Not a lot of tourists are aware of the fact that Kobe is home to the top-producing sake region in Japan. With over 40 breweries spread out around Nada, or Higashinada Ward to be precise, a sake tour is definitely on the cards during a visit to this bustling city. Not all breweries are open to the public and some are now museums rather than production facilities, but at those which are accessible to the public, you can learn about their history, their production methods, and best of all try out a wide variety of Nihonshu. Here are some of the best sake breweries to check out in Kobe.
Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery Museum
With Nada being the top sake-producing region in Japan, Kiku-Masamune Brewery has been consistently earning the status of No. 1 overall sake both among Tokyo and Osaka liquor stores from 1984 to 2011. Their pride and joy is their dry sake, which they have focused on all throughout their history. The highlight at the museum is the old sake brewery equipment which is considered “important tangible folk cultural property”, equipment that not only survived the passage of time but also the massive destruction of the Great Hanshin Earthquake. After taking all the history in, head over to the tasting area and witness for yourself what the fuss is all about.
Sakuramasamune Sakuraen Museum
Due to the Great Hanshin Earthquake, not much of the original sake brewery remains here and thus the exhibits are quite small. Thanks to a video though, visitors get a glimpse of what life inside the brewery used to be like. As you walk around the exhibition space, the vintage bottles on display are a nice touch but even nicer is the sake tasting set available for free. After trying out the Daiginjo, the Junmai Ginjo, and Junmai Genshu, it will be hard to resist not buying their colorful bottles. An in-house restaurant offering traditional Japanese dishes is the perfect place to put the sake to the real test.
Hamafukutsuru Ginjo Brewery
Hamafukutsuru is another one of the award-winning breweries in the area and as the name implies, it is recognized for its Ginjo sake. Here you can actually have a look at part of the production process from the second-floor exhibition room. And although you cannot enter the brewing area there’s an interactive showcase where with the push of a button you can smell the sake being brewed. If you visit in winter, you might even get a peek at the action inside the Koji production room where malted rice is produced.
Shushinkan is famous for its Fukuju sake which they have been brewing in Kobe for over 260 years using a type of water called Miyamizu. Here you will get one of the most complete sake experiences in Nada and depending on your preferences you can get access to informative videos, a tour of the fermentation area, the usual tasting, a sake shop, and a Japanese restaurant where the Fukuju is paired with the finest of ingredients. Certain activities require a prior reservation so make sure to check their website before your visit.
Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum
Hakutsuru (white crane) has been around since the mid-1700s and all throughout its history has been producing high-quality Dai Ginjo sake among other delicacies. The company turned their old brewhouse into a museum which is now open to travelers who can learn about its history and production methods through life-size exhibits showcased around the former production facility. At the end of the exhibition, visitors can turn into brewers themselves and grab a memorable photo in traditional uniforms.