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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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)

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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!

SET PRO April report – The highlights

Written by Chris Hughes

SAKE SET PRO APRIL Stats

Themes: temperature, aroma & difference between sweet and dry.
Sakes tasted: 9

Greetings sake lovers!

On three Sundays in April, the tasting glasses were laid out again for another round of international exchange and sake study as we successfully held not 1, not 2, but the first ever trilogy of SAKE SET PRO.

The Story so Far….

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When I started putting together the Sake Exchange Tokyo concept back in November, I had three objectives in mind: international exchange, promotion of sake to a wider audience and of course, sake study — or to phrase it another way, shedding light on the charms of the beverage; the same charms that make you fall in love with it in the first place. To elaborate, I lovingly refer to the history, culture and traditions that sake is steeped in.

The event started off very successfully, but soon I reached a crossroads. I had originally started out targeting two separate demographics: people who want to taste sake and learn more about the beverage and people who attended for the exchange aspect. I thought it was possible to achieve both objectives, to satsify both these demographics in one format. However, I can say with hand on heart that I got this wrong.

You only had to look at the feedback from some participants to see that this was the case. Basically, people who wanted to focus on the study aspect of the event were at odds with the people who just wanted to taste sake and merrily partake in international exchange. Over time, the SET events gradually became more and more like exchange parties, strengthening this divide in the process.

And so, in March, I decided to reshape the events. The result was PRO and LITE. The main element of PRO was an extraction of the study aspect, the lecture from the original format; LITE was basically the original format but with a shorter lecture and no guided tasting. So, in other words, for those who just wanted the freedom to enjoy international exchange with a glass of sake in hand, there was LITE and for those who wanted a professional focused study session, i.e. a workshop, there was PRO.

I have to admit that in hindsight, PRO was a poor choice of word: it’s the sort of word that can conjure images of head scratchingly difficult academia — I think a lot of people were probably put off by this. As a result, I didn’t realise quite the attendance I had been hoping for. But the events went ahead nevertheless, and were a roaring success.

Here are a few of the comments from the people who attended this time around.
You can see from the comments that these events are just as suitable for beginners as they are for the more knowledgable sake buff.

April’s Feedback

If you are still in doubt as to whether this format is for you, please see some of the nice comments that we received from those who attended this month’s PRO events.

“The meet up was great! I didn’t have any knowledge about sake and I was nervous to go, but I’m glad I attended because the lecture was easy to understand and follow. I learned so much in short period of time.”

“Thank you so much Chris for organizing. I had a really great time. I love Japanese Sake, however, I noticed I had a lot of things about Sake I don’t know….I’d like to join again soon.”

“My first funtastic sake meet up was really great. I can imagine some people may have been intimidated by the description of the event and may have worried it would be to technical but Chris did a fantastic job explaining everything with anecdotes and easy to understand language; no overly technically jargon. It was very relaxed and Chris was incredibly knowledgable. Definitely consider going to the next PRO meeting. It is totally worth it.”

The Tastings (A Sample)

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Still not convinced?

Why not take a sneak preview at the tastings that we prepared for April’s events.

Each tasting is effectively a case study. A case study on sake focused around a particular aspect of the beverage.

April’s Case Studies Highlights Preview

Sakes Served at Different Temperatures
1. Kurabito Kurabu Hiire – A light, well-balanced sake from Kyoto made with the brewing rice Kyo no Kagayaki and Society Yeast No.1801
2. Mimurosugi 27BY – A sake made in the Bodaimoto style  
3. Mimurosugi 26BY –

Case Study Highlights

The first sake was served first at room temperature and then Nurukan. Nurukan is often referred to as a safe temperature for experimenting with. Sake will undergo a dramatic change every 10 or so degrees.

The second sake was served from chilled up to body temperature to show how temperature affects aroma.

The third sake — and now here is where it gets really interesting — was served first at room temperature — gradually increasing the temperature all the way to piping hot or Tobikiri. I had concluded beforehand that the aged properties of sake number 3 would allow it to hold its own in the heat, while releasing umami notes along the way. The result was a flavour transformation with hints of cereal notes on the finish. It tasted like a completely different sake. If you have ever wondered if there is any point to this heat setting, you have to try this combination!

