Brewery tours are available so you can see the factory where liquor is produced as well as enjoy tasting their products. Here are 4 brewery tours that people who like Japanese liquor should definitely not miss.
1. Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum
Fushimi, in Kyoto, is Japan's biggest production area for sake. Gekkeikan is an especially famous well-established brewery in the area, and they have the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum there. A brewery building built in 1909 was reformed in 1982 to be a museum featuring documents and materials. They preserve and exhibit important brewing-related tools and explain the history of Fushimi brewing and Japanese sake in general. It's a popular spot that 2.5 million have visited so far. You can experience the atmosphere of the town during the golden age for sake brewing while walking around the sights like the willow trees on the outer moat of Fushimi Castle and along the Hori River, the white brewery buildings made from earth, the principal residence of the Okura family, etc. After you take the tour, you can try 3 different kinds of sake including ginjo (sake made with rice milled to 60%) at the tasting counter. *Entrance fee is 300 JPY (with gift)
2. Kizakura Fushimigura
On the grounds of Kizakura's headquarters, they recently opened the Kizakura Fushimigura. It's a facility where you can take a tour of both their sake and local beer production lines, the first of its kind in Japan for a large company. In this 5-story building, the 2nd floor is where they brew local beer, 4th floor is the beer packaging line, the 5th floor is where they brew ginjo sake, and all of them can be viewed through glass. On the second floor there is a 200-seat restaurant where you can enjoy sake and local beer along with Kyoto cuisine as well as a souvenir shop, so this is a facility with plenty to see.
3. Oishi Sake Brewery Miyamakura
Oishi Sake Brewery, which boasts a 300 long history as a skillful brewery in Tanba, moved the brewery in 2014 to Miyama, an area near Kayabuki no Sato, a village of thatched houses. You can take a tour of the new brewery in Miyama (reservations required, Japanese only). Sake brewing is mostly in the winter, so depending on the season the tour may differ. At the company shop, Miyamaji Sake no Yakata, you can taste sake, see related documents, and buy different types of sake. In Kameoka, the former brewery manages the Tambaji Sake no Yakata, The first floor of the main building has a canning factory and a local sake shop as well as a sake tasting corner. The 2nd floor is home to an exhibition of documents relating to sake production. The former brewery, the main warehouse, is now a shop complete with sake tasting corner. The former rice milling area is now a Japanese-style cafe and they also sell Tamba products like miso and soy sauce. Both of these areas are in places with beautiful mountain scenery, so please add them to your itinerary.
Oishi Sake Brewery Co.,Ltd.
Oishi Sake Brewery Co.,Ltd.
4. Hakurei Brewery Amanokura
Hakurei Brewery opened in 1832 in Tango-Yura, an area in northern Kyoto. It's surrounded by the Sea of Japan as well as the Mt. Oe mountain range. The legend of a sake-loving demon named Shutendouji still exists in this area that has deep ties to sake.
In the sake tasting area of Amanokura, the staff will teach you about the history of the brewery, the origins of the sake brands, and about the sake production process. You can taste local sake from the brewery as well as seasonal unrefined sake, so this is a spot perfect for sake-lovers. The Tenpokura that was built when they first opened for business remains, and retains metal kettles and other tools necessary for brewing as well as the nostalgic atmosphere. They also sell local beer, wine, shochu, original Kura Sweets, so please enjoy that along with the explanation of the employees.
*Photo is for illustration purposes.
Sea facing Tango-Yura
Kyoto's breweries are supported by the proud chief brewers that are responsible for upholding the tradition and the process. When you visit the breweries you can learn about the history and taste of sake, so it's a great opportunity! Most of them require reservations, so make sure to contact them in advance. Some places allow you to easily apply over the internet.
*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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