last weekend’s bender resulted in a friends suggestion that we take our respective wives to dinner at AiAi followed by a game of pool. My friend led us to the south side of Numazu near the train station and suddenly veered left down a narrow alley that merged into a building. Ooh an adventure, I thought. We took a lift to the second floor and were met by muffled singing and a sole wooden rocking chair that was guiltily resting by the door. Through the door was the ‘Malt Cats’.

For some reason adding ‘Cat’ to the title of your restaurant, bar or café is the thing to do in this country. Perhaps it’s some vintage 70’s slang spending its twilight years in the nights of Japan.

Entering Malt Cats you are greeted by an illuminated bar that stands as an oasis for the thirsty amidst the subdued warm drop lighting. The bar space is split into two seating areas one around the side of the bar and the other directly across the bar and raised providing some clever depth to the place. What is most striking about the seating is the open spaces between communal gatherings of mish mashed couches. This creates a nice little level of intimacy for your party without feeling isolated from the general vibe of the bar. An open space such as this is so different from the usual cramped confines of what I am used to in Japan but may feel warmly familiar to what you might experience back in your own country.
photo 5

Illuminated in competition to the bar is the pool table with, again, the perfect amount of space to play. The table is in pristine condition far distant to its sorely abused cousins in Australian pubs. My friends and I played a few games of pool, intentionally missing shot’s, pocketing the white ball every second shot and in one case acting like it was our first time playing.
photo 1
Yes, I think I will stick the word ‘intentionally’ merely to rescue the last dregs of self-esteem that we all left behind on the table. Well at least one of us had a choice. It was actually her first time.
photo 2

Our little group noticed some board games on the wall and we settled down to a couple of rounds of Jenga over a few beers.

Drinks were a little pricy starting at 800yen for beers with the obligatory surcharge for a few nibblies that gets the establishment out of paying a liquor license. The staff were friendly and a couple of them were even trying to use a bit of English which was very kind.
photo 3

My friend tells me that the Malt Cats can get packed easily and the pool table is often difficult to get on but this is definitely an excellent bar well worth many return trips in the future. I hope to see you there – if you can find it

English Menu: sorry no English and no pictures but with the open bar you can do a bit of pointing and gesture.

Gaijin Friendly: Yup very. The seemed delighted to have us there. Very sweet.

Links: None

Costs: Beers start around 800yen

Directions: South side of Numazu Station heading towards the library.

Numazu – What’s On – April 2011

29 03 2011

Highlighting the best of what’s on for April 2011.

Party – Speak EZ 2nd Anniversary – 3,000 yen all you can drink!Friday April 1st at 21:00 pm- 0230am

Party – Charity Hanami Party & Collection, Numazu Taproom – Collecting food and supplies for Earthquake victims up north. Food is 1000yen per plate and Beer (omg this is too good to be true) 2000yen for selected beers. April 2nd 13:00 – 16:00

Party – ‘Spazz if you want to’ has their monthly bash hitting the decks at SpeakEZ this Saturday April 2 from 21:00 – 04:00.

Nature – There will be cherry blossom viewing walks held this month around Numazu. Apr 1 Mt Kanuki, Apr 2 Kadoike Park and Aytyubonotaki, Apr 3 Hara Area, Apr 5 Ashitaka Extensive Park. Leaving from 10:00am . Conact Monozukuri Taiken Skillpa a 0559523232.

Festival- Ose Festival April 4 07:30 ~

Festival – Uchiura Fishing Port Festival April 24 08:30-14:30

Festival – Kira Message Festival – 100 agricultural, forestry and marine stalls and a pro wrestling stage. Apr 3 10:00 – 16:00

Exhibition – Mon Musse Numazu – Exhibition of Dying Products by Ichiba Yuta and Yoshike Apr 2-24 10:00-17:00

Classes –Yukata making classes -April – July 19:00 – 21:00

If you have any more events to add chuck em in the comments below.


Riviere Lounge and Bar – Numazu Tokyu Hotel

25 10 2009

In Japanese culture a person’s identity can be traditionally referred to in two forms; Honne, inner truth, and Tatemae, outer display. This can often be frustrating for a foreigner with a western upbringing that encourages the physical display of your true inner emotions. Conversly, a Japanese person may have inner desires and feelings about a person or subject but will display an air of indifference if they feel that their desires and feeling are not socially accepted. But occasionally when trust has developed in a relationship with a Japanese person you are can be honored with a glimpse of Honne.