Interested to try one of these case studies for yourself?

Why not come and join the next SET PRO?

Why do sake drinkers slurp!? Occupational habit? We asked the brewer

Have you ever witnessed people making weird slurping sounds when they drink sake? While this kind of behaviour might seem normal at sake tasting events, it could be considered unsightly or unsanitary in a casual drinking environment.

It makes you wonder if the brewers themselves ever succumb to this habit. Is this kind of thing purely for an audience, or do they do it in private too? We decided to go direct to the brewer for the answer.

Occupational Habit? Why Do We Make Noises When We Drink Sake in the First Place?

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Believe it or not, it is actually an established way of drinking sake. You open your mouth slightly to take in air as you drink and exhale through your nose, making slurping noises as you go. As for the noises? simply put, it helps you to taste the aromas of sake — in theory at least.

But what about the brewers? when they are not tasting sake in a professional capacity (if there ever is such a time) do they still practise this method?

How Does the Brewer Do It?

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Brewing; opportunities to taste lots of sake and its all part of the job. Could someone in such a professional capacity be guilty of the occasional slurp?

Do You Ever Make a Slurping Noise When You Drink Sake?pie_chart3

(A total of 17 breweries were surveyed.)

Yes 15 / No 2

So there you have it, 80% of the brewers we asked answered: “yes”.

In What Kind of Situations Will You Slurp?

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When asked to elaborate and tell us the sort of places that they would adopt this way of drinking, as much as 30% told us that they would only do so at professional tastings; it’s purpose is clearly more about gaining a deeper understanding of the sake than anything else.

That being said, in among those yes’s were plenty of no’s. Those brewers refrain from making such a noise when they drink because they worry how it looks to the general consumer. The same brewers were also keen to point out that it is not the only way to form a multifaceted opinion of sake: vibration, altering the temperature etc etc also have the same effect. The results of this survey tells us that brewers are always trying to think up new ways to gain a better understanding of what they drink.

What About When Not in a Professional Capacity?

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(A total of 17 brewers were surveyed.)

Yes 5 / No 12

The overall response to this question was completely different. Only 30% told us that they would make a slurpping noise when not in a professional capacity.  Some said that it was in respect for the other drinkers around them.  Either way, for most brewers it appears to be reserved for professional purposes.

“when we come across a new sake, we might slurp to unearth its secrets; this is particularly true for rival brewery’s sakes;  the curiosity is too much to resist” was the response from some of our more studious brewers.

Could it be that to slurp = to be an expert of sake?

So there you have it, when others are present, outside of a professional capacity, even brewers have their scrupples about such audible drinking practises. On the other hand, when presented with a new sake or a rival brewery’s sake, these scrupples appear to go straight out the window.

Just think the next time you see someone slurpping happily away on their sake in a corner of the bar, it could be a brewer plotting out their next delicious sake.

We won’t mind at all if you slurp at KURAND!

Come and slurp until your heart is content! We are waiting!

Do all these eccentric ways of drinking sake fly? We asked the brewer

Welcome to the first of a new series where we ask the brewer for their opinion on various different topics of the day.

First up is the current eccentricity of the way people are enjoying sake today.

You may not know it, you may not believe it, you may not entirely agree but we are said to be: “in the midst of a sake boom”. At least here in Japan, that’s what they’re calling it. A time when it’s not so much about whether you drink sake, but how you drink sake — with so many eccentric styles being recommended within the industry: drunk on the rocks, mixed with other beverages as a cocktail…. the modality has been well and truly diversified.

What do the breweries think of the current eccentric nature of the industry? And, when they get a moment to actually sit down and enjoy their painstakingly crafted sake, what floats their boat? To find the answers to these questions and more we decided that it was time to ask the breweries themselves for their opinion. We asked a number of brewers to fill in a short questionnaire, read on for the results.

Q1: At What Temperature Do You Drink Your Own Sake?

