Takane Elementary School and Takane No.2 Dam | images courtesy Hida Takayama

A key strategy to reducing our environmental impact involves integrating principles of a circular economy that prioritizes reuse, recovery, and refurbishment of existing infrastructure and resources. The Hida Takayama Distillery is doing just that with a new initiative to transform an abandoned school into a whiskey distillery.


The Hida Takayama Distillery project kicked off last year with a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised over 37 million yen (roughly $260,000 usd) to renovate Takane Elementary School, which had been abandoned in 2007 due to depopulation.

It was local a sake maker Funasaka Brewery that saw possibilities in the old building and decided to spearhead the initiative. The site of Takane Elementary School has an altitude of nearly 900 meters. The water that springs from the mountains and the low temperature throughout the year make it a good place for whisky making.

Not only that, a partnership with Chubu Electric allows the distillery to age their barrels of whiskey inside the nearby Takane No.2 Dam. As it turns out, the hollow gravity dam, with its year-round cool temperatures and adequate humidity, is the perfect place to age whiskey.

before and after photos show how the school’s gymnasium is transformed into a whiskey distillery

Hida Takayama Distillery began producing whiskey in May but actual sales aren’t expected until sometime in 2026 or later. In the meantime, the distillery is planning tours of their facility prioritizing crowdfunding supports but opening up the tours to the general public later this fall.

Hida Takayama Whiskey barrels being aged inside the dam

Takane No.2 Dam

the renovated gymnasium of former Takamine Elementary School