Sake and Shochu Breweries throughout Japan
Sakagura, or Sake breweries, can be found throughout Japan and have begun to offer tours of their facilities and a taste test from their selection. Each Sakagura has their own technique and flavor to their product and can offer a unique experience every time you go.
How to Properly Taste Sake and Shochu
During wine tours, many a connoisseur will look, swirl, smell, and then sip. How does one properly taste Sake and Shochu the way a connoisseur would? It’s pretty much the same as a connoisseur of wine but without the swirling. There’s no need to swirl sake, but taking in the fragrance and letting the drink sit on your tongue before swallowing would be best so you can fully appreciate the dryness, acidity, impact, and general presence of the alcohol.
Many Sakagura allow for tours of their facilities for free, as well as a corner for tasting their products. Most suggest that you make a reservation or enquire beforehand so they can have an English speaker ready for you, so please feel free to visit their home page or enquire at your nearest tourist information stand to see availability.
Otokoyama Sake Brewery and Museum
Otokoyama Sake is brewed with water from the mountain Taisetsu, known as “The Water of Long Life”. The site offers a museum dedicated to the history of the brewing of Sake as well as a tasting corner for you to enjoy some of that history for yourself.
Address: 2-7 Nagayama, Asahikawa, Hokkaido
Manotsuru’s award winning sake can be found at their facilities in Niigata. It is one of the few that doesn’t offer a tour of their breweries due to temperature control and the prevention of contamination. But they do offer an informative video in English as well as a taste testing corner where you can taste test their world class yield.
Address: 449 Manoshinmachi, Sado-shi, Niigata-ken
Ishikawa Syuzou is in Fussa City, Tokyo. Offering English tours during week days, this Sakagura will take you on a tour of its century year old facilities, and then you can enjoy a taste testing of their Sake, which is called “Tamajiman”. Beer is also brewed on the premises.
Address: 1 Kumagawa, Fussa-shi, Tokyo-to
Sempuku Sake Brewery
Sempuku, found in Kure City, Hiroshima, offers a tour of their facilities as well as a hands-on tour of their history as a brewery in one of their halls. Of course, there’s a tasting in their shop for you to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Address: 7-9-10 Hondori, Kure-shi, Hiroshima-ken
Kagoshima is known for being one of the top consumers of shochu. So it’s no wonder you can find many places offering tours. One of which is Galleria Hombo which has a micro distillery next to its shop that shows visitors how shochu is made. There are staff there that speaks English as the distillery itself is quite commercialized for both Japanese and Western tourists so there will be little problem finding your way around. The shop itself offers free tasting of shochu and other liquors.
Address: 3-27 Nanei, Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima-ken
Awamori is a variant of Shochu that is made on the Ryukyuan islands and uses long grained Thai rice and black koji mold instead of the Japonica short grain and white koji mold. While you enjoy the beaches of Okinawa, try Zuisen Distillery where you can have a tour of their facilities, see how this famous and unique version of Shochu is made and taste test some Awamori as well.
Address: 1-35 Shurisakiyama-cho, Naha-shi, Okinawa-ken