Best 5 Destinations to Enjoy Local Sake in Japan

sake tasting

Japan–blessed with delicious rice and water, has many sake breweries throughout the country. And the taste of sake changes depending on the characteristics of the region. Today I’d like to introduce 5 best destinations that you can enjoy the Sake tour.

1.Kyoto-Fushimi

The land of Fushimi, blessed with high-quality underground water veins from the Momoyama Hills, were once called “Fushimizu”(means groundwater). About 400 years ago, authentic sake brewing started since this underground water was suitable for sake brewing.

Fushimi used to be a castle town and a port of the Yodo River water transport. And you can enjoy the sight of the boat that floats beside the willow trees and breweries white walls that shines along the Uji River and the canals.

Gekkeikan

The oldest sake brewery in Fushimi. There is a museum space that you can see the traditional manufacturing process and the history of sake brewing. You can also taste the groundwater and 3types of sake.
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation: None (Group over 15 people are necessary)
※To enter the optional tour of “Sakekoubo”
 reservation are necessary
・English guide:Available
URL
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Kizakura Kappa country

Brewery that makes Sake and Craft Beer by using the ground water of Fushimi. You can join the tour to see the sake brewery and there’s also some museum space. After the tour, there’s a restaurant that you can have delicious dishes and sake or beer.
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation: Necessary
・English guide: Available
URL
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Yume Hyakkei

A retro cafe renovated from the old Gekkeikan headquarters built in Taisho era. It is also a souvenir shop, that sells about 100 kinds of sake brands that’s made in Fushimi.

There’s some line of label from the bottle of Fushimi brand sake. You can have some unique dessert such as Sake castella and Sake ice cream. Coffee that they serve is also made from the ground water.
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・Sake Tour:――
・Reservation:Not necessary
・English menu:Available
URL
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Fujioka sake brewery/Nihonshu Bar “En”

Fujioka sake brewery was founded in 1902 and was located in Higashiyama, Kyoto. During Taisho era, they moved the brewery to Fushimi. In 1994, the owner passed away so they closed the business. But the owner’s son decided to open the sake brewery again and started the sake brewery from the beginning. Now they only make the “Sokuu” brand bottle.

Sake tour is held during October to next May, the term that they’re not making sake. This tour is 40-60min.tour and 2 to 14 people are able to join the tour, so after you make an application by e-mail form. There will be an answer if you can join the tour. You must apply the e-mail form from 3months-2weeks before the day you want to join the tour. There is no free sake tasting, but you’ll be able to have the sake at the “Sake bar EN”.
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation:Necessary
・English guide: None
URL
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2.Kobe-Nada

The seaside of Hyogo Prefecture, between Nishinomiya and Kobe, sake brewing began during Muromachi era. Authentic sake brewing started and increased from beginning of Edo era. 5town that was face to the ocean–Imazu, Nishinomiya, Uozaki, Mikage, Saigo
was blessed with shipping transport. Since this 5towns were blessed with shipping transport, the sake breweries
were consentrated in this area. Now this area is called “Nadagoko” and still famous area for sake. And there’s some breweries that you can visit and taste the sake!

Hakuturu sake brewery museum

Hakutsuru Sake Brewery old brewery that is located in Mikage, one of the Nadagoko, which was founded in 1743. Hakutsuru is one of the big sake company that has big modern factories. One of the factory in front of Sumiyoshi station there is a museum that
you can visit. At the museum, you can see some old exhibits of sake brewing.

Hontenishigo-gura is an classic brewery building that was built in the early Taisho era. After they close the brewery in 1969, they changed the brewery to a museum space. Inside the museum, you can see the sake making dolls and some tools that was really used.
There’s also a movie that explain the sake making process. Besides that there’s some tasting space and a gift shop.
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・Sake Tour:Avaialble
・Reservation:Not necessary
・English guide:Avaiable
・URL:http://www.hakutsuru.co.jp/english/culture/museum.html
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Sakuraen Sakuramasamune museum

There’s lots of sake breweries in Nadagoko, but the oldest brewery is Sakuramasamune that is located in Uozaki and was founded in 1625, from Edo period. The 6th generation owner of Sakuramasamune–Aramakiya Tazaemon, discovered the high-quality ground water that’s called “Miyamizu”. ”Miyamizu” is a high quality ground water that is necessary to brew sake.

In the head office factory, there is a museum space that’s called “Sakuraen・Sakuramasamune museum”. If you go through the retro gates from Edo era, and enter 2nd floor of Sakuraen, you’ll see the the nostalgic exhibits and learn the history of Sakuramasamune’s sake brewing that continued for 400 years.

