Sake lovers should know! Charm of Sakagura (Sake Breweries) and 23 Recommended Sake Breweries in Kansai
8 Feb 2023
If you like sake, you must try a sake brewery tour at least once.
While enjoying local sake from various regions, visitors can also tour sake breweries and experience sake brewing, so a tour of sake breweries is sure to make you fall in love with sake even more.
This article introduces the charm of sake breweries and the unique sake breweries in Kansai for those who want to know more about sake breweries.
Table of Contents
1. "Sakagura (Sake Breweries)" - Places to Learn about the Culture of Sake
2. “Kansai" is actually the largest producer of sake in Japan
3. Sake Comparison at Distinctive Sake Breweries! 23 Sake Breweries in Kansai
- (1) Enjoy the traditional taste of sake made by historical sake breweries! Two Sake Breweries in Fukui
- (2) Enjoy Sake as well as Gourmet Food! Two Sake Breweries in Mie
- (3) Sake Breweries around Lake Biwa! Two sake breweries in Shiga
- (4) Not Just Fushimi! Three recommended sake breweries in Kyoto, where you can also find sake breweries of major manufacturers
- (5) Two sake breweries in Osaka, the kitchen of the nation, where sake also gathers
- (6) No. 1 in production volume! Four Sake Breweries in Hyogo, one of the major sake[-producing regions in Japan
- (7) Strong commitment across generations produces delicious sake! Two Sake Breweries in Nara
- (8) Two Wakayama sake breweries using local specialties
- (9) Sake to go with the local delicacies! Two sake breweries in Tottori
- (10) Two sake breweries in Tokushima that continue to preserve history and tradition
1. "Sakagura (Sake Brewery)", a place to learn about the culture of sake
A brewery that brews and stores a variety of alcoholic beverages is called a "Sakagura".
However, places that brew and store beer are called beer breweries or breweries, and in the case of shochu, shochu breweries, while "Sakagura" often refers to a brewery that brews and stores only sake.
Sake breweries not only wholesale sake to suppliers, but also great tourist spots for sake lovers that offer them the opportunity to buy sake directly from the brewery at their sales outlets, tour the brewery, taste the sake, and experience the brewing process.
2. “Kansai" is actually the largest producer of sake in Japan
Kansai is said to be the birthplace of sake.
Although Niigata, Akita, and other prefectures in the Tohoku region are famous for sake, Kansai actually ranks first in sake production.
Prefectures in Kansai ranked first and second in sake production in the year 2016, with Hyogo Prefecture in first place and Kyoto Prefecture in second *
The major sake breweries Gekkeikan, Hakutsuru, and Kikumasamune are also located in Kansai. In addition, other unique sake breweries are also located in the Kansai region, including traditional sake breweries rooted in the region and breweries that produce sake that is in tune with the times.
3. Sake Comparison at Distinctive Sake Breweries! 23 Sake Breweries in Kansai
If you are a sake lover, why not try a sake brewery tour in Kansai, the largest producer of sake in Japan?
By comparing sake breweries' carefully selected sake and learning about the culture of sake, you will come to love sake even more.
(1) Enjoy the traditional taste of sake made by historical sake breweries! Two Sake Breweries in Fukui
From here, we will carefully select and introduce recommended sake breweries in each prefecture.
First, let's start with sake breweries in Fukui, located in the central part of Honshu facing the Sea of Japan.
Fukui's sake is characterized by its clean taste and richness, produced from rice nurtured by the pure water of the Kuzuryu and Hino Rivers flowing into the Sea of Japan.
Here are two sake breweries that you should not miss when touring sake breweries in Fukui.
“Kubota Brewery" featuring aromatic sake made with high-quality underground water
Kubota Brewery is a historical sake brewery that has been in business since the Edo period.
Its representative brand, "Fukukoma," is known as Fukui Prefecture's representative sake.
Sake made from the high-quality underground water that springs on the premises is characterized by its fragrance.