In Japan, as in the West, restaurants, cafes and bars are a medium for expression; a place where the diner can explore a slice of the inner mind of the proprietor, honne. It seems to me, that in Japan restaurants shyly protect their honne from the outer world in the same way the people do. Allow me to explain; most restaurants in Japan show very little of them selves to the outside world of the bustling street. More often than not the outside, tatemae, of their establishments are very sober in appearance and give away little of what is truly inside. Once entering a restaurant I am often surprised by the level of detail and personality in both the food and decor. To me this is a great bearing of the soul as if as a reward for taking that inquisitive step beyond the outer walls and into the hear of the place. It’s all or nothing.

To carry the metaphor further, restaurants, cafes and bars in Japan rarely position themselves with little thought for the view from the windows of their establishment, often preferring to black out the windows on busy streets to prevent the casual pedestrian from peering into the inner truth of the establishment.

However, like some Japanese people, there are exceptions to the rule. Quite often when honne merges into the open display of tatemae something quite extraordinary can emerge. Riviere – Lounge and Bar in the Tokyu Hotel on Numazu’s south side is one of these beautiful and inspiring exceptions to the rule.

Riviere is a display of 20 century decadence, and it is on show to the world. I approached Riviere from the high ceiling Hotel foyer, supported by elegant pillars. Potted stands of greenery make a bikini’s attempt at modest privacy. I stumble down the few steps to the sunken level of the lounge bar. On first entering all I can do is make the briefest glimpse at the lounge bar before being captivated by the lazy flow of the Kano River and luscious green peeks of the Numazu Alps just beyond the outskirts of town. The massive floor to ceiling bay windows expose the full length of Riviere to the world beyond and in turn the world beyond becomes part of Riviere and you.

Riviere 2

A noble looking waiter, with black vest and elegant long black skirt, escorts me to a window seat. Piano sounds playing in a distant hall sooths my ears as I crumple into creamy couch chairs.  Chilled water, hand towel and a menu arrive with barely a notice. I feel exposed with my immediate proximity to the bay windows on my right and the occasional bobbing of heads from guests in the lobby above and to my left. However, this exposure is cathartic in its beauty and rewards you with an atmosphere of honesty and trust.


Drinks and food are not cheap, but nor would you expect them to be in such an establishment. With a cappuccino coming in at around 800yen, a trip to Riviere is a treat, a splurge for your senses.

I order a cappuccino and my wife orders a pot of Earl Grey tea.  We talk quietly as if we are in a library, sharing smiles and recounting old stories. It is as if the openness of Riviere compels you to recount your inner thoughts, your honne.

My chocolate dusted cappuccino arrives, a creamy foam bobs on top. One taste and I am content. I pour my wife’s tea. She adds her sugars and milk, stirs her cup and sips. I see that she has closed her eyes, her shoulders have visibly relaxed and a small moan of pleasure emanates from her. Perhaps for the tenth time we have been to Riviere she tells me this is the best tea she has ever had. I can smell the rich oil of bergamot in her tea. I steal a taste and am pleasantly surprised with the mild orange flavor; a testament of a good Earl Grey.

My wife and I chat for a little longer before two of our friends arrive. They barely see us, captivated as they are by the view beyond the windows. I smile at my wife. She returns a knowing smile. Our friends will be in for a treat and we will be fortunate enough to share it with them.

Locaton: From the south side of the station head directly south along the main road for about 500meters on your right you will see the Tokyu Hotel. Enter the foyer and head up the stairs it will be straight in front of you. For a map check out the link here MyMaps at

Stlye: Cafe and Lounge Bar

English menu: sure did

Picture menu: There are some pictures.

Gaijin friendly: Yes. The hotel is part of an international chain that often receives international guests. English, in varying levels, is spoken by staff.

Phone: 55 952 2411

Address: 100-1, Agetsuchi-cho, Numazu-shi, Shizuoka  410-0802

Link: Tokyu Hotel Numazu

Cost: Cost of a cup of tea came in at 750yen and a cappuccino was 850yen.