Besides the exhibitions, you can also experience creating your original sake labels. After the tour, you can have some delicious dishes at the Sake brewing dining room and cafe. Also there’s a gift shop that you can buy some souvenirs.
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation:None
・English guide:None
URL
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Sawanotsuru

Sawanotsuru is a old brewery that is located in Saigo–western part of Nadagoko, and was founded in 1717. The sake brewery that was build more than 300years ago, is a cultural property designation. Now this brewery is renovated as a museum that is kept in same condition from the past.

In this museum, you can see the “Funaba”(the space that the squeezed the mash) that was at the basement of the brewery.This place is rare even in Japan. You can also see model of the barrel boat that transported the sake barrel from Nada to Edo.
At the traditional sake brewery tour, you can see the exhibition of the sake brewing that continued from end of Edo era. If you visit the gift shop, it is treasure trove of sake items that you can’t find anywhere else.
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation: Not necessary(Group over 10 people are necessary)
・English guide: Available
URL
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Kikumasaune sake museum

Kikumsamune is one of the big and old sale brewery in Nadagoko. It was founded in 1659, by the Kanou-family. There are some big factories and an old–fashioned museum in Uozaki, near the Uozaki-station.

The old sake brewery museum that was built in early Edo era was collapse by the Great Hanshin earthquake. But in 1999, they rebuilt the museum by using some part of the old brewery and the exhibitions that wasn’t damaged. At the museum you can see the equipments that was used in the past, and now important cultural property. Also you can learn the secret of old Kikumasamune’s sake brewing.
After the tour, you taste the Kikumasamune brand sake at the tasting space and buy some souvenirs at the gift shop.
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation: Reservation required for group visitors
・English guide:Available
URL
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KobeShushinkan

Kobeshushinkan is a sake brewery that was founded in 1751 located at Mikage. The famous brand bottle names that is made in Kobeshusinkan is “Fukujyu”. Kobeshushinkan is not a big sake brewery like ” Hakuturu” or “Kikumasamune”, but attracts peaople’s attention because of the big news in 2008. Brand sake bottle “Fukujyu” was served in the Novel prize dinner in 2008. Since then “Fukujyu” got populor and now is loved from all over the world.

At the brewery, of course you can enjoy the sake brewery tour, but also there’s a big hall in the brewery. There might be an event, classic/jazz concert..you can even have a sake brewery wedding party. Beside the brewery, there’s some shop that you can buy some snacks that goe well with sake.

If you pass the Sugidama and the gate with Shimenawa–you can see the brewery in front of you. At the brewery, there’s 3tour that you can choose.(A-course / B-course / C-course). You can join all the tour for free!(B-course needs a reservation 2days before)

A-course: Video(shows manufacturing process) + Tasting + Shopping

B-course: Video(shows manufacturing process) + Sake brewery tour + Tasting + Shopping

C-course: Tasting + Shopping
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation:Group over 6 people are necessary
・English guide:Available
URL
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3.Hirosima-Saijo

Hiroshima-Saijo is also one of the famous sake town in Japan.
Saijo also has high-quality ground water and the weather in winter is very suitable for sake brewing. And because of the temperture difference of the high-land and the high-qulity ground water, the Saijo was able to grow the hihu-qulity sake rice.

Saijo’s enthusiastic in brewing Ginjo category sakes. This is because the special rice milling machine for the Ginjo fermentation was invented in Saijo. The sake town in Saijo will be located at the Saijo station (JR line). Around the Saijo station there’s 7 sake breweries, and you can visit some of the breweries.

Fukubijin sake brewery

Fukubujin was founded in 1917 and has a longest chimney in Saijo. This brewery had an outstanding technique for the sake brewing, so lots of the brew masters all around Japan came to learn this technique. So Fukubijin sake brewery had a nick name called ” Saijo Sake School”.

The brewey that is not used now is renovated as a museum space and you can see some tools that was used it the past. At the gift shop you can taste more that 10 types of sakes. If you like it, you can also buy these sake too.
You can also try the high-quality ground water, and if you have some empty bottle you can even refill it.
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・Sake Tour:Not available (Only for visit)
・Reservation: ―
・English guide:None
URL
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Kirei sake brewery

Kirei sake brewery was founded in 1907. The brand name is “Yoshidaya” The sake of Kirei sake brewery is dry and refreshing taste.

Beside the brewery, there’s a gift shop called “Manekiya”. At this gift shop you can taste more than 10 types of sakes.

There’s lots og orignal goods such as an apron, Tshirt and so on. Also, there’s some unique food that’s made from sake. Such as “Sake udon” ,”Sake lees bean snacks” and “Sake gelato”.
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・Sake Tour:Not available (Not open to the public)
・Reservation: ―
・English guide:None
URL
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Hakubotan sake brewery

Hakubotan sake brewery was founded in 1675. This sake brewery is the oldest in Saijo. The brad bottle “Hakubotan” was loved by the cerebrity in Japan.

