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Learning about sake by visiting a brewery


If you are interested in learning more about sake, why not visit a working brewery? Many breweries are happy to accommodate visitor tours.


Naturally, just turning up on the doorstep without an appointment can cause inconvenience. Contact the brewery by phone or email beforehand to make arrangements.


Depending on the brewery, there may be certain fixed times when visitor tours are welcomed, or there may be a minimum size for tour groups, such as “five people or more.” It’s wise to check on any restrictions ahead of your visit.


An important point to remember when visiting a sake brewery is that nattō (fermented soybeans) should not be eaten on the day of the visit or the day before. Nattō contains bacteria that are very strong and have an adverse effect on the kōji and kōbo used in sake brewing, with the result that the flavor of the sake is inferior. Be sure not to visit a brewery after eating nattō.


Visiting a brewery
There is a big difference between simply drinking the sake after buying a bottle, and drinking sake after having toured a brewery. There are many discoveries to be made. What sort of building is it? What sorts of practices are adhered to? Who brews the sake?


Here are some of the things to look for when you visit.


• What is the building itself like?
• What sort of person is the tōji (chief brewer)?
• Is the brewery oriented to hands-on production, or is it more mechanized?
• What kind of rice is used?
• What are the specifics of their method of kōji production?
• Where do they source their water?
• What kōbo (yeast starter culture) do they use?


It is best to visit a brewery after having first learned the basics of sake brewing. When specialized terms come up, you won’t be totally lost, and you will be able to ask more pointed questions. You will get much more out of your visit.


If you understand the content of this website, you should have no problem visiting a brewery. At the least, it’s a good idea to read about the sake brewing process.


Try drinking the brewery’s sake together with food prepared in the local style
Another thing to do when visiting a brewery is to try eating local food together with the sake produced at the brewery. By and large, breweries make their sake to be in tune with the type of food eaten in the locality, so a meal prepared in the local tradition is likely to be very compatible with the local brew.


If the brewery is located near the sea, try drinking their sake together with seafood. If it’s up in the mountains, enjoy the sake with a meal prepared from local ingredients. If there is an onsen (hot spring) nearby, sipping the local sake while soaking in the spring would be a delightful indulgence.


Drinking sake while dining on local food after having learned what sort of brewery makes the sake is a way of deeply appreciating the flavor of the brew.



Depending on the brewery, the places visitors are permitted to go may be restricted. At some breweries, you are not only allowed to see the entire brewery, but you can also try your hand at some of the processes of making sake. On the other hand, at other breweries, visitors are only shown around the outside.


Because microorganisms play such a vital role in making sake, cleanliness is very important. There may be rules such as the one mentioned above, that people who have eaten nattō are not be permitted to enter a brewery, and it is wise to check ahead of time by contacting the brewery by phone or email.

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