Breweries you can visit on the outskirts of Tokyo

Greetings Sake Lovers!

Here in Tokyo, today marks the first day of a ‘long-overdue’ vacation period called Golden Week. In a country that, on average, enjoys less than 9 days off a year, this really is golden time — and for most people the only opportunity to get out and travel. According to the ‘Japan Times’, this year, a record 23.9 million people are expected to do just that. wherever you go this week there will be crowds. If it seems like an obviously fun way to spend Golden Week, someone will already have thought of it. So, is there really nowhere you can go to avoid the crowds? The short answer: The sake brewery.

The Appeal of the Brewery Visit — More Than Just Seeing How Sake is Made

When you hear the word brewery tour, what do you imagine? The opportunity to see different parts of the brewing process up close while weaving in and out between large tanks? a tasting of many different sakes? these are of course some of the many charms of the experience, but there is so much more to enjoy. The fact is that every brewery offers something different. We have put together a little guide of breweries located just a train ride or two from Tokyo, along with a summary of other things you can see / do near or in the brewery grounds.

Breweries in the Tokyo Vicinity

The first 2 breweries are located in the same area, so it is possible to group them into one trip.

Ishikawa Brewery (Tokyo, Fussa City)

isikawa
Ishikawa Brewery is located just an hour’s train ride away from Tokyo Station, on the outskirts of Tokyo, in Fusa City. The brewery’s signature brand is Taman Jiman. The brewery offers study tours, but advanced booking is required by phone or via the website. Although the tours are possible throughout Golden Week, they are extremely popular, so early booking is extremely recommended.

There is plenty to see at this brewery with or without the study tour: from the 100-year old building where the sake is made and the newer brewing facility — to the beer brewery which offers you a glimpse of Meiji Period beer brewing; in the centre of the premises there is a 400 year old Zelkova or Keyaki tree — the source of the brewery’s brewing water — and a relic from when the brewery first got into beer-brewing in 1887 in the form of the original brew kettle.

And if that is not enough, there are various museums. For when you feel a bit peckish, there is a soba (buckwheat) noodle restaurant, a beer restaurant / garden. There is also a little store for you to pick up a bottle of sake or beer or a souvenir or two before heading home. It is basically a miniature beer and sake theme park! You could easily spend half-a-day to a day here.

Study Tour Details

Booking Method Tel: 042-553-0100

Booking Hours: Weekdays: 10:00 – 17:00

Price Free
Min / Max Participants Min 1 person for Tour
Time / Duration 3 Times a Day / 1 Hour
Address 1 Kumagawa, Fussa City, Tokyo
Access Take the orange line (JR CHUO) bound for Haijima. Depending on the train, you may have to change at Tachikawa Stn onto the Oume Line. From the exit of Haijima, take a taxi (5 mins) to the brewery. It is 15 minutes on foot from station to brewery.
URL http://www.tamajiman.com/index.htm

Tamura Brewery (Tokyo, Fussa City)

tamura
The brewery’s signature brand is Kasen. The brewery’s opening hours during Golden Week are 30th April, 3rd May, 6th May and 7th May.

The highlights of a visit to this brewery have got to be the incredibly well-kept beautiful Japanese gardens, a 400 year old Zelkova or Keyaki tree — an energy point that is said to radiate mystical forces that people come from far and wide to touch — and the brewery buildings which have been granted the status of tangible cultural property by the Japanese government.

You can also view the brewery’s water source as it flows beneath the brewery grounds: the Tamagawa Aqueduct, a water supply that has been around since the Edo Period. The tour gives you the opportunity to get a closer look at the history and culture that this brewery is steeped in.

At the end of the tour, the brewery prepares a tasting of two completely different sakes for you to enjoy. The tour caters for bigger groups than some of the other breweries, so it is less of a personal experience, but still fun nevertheless.

