One-of-a-Kind Vineyard in Japan Offers Alternative Interpretation of Vine-Training

"Why are there grape trees at the station?" is the main question enotourists and commuters alike have at the world's first and only railway-platform vineyard
One-of-a-Kind Vineyard in Japan Offers Alternative Interpretation of Vine-Training
A bit of a departure at the Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard (Courtesy of Shiojiri City Tourism Association)
Aug 4, 2020

Vineyards are the very picture of the rural, pastoral getaway: in romantic capers, in scenes of tranquil meditation, in reality. So you might be startled to find, in a city in central Japan, one growing right there amid the hustle and bustle of your morning commute. At the train station in Shiojiri, as passengers rush to catch their connections, the Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard hangs serenely overhead, its vines doing the slower work of budding, ripening and awaiting harvest.

You won’t find a sight quite like this anywhere else—it’s the only train station vineyard of its kind in the world. Shiojiri isn't quite a Tokyo- or Osaka-style mega-metropolis, though: Its local claim to fame is being the hub of the Kikyogahara Wine Valley, one of the country's oldest and most bountiful wine regions, where grapevine cultivation dates to the mid-19th century. The area is home to 10 wineries, with a reputation made on Merlot and Chardonnay.


Photos courtesy of Shiojiri City Tourism Association

Trains and vines at the Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard Trains and vines at the Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard Trains and vines at the Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard Trains and vines at the Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard Trains and vines at the Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard Trains and vines at the Shiojiri Station Platform Vineyard


The one above the tracks is nonetheless a surprise. “Before the harvest of the grapes, few tourists could recognize the grape trees,” Shiojiri City Tourism Association rep Hidehiro Shimomura told Unfiltered via email. “But after the harvest, lots of tourists were so surprised when they saw the grapes on the platform that they did a double take and said, 'Why are there grape trees at the station?’”

As it happens, the vineyard site on the third and fourth platforms of the station benefits from reflective floor tiles and exposure to the sky that provide the grapes plenty of sunlight. The challenges include the local fauna of a busy train station: Since the vines grow over the ticket gate, daily maintenance that a typical vineyard would receive isn’t quite possible, said Shimomura.

The station vineyard was originally planted in 1988 as a way to promote the area’s wine culture and specialty grapes. Merlot and Niagara vines are tended by local winegrowers, and community members volunteer to help cultivate the plants, learning how to fertilize, bind and prune the vines. The fruits of harvest are usually presented to visitors as welcome gifts and used for research in a local high school's winemaking class.

But last year, for the first time, it was declared that there would be train wine; the grapes were fermented at a local winery to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Shiojiri's municipal organization. About 100 bottles of that Shiojiri Station Merlot are scheduled to arrive this month.


Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.

Unfiltered Extra, Extra Oddities

You Might Also Like

Meet the Hampton Water Rosé Cocktail Champion

Meet the Hampton Water Rosé Cocktail Champion

Jon Bon Jovi crowns Chicago’s Nigal Vann winner of the first Rosé Rock Star cocktail …

Aug 12, 2022
Joe Jonas Adds Some Sparkle to Sangria Season

Joe Jonas Adds Some Sparkle to Sangria Season

The latest star to step onto the ready-to-drink cocktail stage is partnering with Ohza to …

Aug 4, 2022
Champagne Pommery Storms the Hamptons Fine Art Fair

Champagne Pommery Storms the Hamptons Fine Art Fair

The event's opening-night Bastille Day vernissage benefited the local Guild Hall cultural …

Jul 27, 2022
Sixers Star James Harden Puts the Beard on the Bottle

Sixers Star James Harden Puts the Beard on the Bottle

The NBA superstar and fashion icon teams with Jam Shed Wines to create J-Harden x J-Shed …

Jul 25, 2022
California Vintner Scott Pruett Races into Motorsports Press Hall of Fame

California Vintner Scott Pruett Races into Motorsports Press Hall of Fame

The Sierra Foothills’ speediest Syrah star will be inducted into the National Motorsports …

Jul 21, 2022
All-Star Roster of Celebrities Launches Thomas Ashbourne Cocktail Collection

All-Star Roster of Celebrities Launches Thomas Ashbourne Cocktail Collection

Partners Sarah Jessica Parker, Vanessa Hudgens, John Cena and more swing big on ready-to-dr…

Jul 14, 2022