A sake brewery tour is full of fun for those who are fascinated by Japanese sake, as there are opportunities to see the brewing process and to taste various types of sake. Here are 5 selected places to visit on a sake brewery tour that can be enjoyed as as day trips from Tokyo.
1. Koyama Brewery
Koyama Brewery is the only remaining sake brewery in the Tokyo city area. Their representative sake, Marushin Masamune, was given its name after the famous katana sword Masamune because its clean aftertaste resembles the clean cut of a sword. Tours (appx. 40 min) are held twice daily from 11:00 am and 2:00 pm, with a video and explanation of the brewing process, and a tasting afterwards. Although entry to the manufacturing area is not permitted, it can be observed through a glass barrier from early September to early May (unavailable on certain days). The tour is 500 JPY per person, and is available for a group of more than 5 people. A reservation must be made more than a week before the tour, by email or fax. Koyama Brewery is within a 6 minute walk from Tokyo Metro Akabaneiwabuchi Station.
2. OZAWA SHUZO
OZAWA SHUZO, located in Okutama, creates sake with an authentic brewing process. Their signature sake Sawanoi is produced with high skill brewing techniques in an environment surrounded by mountains with a clean breeze and water trickling between rocks. Reservation for the brewery tour (appx. 45 min) is advised prior to the visit. Although bookings can be made online, for those who are making reservations at the last minute, on the day, or for a group more than 11 people, booking must be made by telephone. There are no entry fees. Tasting is available after the tour (unavailable for groups), so you can experience the charm of Sawanoi to the fullest. OZAWA SHUZO can be reached in approximately an hour and a half by train from JR Shinjuku Station, and is a 3 min walk from JR Sawai Station.
3. Ishikawa Brewery
Ishikawa Brewery, located in Fussa, creates Japanese sake called Tamajiman and a local beer called Tama No Megumi. During the brewery tour (free of charge, appx. 1 hr), you can learn stories about the sake production and brewing process. The historic manufacturing area of Ishikawa Brewery creates an authentic atmosphere. The excellence of Japanese architecture can also be observed on this tour. Additionally, English guidance is available on weekdays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm (inquiries are required for weekends). Reservations must be made by telephone for a tour, at least one day in advance. This brewery can be reached within 5 min by taxi from the south exit of JR Haijima Station.
4. Toshimaya Shuzou
Toshimaya Shuzou, located in Higashimurayama, was established in 1596. This was the first brewery in Edo (the former name of Tokyo) to create shirozake (sake developed from the older Chinese peach-flavored sake). The signature sake of this historical brewery is called Kinkon Masamune. This is prestigious sake is only available in Japan and has been as an offering to the gods at Meiji Jingu and Kandamyojin Shrine, the two principal shrines of Tokyo. It is also appreciated as local sake of Edo/Tokyo. To see this brewery a reservation must be made at least one day in advance. An online booking is recommended as these receive higher priority. Please see the guidelines on precautions before making a reservation. A request must be made if you wish to experience tasting (admission fee will be charged). This brewery is within 20 min on foot from Seibu Higashimurayama Station.
This is a brewery located in the center of Saitama in an area surrounded by mountains. Their motto is “above all is quality, all for consumers”. matsuokajyouzou’s delicious sake is made with deep mineral water from 130m below ground and high-quality rice. Their signature sake is called Mikado Matsu. Mikado Matsu has received the gold award at the competition held by the National Research Institute of Brewing consecutively for 8 years, and 16 times total. Booking by telephone, or email, is required to see this brewery (reservations can be made on the day). There is no admission fee. The tour is approximately 30 to 60 min long, with explanations and informative video of the brewing process, as well as a tasting. ｍatsuokajyouzou can be reached within 10 min by taxi from JR Ogawamachi Station.
The work ethic of the owners chief brewers and the look of the manufacturing areas are some of the highlights of a brewery tour. To enjoy this experience to the fullest, we suggest attending tours to breweries that don't offer English guidance with an accompanying interpreter.
*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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