As a media outlet introducing Japan travel, we'd like to share the following information. You can visit sake breweries all year round, but from November to February, you'll be able to enjoy the experience even more as this is when sake production takes place.
Matured old sake can be tasted at “Nambu Sake Brewery”
When it comes to sake, you may have the image that "Shinshu (newly brewed sake)" made in the same year is the most delicious.
Recently, however, "Jukusei koshu (matured old sake)" that has been aged for a long time, has been attracting attention.
Nambu Sake Brewery is a sake brewery that is also involved in the production of matured old sake, which is drawing attention.
Nanbu Sake Brewery has been brewing sake for about 120 years, and by aging sake made using traditional methods, they are able to produce sake with an unprecedented taste.
If you want to taste a rare "matured old sake" please visit "Nambu Sake Brewery”.
(2) Enjoy Sake as well as Gourmet Food! Two Sake Breweries in Mie
In Mie, famous for the Ise Jingu Shrine, sake brewing began about 2,000 years ago.
Blessed with abundant foodstuffs such as Ise lobsters and Matsuzaka beef, Mie is the histrical land of gourmet foods, and was once called "Miketsukuni" that supplied food stuffs to the Imperial Court.
Mie, which is also a gourmet country, has produced many famous sake breweries.
When you visit Mie, enjoy not only gourmet food but also sake.
The only place in Ise where you can drink fresh sake! “Iseman Naiku Mae Japanese Sake Factory”
Iseman Naiku Mae Japanese Sake Factory is the only sake brewery in Ise where you can drink locally brewed sake.
On the first day of each month, "Tsuitachi shibori," freshly squeezed early in the morning, is available for sale, allowing visitors to enjoy the freshness and fruity taste of freshly squeezed sake.
The tasting also allows visitors to experience drinking "Shiboritate namagenshu," which can only be tasted at the brewery. Tasting the freshest sake is a treat that only a sake brewery can offer.
“Ota Sake Brewery”, one of Japan's leading sake breweries that has continued to use the same production methods for over 120 years.
Located in the center of the Iga Basin, the Ota Sake Brewery has been making sake since 1892.
The brewery has maintained its traditional methods for more than 120 years, including the Kioke jikomi (preparation using wooden barrels for brewing sake) and using water from the brewery's own well, in addition to its commitment to the use of sake rice.
During the cold season, when the surrounding mountains are covered with snow, the brewer stays overnight at the brewery to thoroughly control the temperature of the sake mash, day and night.
The sake is carefully brewed in small batches and fermented at low temperatures to produce a gorgeous, mellow taste befitting the main brand name "Hanzo".
Not only does it consistently win top awards at new sake competitions in the prefecture, but "Junmai Daiginjo Hanzo" also won the highest honor of being poured into the sake cups of the leaders as a toast at the working dinner of the "G7 Ise-Shima Summit 2016".
It is one of Japan's leading sake breweries in both name and reality.
(3) Sake Breweries around Lake Biwa! Two sake breweries in Shiga
There are about 40 sake breweries around Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, making Shiga a perfect place for a sake brewery tour.
Surrounded by mountains, the area around Lake Biwa is also rich in rice cultivation, and blessed with good water and rice, many delicious sake products are made here.
Let us introduce you to some sake breweries in Shiga where you can enjoy such local sake.
“Kawashima Shuzo Brewery" - Pursuing authentic taste since its establishment
Kawashima Shuzo Brewery, located on the western shore of Lake Biwa, is famous for its famous sake "Matsunohana".
The sake is made from high quality rice produced by local farmers and water from their own well, which was selected as one of the "100 best waters" in the Heisei era.
Come visit this sake brewery that has been pursuing authentic taste since its establishment in 1865.
“Kuramoto Fujii Honke Sake Brewery”, a prestigious sake brewery that also offers sake to the imperial court.
