Ah, one of the staples of Japanese drinking culture: Sake! If you haven’t come across Sake before, fret not! By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll be well-versed in the various types of Sake and the myriad sake breweries in Japan!

What is Japanese Sake?

Sake Breweries in Japan What is Japanese Sake 1

So, what is Sake? Japanese Sake, also known as Nihonshu (日本酒), is a unique type of alcohol native to Japan. Its primary ingredients include rice, rice malt, and water. Sake is believed to have originated in the Jomon – Yayoi period, boasting a long and rich history.

Sake Breweries in Japan What is Japanese Sake 2

The alcohol content of Sake can vary, typically averaging around the 15% mark, making it quite potent yet light enough to savour at a leisurely pace. Some brands may reach up to 20%, but according to the Liquor Tax law, for Sake classification, the alcohol content must not exceed 22%.

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How do you drink it? Different Sakes can be enjoyed in different ways. It’s common for certain types of sake to be slightly heated (known as Atsukan 熱燗), while others are best served chilled or over ice.

Now that you’ve got the basics of Sake sorted, let’s delve into the sake breweries in Japan that you can visit and enjoy!

Must-Go Sake Breweries in Japan

Asahi Sake Brewery [Niigata]

Sake Breweries in Japan Asahi Sake Brewery
Credit: Travel to Tohoku

Founded in 1830, Asahi Shuzo has been a running brewery for nearly 200 years. They pride themselves on the use of water from underground veins and delicious rice. The brewery tour at Asahi includes a 60-minute tour of the production process, which can only happen in certain seasons.

However, there is also a 20-minute tour that is held year-round. On this tour, you will visit three different storage buildings: the Momiji, Hotaru, and Inaho warehouses, as well as receive an overview of the sake brewing process and history. They also offer an online brewery tour in case you are unable to visit the brewery itself.

Address: 880-1 Asahi, Nagaoka-shi, Niigata 949-5494

Opening times: Guide time – 1. 11:00 2. 12:00 3. 13:00 4. 14:00

Contact: TEL – 0258-41-3777

Cost: Free

Buko Shuzo Sake Brewery [Saitama]

Sake Breweries in Japan Buko Shuzo Sake Brewery
Credit: Buko Shuzo

Buko Shuzo Sake Brewery is based in Chichibu City, where it is said to be the perfect place for Sake brewing due to the good quality of water. This brewery is set in a beautiful natural environment with a history that spans more than 260 years.

They offer a short tour option where you are able to see into production rooms and observe the sake-making processes.

Address: 21-27 Miyagi-cho, Chichibu-shi, Saitama 368-0046

Opening times: 8:00 – 17:30, Open on Sundays

Contact: TEL – 0494220046

Cost: ¥1000〜 ¥1999

Ozawa Sake Brewery Sawanoi [Tokyo]

Sake Breweries in Japan Ozawa Sake Brewery Sawanoi
Credit: Ozawa Brewery

If you find yourself in Tokyo, an interesting Sake brewery to visit is the Ozawa Sake Brewery Sawanoi. In this brewery, sake is made from water that springs up from a cave that is dug up from the bedrock. Throughout the tour, you are able to see into the well of the brewery and the warehouse in which the sake is made. At the end of your tour, this brewery also allows you to try their Kiki sake.

Address: 2-770 Sawai, Ome-shi, Tokyo

Opening times: General tours are available 4 times a day (11:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00)

Contact: TEL – 0428-78-8215

Cost: Free

Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum [Kyoto]

Sake Breweries in Japan Laurel Crown Okura Memorial Hall
Credit: 663highland

Located in Fushimi, Kyoto, this brewery is based in one of the leading sake places in all of Japan. The brewery was built in 1906 to produce Daiginjo-class sake using old-fashioned tools such as koshiki and koji lids. In the brewery tour, you are able to see how the molomi is fermented using the original methods. If you time your tour right, you may also witness the rice preparation and steaming.

Address: 247 Minamihamacho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, 612-8660

Opening times: 9:30AM – 4:30PM

Contact: 075-623-2056

Cost: Over 20 years old ¥600 (tax included), 13 years old ~ 19 years old: ¥100 (tax included), 12 years old and under: Free ※ If you are 13 years old or older, souvenir is included

Takasago Sake Brewery [Hokkaido]

Sake Breweries in Japan Takasago Sake Brewery

The Takasago Sake Brewery is located in an area rich in its water source. The sake produced here is known for its storage process, which uses long-term low-temperature aging deep in snow that has fallen. Even without refrigeration, over the cold nights in Hokkaido, the temperatures fall well below freezing, allowing this sake to turn crisp and fresh. In the tour, you will become familiar with the sake brewery process and are able to see the storage areas up close!

Address: 17 Miyashita-dori, Asahikawa-shi, Hokkaido 070-0030,

Opening times: Tour starts at 10:00 or 15:00

Contact: TEL – 0166-23-2251

Cost: Please check official website.

Toshimaya Sake Brewery [Tokyo]

Sake Breweries in Japan Toshimaya Sake Brewery
Credit: Toshimaya Sake Brewery

Here is a unique one. Toshimaya Sake Brewery provides a tour set at night! Toshimaya is the oldest sake store in Tokyo having opened in 1596. It is well known for its sake called Shirozake, which is a sweet rice liqueur and has been cited in many novels and traditional Japanese plays. During the evening sake brewery tour, you are able to listen to the sound of sake fermenting and taste 4-6 kinds of sake. They also hold events and workshops!

Address: 189-0003 Tokyo, Higashimurayama, Kumegawacho, 3 Chome−14−10

Opening times: 9AM – 5PM, Weekends 1PM – 5PM

Contact: 042-391-0601

Cost: [Day] ¥999] – [Night] ¥999

Suehiro Sake Brewery [Fukushima]

Sake Breweries in Japan Suehiro Sake Brewery

Founded in 1850, this sake brewery opened up during the Edo period. For 150 years, this brewery has been making high-quality sake, and it is said that the brewery resembles an environment that feels as if you have stepped back in time to the Edo period.

Interestingly, the area in which the tanks that are used to brew the sake are cooled using circulated underground water. Even during the hotter summer periods, it can feel quite chilly on this tour, so it is recommended to wear something warm even in the summer. During the tour, you will be introduced to the history of sake brewing while being able to see different types of sake rice.

Address: 12-38 Nisshinmachi, Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima 965-0861

Opening times: 10AM – 3PM, Closed Wednesday

Contact: TEL – 0242-27-0002

Cost: Free

Become a Sake Connoisseur: Explore Japan’s Finest Breweries!

Sake Breweries in Japan Final Thoughts

So there we have it! Hopefully, now you are feeling like a sake master, with all the knowledge of the best sake breweries and the sake brewing process of Japan. Each of these breweries offers a slightly different experience, so see how many you can visit on your travels!