Study Tour Details

Booking Method Via the form on the brewery’s homepage or by phone. TEL:042-551-0003 (Booking Hours: 8:00 – 17:00 Scheduled Closing Days: Sun / Public Holidays / Mondays
Price FREE
Min / Max Participants Minimum 10 People (it is possible to join another group’s tour)
Time / Duration 3 times a day / 1 Hour
Address 1 Kumagawa, Fussa City, Tokyo
Access 10 Mins from Fussa Station
URL http://www.seishu-kasen.com/

Nakamura Brewery (Tokyo, Akiruno City)

nakamura
The signature brand is Chiyotsuru. There is also a sake brewing library that you can visit. This brewery’s Golden Week opening hours are 30th April, 2nd May, 6th May, 7th May. Advanced booking is required. Experience a brewery protecting over 200 years of brewing history and tradition.

Study Tour Details

Booking Method TEL:042-558-0516
Price FREE
Min / Max Participants No limitations
Duration 1 Hour
Address 63 Akiruno City, Tokyo
Access By Train: 11 min on foot from Akigawa Stn (Itsukaichi Line)
URL  http://www.chiyotsuru.jp/

Ozawa Brewery (Tokyo, Oume City)

sawanoi

At the entrance to Sawanoi sake theme park, Sawanosuke the bunny welcomes you!

The signature brand is Sawanoi. Ozawa Brewery boasts yet another miniature sake theme park at the entrance to a popular hiking spot on the outskirts of Tokyo. In among the natural, idyllic surroundings there are a number of other tourist spots you can visit such as the Kanzashi (Japanese comb) art gallery and a number of little shrines and restaurants. Why not sit in the garden and enjoy a Manju (rice cake) made from sake kasu or some pickled wasabi while admiring the scenery.

The brewery also sells fresh Nama sake which you can bottle yourself direct from the tank in a pay-and-weigh style. There is so much to do here that you will struggle to cram it all into a day. For those who want to sample all the sake that this brewery has to offer there is a very reasonably priced sake tasting with around 10 different types to try; their selection of plum wines comes particularly highly recommended.

There is also a tour, but like the other breweries you have to book in advance. The tour normally includes a mini sake lecture.

Again early booking is recommended.

During Golden Week this is one of the breweries that might already be on most people’s to-visit-list.

BONUS: For some reason or other, Oume City has a museum dedicated to the manga writer who penned the Bakabon comics, Akatsuka Fujio. There is also a statue of one of the characters in the train station. According to Wikipedia, the city has absolutely no direct affiliation with the deceased artist or any of his relatives.

Study Tour Details

Booking Method TEL: 0428-78-8210 or via their homepage (by phone only for more than 10 people)
Prie Free
Max/min number of participants 1-10 people
Time Approx 45 mins
Location 2-770 Sawai, Oume City, Tokyo
Access 4 min walk from Sawai Station (Oume line)
When you book you need to prepare the following information: Date, preferred time slot (11am / 1pm / 2pm / 3pm), name, contact number, number of people, method of transport
URL http://www.sawanoi-sake.com/
Kanzashi Museum
Akatsuka Fujio Museum

Bukou Brewery (Saitama, Chichibu City)

bukou

Located in Chichibu City, Saitama, about 2 hours from Tokyo. This brewery produces not only sake, but liqueurs, plum wine shochu and even Jam. They are open during Golden Week. The train journey to the nearest station Seibu Chichibu alone is worth the trip.

Study Tour Details

How to Book Tel:0494-22-0046
Price FREE
Min / Max Participants Min 10 Persons
Time 40 Mins
Address 21-27 MiyakawaCho, Chichibu City, Saitama, 368-0046
Access By train: 15 mins on foot from Seibu Chichibu Stn.
From Shinjuku San Cho Me or Ikebukuro: On the Fukutoshin Line, there is a train that takes you right through to Hanno City where you can change onto the Seibu Chichibu Line. All other options require one or more changes. From Ikebukuro, sometimes there is a service called the Red Arrow that takes you straight to the end destination without any changes; this service costs a little more though.
URL http://www.bukou.co.jp/index.htm

Summary

There are many, many more breweries offering fantastic tours — a bit further away — which we hope to introduce in future articles.

Well, what are you waiting for !? It’s time to embark on your first brewery tour!

KURAND SAKE MARKET will soon start running its own sake brewery tours… watch this space!