"Kuramoto Fujii Honke" is a prestigious sake brewery that offers sacred sake for "Niinamesai," a court ceremony that has been held since ancient times.
The brewery offers a wide range of sake, from rare sake such as "Wataribune," which is made from a very rare rice, to standard sake, so you are sure to find the sake of your choice when you visit "Kuramoto Fujii Honke".
A guided tour of the brewery takes visitors inside the Taisho-era sake brewery, which has been designated a Tangible Cultural Property of Japan.
(4) Not Just Fushimi! Two recommended sake breweries in Kyoto, where you can also find sake breweries of major manufacturers
Kyoto is one of the top producers of sake in Japan.
In Kyoto, "Fushimi" is famous as one of the major sake-producing regions in Japan along with Nada in Hyogo, but numerous sake breweries are scattered throughout the region outside of Fushimi.
We have carefully selected three sake breweries in Kyoto that you should visit in addition to Fushimi's sake breweries.
“Hakurei Brewing”, which offers not only tastings and tours but also a sake brewing experience.
Hakurei Brewing has been in business since 1832 in a land surrounded by the sea and mountains.
Their sake is characterized by its clean and refreshing taste.
It is made with a magical water that is super soft but can make sake sweet and also dry, and a traditional brewing method that has been used since the establishment of the company.
At Hakurei Brewing, visitors can not only taste sake and tour the brewery, but also try their hand at sake brewing.
“Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum”, a famous sake brewery known to all sake lovers
Gekkeikan is so famous that no one who drinks sake in Japan is unaware of it.
The Gekkeikan brewery is located in Fushimi, which is famous as one of the best sake-producing regions in Japan along with Nada in Hyogo Prefecture.
If you visit the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, be sure to take the tour.
You can learn more about Gekkeikan and sake culture by viewing the museum, which exhibits materials on the history of Gekkeikan and tools handed down from the Edo period, and by enjoying sake tasting.
(5) Two sake breweries in Osaka, the kitchen of the nation, where sake also gathers
Osaka has long been known as the "kitchen of the nation," where a wide variety of foodstuffs are gathered.
Even today, there are many local delicacies, and many tourists visit Osaka to enjoy the delicious food.
Osaka, such a gourmet city, is also home to many sake breweries, so why not take a tour of sake breweries as a "Drinking tour" instead of "Eating tour"?
Featuring sake that goes well with more than just Japanese food! “Daimon Brewery”
Founded in 1826, the Daimon Brewery continues to brew sake that is rich, dry, and complements food.
Their sake is made to go well not only with Japanese food but also with dishes from around the world, making it a perfect souvenir.
The brewery also offers various ways to enjoy sake, such as sake brewery tours that include sake tasting, private tours that include sake tasting and seasonal dishes, and events where you can enjoy sake and food while listening to live music. So if you have the right timing, be proactive to participate.
"Naniwa Sake Brewery" is characterized by the high-quality taste that comes from its commitment to handmade products.
Naniwa Sake Brewery is well known for the flavor produced by its handmade sake brewing process.
The brewery has won the gold medal many times in the National New Sake Competition and is highly acclaimed by experts.
Their brewery tour offers a rare opportunity to see the process of making sake by hand.
The sake brewery, designated as a Registered Tangible Cultural Property of Japan, also features the Naruko House on its premises, which is another designated cultural property. Visitors are welcome to explore both during their visit.
Why not enjoy the Taisho-romantic building along with sake?
(6) No. 1 in production volume! Four Sake Breweries in Hyogo, one of the major sake-producing regions in Japan
Hyogo ranks first in Japan in the production of sake and the rice used to make sake.
Hyogo's large production naturally attracts a large number of sake breweries.
From unique sake breweries with strong regional roots to major sake breweries, a wide variety of sake can be enjoyed.
“Konotomo Sake Brewery”, a sake brewery that continues to receive high praise from experts
Konotomo Sake Brewery continues to make sake that goes well with local cuisine, using local water and rice.