The old brewery that is not used now is a museum space now. You can see the history from about 350years ago. There’s some sake barrels, sake pots and other tools from the past.

There’s 3 bottles that you only can buy at this brewery. “Daiginjo Namagenshu”, “Namachozo Junmai Ginjo” and “Hiroshima no Sake Genshu”. You also can taste these 3 bottles.
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation: Necessary
・English guide:None
URL
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Kamoizumi sake brewery

Kamoizumi sake brewery was founded in 1912. This sake brewery is the pioneer of the Junmai brewing. Next to the brewery there is a western style building cafe called “Shusenkan”. You can have a desserts made from sake and also have some sake flights.

If you make a reservation, you can also enter the sake modern factory. At the factory you can see how the brew master makes the sake today and also you can taste some sake!
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation: Necessary
・English guide:None
URL
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Kamotsuru sake brewery

Kamotsuru sake brewery is the pioneer of the Ginjo fermentation. This brewery had been awarded at the sake competition several times.
You can see some part of the brewery, and see a movie about the sake brewing. At the gift shop, there’re some bottles that you can buy only at this shop. You can also taste the sake at the gift shop too.

Beside the brewery, there’s a restaurant called “Furasuya”. You can have some “sake pots” and some delicious dishes.
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation: Not necessary(Group over 10 people are necessary)
・English guide:Movie is in English
URL
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4. Nigata

Nigata prefecture is a big sake producing area, and has a largest number of breweries. There are about 90 sake breweries in Nigata, and about 40 breweries can be visited.

It is a well known as a famous rice producing area, so Nigata is able to grow lots of high-quality sake rice. And also, you can get good quality water from the river and the ground water from the snow melted water. In the winter season, it is very cold there and this weather is suitable for sake brewing.

Ayumasamune Sake Brewery

Nigata is famous for its dry sake. But Ayumasamune’s brand bottle “Ayumasamune” is a sweet sake. The brewery building was built 140 years ago with oak tree. You can visit the brewery and see the producing area. Of course there’s some tasting too.
And if you were lucky, you can see and taste the ground water. This ground water gush 6,000 liter in an hour.
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・Sake Tour: Available
・Reservation: Required to enter the producing area
・English guide:None
URL
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Uonuma Sake Brewery

Uonuma sake brewery was founded in 1873. The brand bottle name of this sake brewery is “Tenjinbayashi”. This sake has lots of “Umami”taste and aroma from the rice. It is a rare taste called “Umakuchi”.

You can visit the brewery and see how this rare “Umakuchi” is made. Landlady will explain about the manufacturing process. You can also visit the rice-koji factory and see how the rice-koji is made, and there’s a workshop so you can make your own “koji soap”!
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・Sake Tour:Available
・Reservation: Required for the rice-koji factory
・English guide:None
URL
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Tamakawa sake brewery (Echigo Yukikurakan)

Tamakawa sake brewery’s brand bottle name is “Tamafuumi”. But other than this “Tamafuumi”, there are lots of unique bottles from this brewery. Such as “Sparkling Yukikura”(Sparkling Daiginjo Sake) and “Ittokii”(Sake for wineglass)

At the brewery, of course you can see the manufacturing area, but also you can see the rare store house made with snow. You can taste the ground water(except for winter season) and 10 types of sake. You can also have some foods made from sake, such as “Sake lees pickles”, “Sake sweet bun” and “Sake cake”
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・Sake Tour:Available
・Reservation: None
・English guide:None (English Audio guide is available)
URL
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Imayotsukasa sake brewery

Imayotsuksa sake brewery was founded in 1767 and is located near the Nigakta station, so you can walk to the brewery. It is founded 252 years ago but the building is modern and stylish. Inside of the building will be old-fashioned atmosphere.

At the tour, you can see the manufacturing process and the history.
After the tour, you can taste many kinds of sakes, and also the delicious “Amazake”(Non alcoholic fermented rice drink)
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・Sake Tour:Available
・Reservation: None((Group over 8people are necessary)
・English guide:None (English leaflet and the English movie guide is available)
URL
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5.Takayama


Takayama city still have lots of old building and old townscape. There’s some high quality water from the Hida mountains, great rice and cold winter season. And in this city there’s 7 sake breweries that you can visit.

