Japan has absolutely exploded as a food and dining destination, but how is it as a sake destination? Sure there’s more than enough incredible sake to go around, but will you be able to find it? Are there specific regions or locations scattered across Japan that are accessible and offer the kinds of unique sake experiences and discoveries that make it worth the trip? What can we expect from “sake tourism” in the (hopefully) near future?
This week’s show is actually from a rather early recording that we did while still in our “R&D phase”. We weren’t sure if it would see the light of day, but giving it another listen, we thought there was info here that could be useful to our listeners, as well as hopefully be something that people could come back to and reference when planning or considering a visit to Japan that integrated sake discoveries.
This is a topic that we’ll be exploring again, both more thoroughly, as well as from a few other angles. That’s why we’ve labeled it “Part 1”. Part 2 doesn’t exist yet, but it will someday! Until then, we hope you’ll find some helpful tidbits tucked away in the discussion.
Also, we wanted to keep some fun content flowing post-holiday while we snuck away for a bit of rest, family time and celebration. We’ve got lots of exciting material coming very soon!
Because this episode was recorded a while back, some of the “news” that we discuss is, as you might have guessed, a bit outdated. That being said, we think it’s still interesting and relevant stuff, so we decided to leave it in there. And hey, if you hadn’t heard about it yet, then it’s news to you!
Topics, places and sake discussed this week (with links) include:
– Saijo region in Hiroshima, home to Kamotsuru, as well as 8 other breweries, is the Daigon Alley of the sake world. It also happens to be home to Japan’s largest annual sake festival, more-or-less the equivalent of a sake Oktoberfest.
– The Takayama region (Gifu Prefecture) is popping up on a lot of itineraries as of late. Funasaka Shuzo is a highlight. Heading deeper into the countryside of Hida to explore the satoyama is a great way to visit some more great breweries.
– A short shinkansen trip to Uonuma no Sato is the home of Hakkaisan. More than enough great food and product, as well as tours and tastings to fill an entire day. New beer brewery on-site as well. A beautiful area at the foot of Mt. Hakkaisan.
– Asahi Shuzo, producers of Kubota, are accessible from Nagaoka (Niigata Prefecture) and working to develop the area as a sake and cultural destination.
– Noto Peninsula (Ishikawa Prefecture) is a beautiful, still a largely hidden secret and a culinary a foodie’s dreamland. The town of Wajima has 5 breweries all within walking distance, as well as some amazing urushi lacquerware. The amazing Sogen Sake Brewery has some neat tricks up its sleeve for visitors and those looking to invest a bit of time into their sake.
– The Tone Numata region near Minakami in Gunma (also known as a great outdoors and adventure tourism destination) is home to a couple craft beer breweries, a winery, some great food, and several excellent sake breweries, including Nagai Shuzo, makers of Mizubasho (and leaders of the Awa Sake Association), Tsuchida Shuzo, who recently went entirely junmai and yamahai production, has tours and tasting room, and the small craft sake makers at Otone Shuzo.
Have any great sake destinations in Japan or overseas that you’d like to share? Any advice, ideas or experiences you think our listeners would appreciate hearing about? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see if we can integrate those into a future episode!
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