The brewery has won the gold medal at the National New Sake Competition for nine consecutive years and the Excellence Prize at the Osaka Regional Taxation Bureau's Warmed Sake Awards for 15 consecutive years, and is highly regarded by experts.
It can be enjoyed not only by those who are serious sake enthusiasts, but also by those who have just started drinking sake.
“Sennenichi Shuzo”, a sake brewery that focuses on all Awaji Island products
Sennenichi Shuzo is one of only two sake breweries on Awaji Island.
It is a sake brewery that uses Awaji Island-grown water and rice, and is committed to "All Awaji Island.
Visitors can enjoy free tastings of sake produced on Awaji Island in an atmosphere that evokes a sense of history.
Sake made with Awaji Island ingredients makes a perfect souvenir.
“Tsubosaka Sake Brewery" featuring the original taste of Japanese sake
Tsubosaka Sake Brewery has been brewing sake since the Edo period.
Their sake is characterized by a soft, creamy taste that emphasizes the taste of rice.
The original flavor of sake is brought out through careful processes such as the preparation of yeast for natural fermentation and the "Fukuro Shibori" process, which takes a long time to squeeze out the sake.
“Sakura-Masamune”, a long-established sake brewery in Japan's most famous sake-producing region
Sakura-Masamune is a sake brewery located in Nada, which is said to be one of the major sake-producing regions in Japan along with Fushimi.
It is also the first sake brewery to name its sake "Masamune," a brand name for which there are said to be as many as a hundred in Japan.
Visitors can not only tour the brewery, where they can see traditional sake brewing tools, but also experience the unique At the memorial hall "Sakuraen," there is more to see than just traditional sake-making tools, which is made with sake in the soup.
(7) Strong commitment across generations produces delicious sake! Two Sake Breweries in Nara
It is said that in Heijo-kyo, the capital of Nara during the Nara period (710-794), sake was already being made for Shinto rituals.
Nara, with its long history of sake brewing, has many sake breweries that are very particular about their sake, and you are sure to find sake that conveys the thoughts of the brewers.
“Kita Shuzo”, a sake brewery with a commitment to excellence that has lasted for more than 300 years
Kita Shuzo was founded in 1718 and has continued to brew sake with the utmost care.
The founder, Kita Rihei, was a stickler by nature and did not launch his business until he was completely satisfied.
His persistence and will were passed down from generation to generation, and even now, more than 300 years later, the company continues to focus on "delicious sake".
Kita Shuzo's definition of good sake is "Sake that conveys the brewer's spirit to the consumer's heart.
Why not visit the Kita Brewery to taste the delicious sake so that you can feel the commitment that has continued for 300 years?
“Nara-Toyosawashuzou”, a must visit for lovers of junmai-shu
Since its establishment, Nara-Toyosawashuzou has been committed to handmade sake.
The brewery places special emphasis on junmai-shu, and 80% of the sake produced at Nara-Toyosawashuzou is "Tokutei-meishoshu" (special designation sake type), which is Junmai-shu or higher.
If you like junmai-shu, this is the brewery to visit.
(8) Two Wakayama sake breweries using local specialties
Wakayama also has many traditional sake breweries that are rooted in the local community, and a wide variety of sake can be enjoyed.
Another feature of Wakayama is that there are sake breweries where you can enjoy umeshu (plum wine) made from the delicious plums of Wakayama.
If you like not only sake but also plum wine, you should visit some of the sake breweries in Wakayama.
“Heiwa Shuzo" continues to introduce a new sake culture
Heiwa Shuzo, a brewery founded in 1928, is known for its popular sake "Kid".
Sake brewed with high-quality subsoil water from Mt. Koya has a smooth and excellent crisp flavor.
