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Recommended Sake From Kansai! Why Does So Much High-Quality Japanese Sake Come From Kyoto and Hyogo?
Kyoto and Hyogo, prefectures within the Kansai region of Japan, have long been famous for their sake brewing. This article will showcase the charms of Kansai sake and introduce a special brand from Hyogo that should be on every fan's radar!
Where Is Kansai? Why Is Their Sake So Good?
The Kansai region encompasses six prefectures in the midwest of mainland Japan: Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hyogo, Shiga, and Wakayama.
For a period of over 1,000 years, from ancient times until the mid-19th century, Kyoto was the center of Japan and the home of the Emperor. Kyoto and the surrounding Kansai areas were also central to the development of Japanese culture, and many of Japan's deepest traditions can be traced back here. Naturally, one of these traditions is sake, which spread across Japan after being manufactured in Nara and Hyogo since the middle ages.
The abundance of clean, pure water in the area is a vital element of Kansai sake production. Hyogo in particular is also famous for its renowned Yamada Nishiki sake rice, which is still cultivated to this day. On top of this, there are numerous port cities in the region, which allowed for Kansai sake to spread across the country. Towns such as Fushimi in Kyoto and Nada in Hyogo became particularly famous for their thriving sake industries, and both are still celebrated today for their high-quality brewing.
Check This Out! Kansai’s Quintessential Sake Brewery
In the six prefectures of Kansai, dozens of proud sake breweries compete to create the ultimate brew. In Hyogo, one of the birthplaces of sake and its largest producer, there are over 70 breweries, each with a distinct character and flair. One of the most famous is Nishiyama Brewery in Tamba City.
Specialized sake brewing masters are known as "toji." In Tamba, the home of Nishiyama Brewery, a group known as the "Tamba Toji" became famous across the country for their exceptional sake. Nishiyama Brewery itself has been producing sake in this historic area for over 170 years, using locally-grown optimal sake rice along with fresh, soft water from their own wells. In addition to being shipped all over Japan, Nishiyama sake is also exported to 36 countries around the world, gaining them a strong international following.
Try This Sake From Nishiyama Brewery!
Our top recommendation amongst Nishiyama Brewery's hefty collection of sake is “Kotsuzumi Rojo-Hana-Ari Kurobotan.” Tajima Goriki, the strain of rice used, is perfect for sake brewing but notoriously difficult to grow, earning the nickname “the phantom sake rice.” The resulting brew is rich and full-bodied, pairing well with hearty meat dishes. The best way to fully savor this exceptional sake is to slow down, relax, and take your time!
Kansai, the birthplace of sake, is home to dozens of fascinating historical sake breweries with countless varieties of top-class sake. Next time you visit Kansai, taste your way through this exquisite selection and uncover your new personal favorite!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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