Brewery Visit to Saito Shuzo

Brewery Visit to Saito Shuzo

One of our team’s favourite brands, among those produced in Fushimi’s Sake District, is Eikun. This brand of sake has a completely different taste depending on its grade and kind.

We offer samplings of Eikun on our Kyoto Insider Sake Experience tour. Its fruity flavor is popular with tourists from all over the world. Saito Shuzo, located along the Takase River in Fushimi is the brewery which produces Eikun.

We had a chance to visit this brewery on 9th October, on the same day that this year’s new batch of sake had just been made available. Mr Nakamura, the manufacturing manager, gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of his brewery.

In the Brewery Saito Shuzo

The current sake brewmaster (or ‘toji’ in Japanese) at Saito Shuzo is Mr Urai. He belongs to an organization called Nanbu Toji, founded originally in Iwate prefecture. The brewmaster, or toji, is responsible for managing and directing the entire sake-making process. It requires abundant experience, knowledge and skill to become a toji.
They say that the quality of staff at Saito Shuzo is such that many of them have the same level of skill as the highest qualified ‘toji’. When we heard that, we came up with a simple question – when multiple superior people work together, how can things operate smoothly? However, at Saito Shuzo, it seems there is no problem in balancing the egos of excellent brewers. These highly skilled professionals work together with the joint aim of creating something great. It’s as simple as that. After hearing these stories we could easily see why the sake produced by this team has such an appeal.

Secret of Making Sake

Even in such an environment where human skill is undeniable, the use of machines is not disregarded. In the brewery, where machines are best placed to complete a step in the sake making process, they’re employed to do so. The brewer constantly checks and manages each of these processes – so the human touch is always there, to ensure the sake quality is never compromised.

During our visit, the chilling machine was cooling down the steamed rice.

A brewer was constantly checking both the steamed rice and the cooled rice.

The steamed rice was made up of rice polished to 45%. It was shining like a jewel.
For the first time ever, we were able to try a sample of the steamed rice from this stage of the sake-making process. The rice was unexpectedly hard, and very different from typical cooked food rice. This steamed sake rice will become Kotosennen Junmai Daiginjo, which you can read about in our article “Top 4 Bottles you must try in Kyoto”.

The steamed rice made up of rice polished to 45%

Sake Tasting

After our guided tour of the brewery was complete, they invited us to a sake tasting session. We tasted Junmai Daiginjo “Ichigin”, made using Yamada Nishiki sake rice, thought of as ‘the king of sake rice’. The rice has been polished to 35%, and the sake was  ‘junmai nama genshu’, meaning it was unfiltered sake, with no added water or heat sterilization. On top of this, it was also a ‘junmai koshu’, or ‘aged sake’.

テイスティング

Bottles that they produce

The brewery has won many prizes

After the tasting, we couldn’t help ourselves but buy a bottle of Junmai Namagenshu 24 H (a type of nama genshu which is bottled within 24 hours after squeezing) and Koto Sennen Junmai.

Saito Shuzo opens their brewery for visitors in March and October every year. This is a must-do for genuine fans of Japanese sake.

For those who can’t visit due to time restrictions, you can always try some of Saito Shuzo brewery’s sake by picking up a bottle when you’re in the area. Or, join us on a Kyoto Insider Sake Experience tour, where you’ll get to try and learn about a variety of sake and the secrets of the brewing process (including our beloved Eikun!) first-hand.

When visiting Kyoto, you can’t miss a sake tour of Fushimi – so why not join us on a hunt for the area’s best sake, and find your favourite along the way?

TOURS

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Our Sake Tour Reviews

  •   So very glad I chose this tour. I had no knowledge of the creative process required for sake production. Kotaro painstakingly walked us through the entire “brewing” procedure and the differences among the many types of sake created with different rices, percentages of polishing, pasteurization...More

    thumb maggie44113
    3/14/2020
  •   The Sake experience in Kyoto gave us the perfect Chance to learn everything we wanted to know about Sake. Our Host Kotaro was very friendly, answering all of our questions. I liked the variety of Sakes we got to taste and especially the food-pairing was...More

    thumb Leonferdinandcorin
    3/11/2020
  •   Very informative tour and tasting. The guide, Kotaro, spoke perfect English and was very knowledgeable. The regular museum was closed (like most of Japan at the moment) but we still managed to visit another brewery instead. The tastings were great - very different styles of...More

    thumb GreenSandwich
    3/10/2020
  •   Highly informative tour with excellent explanations behind the different types of sake. Find out which you like and how to find it in a bottle shop!

    thumb jamesh202020
    3/09/2020
  •   We had a fantastic time during our insider sake experience tour. Kotaro was very knowledgeable and friendly and made the experience very enjoyable for us. We learned the true way to enjoy sake both by itself and with food thanks to Kotaro. I would definitely...More

    thumb MrPedroB
    3/03/2020
  •   Extremely informative to finally understand the various types of sake and choose your favourite and how to combine with food. Highly recommended!

    thumb marcofP4557RC
    3/03/2020
  •   Kotaro was very knowledgeable and described the tour very well. He answered all of my questions and helped out a great deal with my understanding. I would recommend this tour to anyone who is interested in learning about sake

    thumb Sampenna
    3/03/2020
  •   The tour included a visit to a brewery with our guide, Asahi, giving a very informed overview of how Sake is made. He was able to answer any questions we had and made it an easy process to understand. There were tastings of 3 Sakes...More

    thumb GharghurMark
    3/01/2020
  •   The many reviews saying how good this tour is are spot on: this is a very good tour. Kotaro is very knowledgeable, ready to answer questions from all, whether general, technical or historical. The info he provided, particularly with the food pairing (which was a...More

    thumb og646
    2/22/2020
  •   Totally awesome experience. Everything was made clear. Meeting point was easy to find - just a couple of hundred metres from the nearest train station. The tour itself was extremely informative and enjoyable. There was two tastings involved - one at the main Sake brewery...More

    thumb therealbogeyman
    2/19/2020

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