Harada sake brewery

Harada sake brewery was founded in 1855. They still make the sake in the traditional ways. From April to October, you can see the producing area for free. If you buy the “Ochoko” sake cup at the place (200yen), you can taste more than 10 kinds of sakes.
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・Sake Tour:Not available
・Reservation: ―
・English guide:―
URL
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Niki sake brewery

Niki sake brewery was founded in 1695. They make only Ginjo and Daiginjo category sakes. Unpasteurized fresh taste sake called “Himuro” and sake that has full of umami taste sake called “Tamanoi” is their brand bottles. Other than these two, there’s 7 kinds of sake. You can taste them by paying.(100yen – 200yen a cup)
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・Sake Tour:Not available
・Reservation: ―
・English guide:―
URL
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Hirase sake brewery

Hirase sake brewery was founded in around 1623. This is the oldest sake brewery in Takayama. And still the same family owns the brewery. It’s their 15th generation.
The brand bottle name is “Kusudama”. The Hida area brand rice “Hidahomare” is used. You can taste different category such as Junmai, Tokubetsu honjozo and so on. It will be 100yen – 200yen a ochoko cup.
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・Sake Tour:Not available
・Reservation: ―
・English guide:―
URL
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Hirata sake brewery

Hirata sake brewery was founded 1895. This sake brewery is focus on handmade traditional way to brew sake.
The bottle brand is “Hida no Hana”, Hida area brand rice “Hidahomare” is also used. You can taste all the sake by paying 100yen – 200yen a ochoko cup. There’s unique aged sake called “Suisen”. This Suisen is aged for more than 10 years. This aged sake is a category that you can’t see often, so you must try!
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・Sake Tour:Not available
・Reservation: ―
・English guide:―
URL
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As I introduced, there are lots of sake town and LOTS of sake breweries in Japan. But these sake breweries are often far away from the major cities, and hard to visit during the stay. And also most of the explanation are in Japanese so might be hard to understand
the secretes of the sake brewing and find out you favorite types of sake.

So if you’re coming around Kyoto, you are lucky! Our tour is located at Fushimi sake town, it will be only about 20 min from Kyoto station. On our tour Kyoto Insider Sake Experience, we will visit the sake brewery and learn the deep culture of sake brewing. And also we sill have some tasting session and try many kinds of sakes. After the tour, you’ll be able to understand your favorite type of sake. Then you’ll be able to enjoy many sake during your stay.

Book Kyoto Insider Sake Experience

Related post

  1. sake brewery visit
  2. Gekkeikan
  3. craft beer

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Our Sake Tour Reviews

  •   Highly recommend this tour. Kotaro was the perfect guide and incredibly knowledgeable. A great opportunity to learn the complexities of the sake varieties and brewing process.

    thumb Coastal02482194200
    10/13/2019
  •   Thanks for the nice Sake Experience. We really liked the setup to find the right sake for you and how to recognise it in the shop or on a menu. We tasted sake in combination with food, which brought a nice extra layer to the...More

    thumb Martijnv1135
    10/12/2019
  •   This was definitely a worthwhile experience to both learn about and enjoy sake. I came away knowing much better about my sake preferences and how to find them!

    thumb TS7521
    10/12/2019
  •   This is an excellent way to learn about sake. We can now read a sale label and understand what we are looking at plus we know what type of sake we like. Well worth the money.

    thumb PamelaBM1959
    10/12/2019
  •   A very informative experience. I learned a lot about how sake is produced, how the taste varies, and how to choose which sake to purchase. The best part was obviously the sake tasting, which included some quite unique varieties. The guide was very well-informed and...More

    thumb Courtney C
    10/11/2019
  •   Kotaro and Marika were fantastic guides on this interesting and informative tour. Had a great time learning more about the Nihonshu-making process (sake just means alcohol in Japanese), the history of it in Fushimi, the different types of Nihonshu, and how to pair food with...More

    thumb alexaroundworld
    10/09/2019
  •   This was the most educational tour I think I have ever been on! Not only did I learn so much about Sake and Japanese culture and history, but it was also great value for money. I highly recommend the 3 hour tour, we almost went...More

    thumb kjonsson2015
    10/08/2019
  •   We booked last minute onto this tasting and only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner on our trip around Japan. Kotaro was a great host. We learnt about “mouth seasoning” , how best to drink sake and how its taste also changes with...More

    thumb KerryQ24
    10/08/2019
  •   We visited the Kyoto Insider Sake Experience (KISE) as a large group of 6 people (two couples and grown children - drinking age in Japan is 20, so this isn't for kids or teens). We were all eager to learn a bit more about a...More

    thumb PKRead26
    10/07/2019
  •   We had initially been unable to attend, but Kotaro was so kind, and we had been able to reschedule for another day, and we're so happy for it!!! It was so much fun tasting all the sake, and figuring out how to read the labels,...More

    thumb thisisnichie
    10/07/2019

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