The small island country of Japan began growing grapes around 718 AD during the Nara period, but the actual consumption of wine didn’t begin until the 16th century. During this time, Portugal sent Catholic Jesuit missionaries to Japan who made over 100,000 converts and also helped to spread a taste for wine as many of their gifts to locals were bottles of wine. Wine consumption was not popular during this time so receiving the imported bottles allowed the Japanese to have a higher understanding of quality grapes from around the world. During the 1900’s the Japanese preferred wine that was less acidic and more sweet - it was a common occurrence to add sweeteners such as honey to the wine. During the latter half of the 20th century there was a lot of Western influence over the viniculture of Japanese vineyards which helped increase an appreciation for more complex wines. Another aid was Japanese import taxes on wine being decreased so wine enthusiasts had more affordable access to wines from prominent regions in France and Italy. Japan is most famous for its production of sake (a rice wine that is made from fermenting rice into alcohol), but the production and quality of wine is slowly growing. There are 226 Michelin star restaurants in Tokyo alone which displays a great Japanese value on having quality food and drink. Some customs in Japan are to be polite, respectful and to be a great host which makes for some interesting and engaging tours. Many tours take place in the Yamanashi region of Japan where roughly 40% of the wine production spans over 60 wineries situated between lush-green hills and mountains.
126.5 million (2018)
377,915 sq km (145,914 sq mi)