The best way to spend time with your family or friends while discovering a different face of Japan, away from Tokyo’s crowd and totally stress-free.
Here is a list of beautiful and interesting Japanese sake breweries for the passionate ones or even the ones who just want to have fun discovering something new. The breweries we have collected are the most ancient and famous ones and they are near Tokyo neighborhoods. This makes them perfect for a one-day trip in the countryside, so just pick one and enjoy the best artisan sake while reconnecting with nature in a beautiful, traditional garden!
Some of the breweries are free to enter, some provide some free sake tasting experience, some developed so much their business to offer guided tours of the breweries and other historical buildings. Each of them has a lot of interesting stories to share, so have a good trip!
1. Sawanoi Ozawa Brewery (澤乃井小澤酒造)
Located in Ome city, in the western part of Tokyo, it takes one hour and a half to reach Sawanoi Brewery by public transportation, through JR trains. With its 300 and more years of history it earned the title of the oldest brewery in Tokyo region, and as the years went by it seems to have become more and more popular among both the tourists and the locals. Sawanoi Brewery offers free guided tours (Japanese only) where you can deepen your understanding of the sake making process, a beautiful garden where you can drink best quality sake and relax in nature, and two museums that show clothing and Japanese style painting collections. Ideal for a one-day trip to discover a quiet but still popular side of Japan!
Address: 2-770 Sawai, Ome‐City, Tokyo
2. Toshimaya Shuzo (豊島屋酒造)
Toshiyama Brewery owner, Takaharu Tanaka, shares with his staff the desire to become even more expert in sake making by studying the effects of sake fermentation and using this technique to create better flavors. Their objective is to make even the ones who don’t like alcohol passionate about traditional Japanese sake. To achieve this objective the brewery opens its doors to visitors with guided tours to show every step in the sake brewing process, and they also organize events and workshops for families with children. Remember to check out their facebook page for coming events announcements. It takes less than an hour to reach Toshimaya Shuzo by train from Shinjuku, and this makes the location perfect for a short family trip.
Address: 3-14-10 Higashi Murayama-shi Kumegawa, Tokyo
Website: http://www.toshimayasyuzou.co.jp/ (Japanese only)
3. Ishikawa Brewery (石川酒造）
Ishikawa Brewery managed to maintain his historical buildings throughout the years from the 19th century, and now the architecture view is included in their guided tours, available also in English and French. Ishikawa Brewery staff also state that their products are made with natural ingredients only, to preserve its original flavors from Edo period. Particularly famous is their Tamajiman Sake, traditionally brewed from the first opening of the brewery and made with carefully selected ingredients. It definitely seems worth a trip of an hour by train to try his traditional, complex taste.
Address: 1 Kumagawa Fussa-shi, Tokyo
Price: free entrance
4. Tamura Brewery (田村酒造場)
With its 200 years of sake making history, Tamura Brewery earns the title of one of the oldest breweries in Tokyo region, easy to reach by JR train in about an hour from Shinjuku Station. The founder (Kanjiro Tamura)’s motto is “work with respect, serve with respect,” and they proudly use water of the best quality to make their sake (it’s called Chichibu Okutama water). They also offer free guided tours that need to be booked in advance.
Tamura brewery’s most popular sake is the “maboroshi no sake” (sake of the illusion), that unites a good price with a great harmony of taste and smell. At least Its deliciousness won’t be an illusion!
Address: 626 Fussa-cho, Tokyo
Price: free entrance
Website: http://www.seishu-kasen.com/ (Japanese only)
5. Nakamura Brewery (中村酒造)
Nakamura Brewery’s most famous Sake, called Chiyotsuru, is proudly distilled from Edo period using the purer source of water in the area: they take the water from 170 m deep on the near river, where you can also fish ayu fish. At that depth, the water is of curse pure and more healthier, and the quality of the Nakamura Brewery make them able to participate in a lot of different sake contests every year, with very good results. The brewery is located near central Tokyo, reachable by public transports in about an hour from Tokyo. You can visit their sake brewing museum from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.
Address: 63 Ushinuma Akiruno-shi, Tokyo
Website: https://www.chiyotsuru.jp/ (Japanese only)
6. Matsuoka Brewery (松岡醸造)
Gold winner sake brewery of Saitama prefecture, Matsuoka Brewery has a lot of history to share in sake making, and so they organize guided tours almost every day and offer sake testing and other interesting information about sake brewery. During the tours, which are free but require a reservation, the staff will explain you the difference and the features of a large variety of sake types, and you’ll have the opportunity to taste even non-alcoholic products such as the Daiginjo ice cream, made with carefully selected ingredients. As it is located in a different prefecture, it takes a little bit more to reach Matsuoka Brewery by train from central Tokyo (about 1.5 hours from Shinjuku Station).
Address: 7-2 Shimofurutera Ogawa-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama
Price: free entrance
7. Yokota Shuzo (横田酒造)
Founded in late 1805, Yokota Shuzo’s first-generation owner, Yokota Shoemon, found his way in life making the best sake using natural ingredients, bounding with the earth where he was born and sharing the charming points of sake tradition. Today, Yokota Brewery offers several guided tours to explain Yokota’s history more in detail and to explore the processes of sake distillation and fermentation, but only on weekdays. Along the way, a little tasting service makes everything more interesting! Yokota Shuzo too is located in Saitama prefecture, so it takes about two hours to reach it by train and bus from Shinjuku Station.
Address: 2 Chome-29-3 Sakuracho Gyoda-shi, Saitama Prefecture
Website: http://yokota-shuzou.co.jp/ (Japanese only)
8. Kankiku Brewery (寒菊銘醸)
Kankinu Brewery sake making purpose is to help people connect with each other satisfying their souls. To reach this objective they craft special beer using sake’s umami making technique and, as all their staff is dedicated to the customers and passionate about their work, they live in harmony with local culture and they ager to share it with others. Guided tours are available all year around but the process of sake making is limited in November to March. It can be reached by train and taxi through the JR Sobu line from Shinjuku Station.
Address: 11 Matsuomachi Takenosato Sanmu-shi, Chiba Prefecture
Price: free (reservation required)
9. Shichiken Brewery (七賢醸造)
Thanks to the Hakushu water they largely use in sake making, Shichiken Brewery offers unique sake flavors that you can find only there. The brewery holds various guided tours too, one of this is the sake warehouses tour that, even though it requires a reservation, is free. The other one is the Kitahara family inner parlor guided tour, that shows the traces of an imperial visit to the family and shares with the customers the quarters where the Meiji Emperor decided to stay in Yamanashi prefecture. As the importance of the inner parlor surpasses the warehouse, this second tour requires a ¥ 200 fee. As the brewery is located in Yamanashi prefecture, it may take more than 2.5 hour to reach by JR train from Shinjuku Station.
Address: 2283 Hakushucho Daigahara Hokuto-shi, Yamanashi
Price: free / ¥200
10. Bukou Brewery (武甲酒造)
Bukou Brewery is located in the Chichibu Region of Saitama Prefecture, where it is famous for its water quality. Bukou Brewery has 260 years of history. They don't distribute their sake in Tokyo very much, so it would be a great opportunity to visit this brewery to taste their signature Bukou Masamune sake. They accept visitors every day throughout the year, basically, and we get a chance to see inside the brewery.
Address: 21-27 Miyakawa-cho, Chichibu, Saitama
Website: http://www.bukou.co.jp/ (Japanese Only)
All information in this article is as of November 2017
Thumbnail image is from Flickr