They are also working on "Heiwa Saketen" a store and bar in the "KINO Wakayama" commercial facility in front of Nankai Wakayamashi Station, the gateway to Wakayama, and opened “Heiwa Doburoku Brewery Kabutocho”, a brewery pub in Tokyo where you can enjoy freshly made Doburoku.
Heiwa Shuzo have established a new base for sake culture as well as sake brewing, and are continuing to cultivate the joys and pleasures of life with sake.
"Nakano BC", a unique Wakayama sake brewery where you can enjoy plum wine along with sake
Nakano BC is famous not only for its sake, but also for its umeshu (plum wine).
Using plums, a specialty of Wakayama, the plum wine is slowly matured and is characterized by its smoky and astringent taste, which is like the flavor of plums added to whisky.
Why not taste not only sake, but also plum wine born and raised in Wakayama?
(9) Sake to go with the local delicacies! Two sake breweries in Tottori
Tottori is a region where sake is brewed to suit the local climate and cuisine.
Tottori's sake has evolved to match the local cuisine and is characterized by a refreshing taste with a deep, rich flavor.
Let's visit a sake breweries to compare sake unique to Tottori.
“Chiyomusubi Sake Brewery”, where you can enjoy sake in a variety of experiences
Located not far from the popular tourist spots "Mizuki Shigeru Road" and "Yokai Shrine," Chiyomusubi Sake Brewery is an easy stopover during your sightseeing.
The sake brewery is engaged in various activities such as holding events to determine the most popular sake by voting, and changing the rice used to make sake each month.
In addition to sake brewery tours and tastings, visitors can also experience bottling sake with their own hands.
"Inata Honten", where you can taste local sake and new sake
"Inata Honten" is a sake brewery located in Yonago, the center of Tottori.
They continue to try new challenges while preserving the local sake culture.
In 1931, Inata Honten launched "cold sake," which was not available anywhere else, and also produced a ginjo-shu using Tottori's native sake rice, "Goriki".
It is a sake brewery that makes you think that you will discover something new when you visit "Inada Honten.
(10) Two sake breweries in Tokushima that continue to preserve history and tradition
Tokushima has many local sake breweries nurtured by its rich nature.
Let's visit sake breweries in Tokushima, which produce a variety of sake with sweet, dry, rich, and light flavors.
Even sake beginners can enjoy sake to the fullest! ”Honke Matsuura Brewery”
The Honke Matsuura Brewery has its roots in the Matsuura party, which was active as a naval force in the 1200s.
The brewery, run by a family with a long history, also exhibits historically valuable items, allowing visitors to learn not only about sake but also about the history of Japan.
Of course, the long history is not the only attraction of the "Honke Matsuura Brewery.
Junmai-shu, which is easy to drink even for those who do not drink sake very often, and liqueurs made from Tokushima fruits such as yuzu, sudachi citrus, green mandarin orange, and plum are also part of the attraction.
This is a sake brewery that you can enjoy even if you visit with a partner who has never drunk much sake.
“Saito Brewery" has been brewing sake that can play an excellent supporting role for meals
Saito Brewery is located in Tokushima City, Tokushima Prefecture.
Here, sake is brewed using the subsoil water of the Akui River, a tributary stream of the Yoshino River, a first-class river.
This medium to slightly sweet sake is easy to drink and has a refreshing taste that takes full advantage of the soft water of the Akui River.
Characterized by its soft mouthfeel, it is an excellent sake that can be paired with Japanese cuisine as well as Western-style menus.
In addition to its regular products, the brewery is also focusing on developing unique products such as "Kuromitsu Liqueur" based on Awa Wasanbon sugar, a specialty of Tokushima Prefecture, and "Junmai Koshu," a sake aged for a long time.
Today, as in the past, the brewery is still striving to create sake that is an indispensable supporting role for meals.
In this article, we have introduced the charm of sake breweries that brew and store sake and the sake breweries in Kansai that you should definitely visit.
If you are a sake lover, why not try a sake brewery tour in Kansai, where many unique sake breweries are located?