At what temperature do brewers drink their own sake? We tried to find out which of the three standard temperature ranges was the most popular among our brewers: was it room temperature (hiya)? refrigerated at 5-10 degrees? (reishu) or warm?

▼Related Article
‘Does the Idea That HIYA (Unheated) = JOUON (Room Temp) Still Hold Water?’

17 partner breweries were interviewed.

Hiya:12, Reishu:3, Kan: 2
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The results of the questionnaire speaks for itself. However, a lot of brewers told us that they would adjust their preference depending on the type of sake — and because a simple change in temperature can make such a difference, they would often divide their tastings by temperature for research purposes.

Q2: Do You Ever Structure the Way You Drink Sake Any Differently?

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17 partner breweries were interviewed.

Yes:13, No:4

Next we asked our brewers whether they enjoyed any other methods of drinking sake other than the accepted norm. One way of drinking that seems to be quite popular is to add a block of ice in the hot summer months. As you might expect, we witnessed a reluctancy to mix other products with their own brews.

Q3: What Kind of Things Will You Add To Sake?

On the other hand, while our brewers were in agreement that the idea that rich sakes and or sakes with higher alcohol are better served on the rocks, some of the answers to this question came as a bit of a surprise. For example, it’s not as far-fetched as you might think to “mix cloudy sake with a sweet soda to make it easier to palate”. In fact, some of our breweries said they would even recommend this to their customers.

Q4: Give An Example of An Eccentric Way of Drinking Sake

This is where we share with you some rather more eccentric ways of drinking sake straight from the brewers themselves. We heard a lot of cool ideas, a lot of which will already be quite well known to the regular sake drinker.

Maximum Palatability! Mix With Soda

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A number of brewers told us that they would mix with soda, or even coca cola because doing so increased the sakes palatability and made it taste more refreshing.

Japanese Imbiber’s Red Eye: Sake x Tomato Juice

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You will no doubt be familiar with the red eye, a cocktail of beer and tomato juice. But what you probably didn’t know is that it has an Asian cousin. Already very much on the menu at most cocktails bars this cocktail can also be made at home: simply mix tomato juice with sake to the ratio of 1:1.

Poured Over Vanilla Ice Cream For A Shocking Revelation

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Out of all the answers we received this one left the biggest impression on us. We are of course talking about pouring sake over ice cream. Apparently, the key to this arrangement is the body that the sake lends to the creaminess of the ice cream.

One For The Heavy Drinker!Sake x Shochu

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One combination that we were told: “brings out the aroma of sake” was the pairing of sake with shochu. it has to be said though that the high alcohol level puts this one squarely in a minority category.

For a Refreshing Beverage – Citrus Fruits x Sake

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When it comes to pairing fruit with sake, there was an unanimous recommendation of citrus fruits. Some brewers squeeze the acidity from fruits like lemon and grapefruit into sake to give it a more refreshing edge.

Deliciousness Guaranteed ! Fruit Liqueurs x Sake

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“Mixing plum wine with sake 1:1″… The blend of liqueurs and sake was also suggested. Some brewers told us that they like to mix sake with a fruit based liqueur. This will come as no surprise when you consider that most breweries have their own fruit liqueur side business.

You could try this for yourself at our sister branch SHUGAR MARKET or at our sake branches where we stock a good selection of different liqueurs and plum wines.

As You Were, Or With a Twist

So there you have it. We thought that the current sake industry was eccentric but it turns out that it is just catching up with the brewers themselves who are already very much in with the times.

Stay tuned for more ‘ask the brewer’ articles.

KURAND SAKE MARKET menu renewal! Feature Brewery Corner & new products – The whole tasting experience just got even better!

Our menu has had another makeover!!

This includes the addition of various new corners and new products so whether you’re a first time customer or new to KURAND, there is something worth making a visit for.

We can’t wait to tell you what has changed, so, without further ado!

Menu Renewal ! New Fridge Layout & New Corners

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In addition to the menu renewal, we have also completely revised the layout of the fridge.

Introducing the 11 Sections

Menu Renewal

1 MUST-TRY SAKES
2 DRAFT SAKE BARREL * Limited to Shinjuku Branch
3 KURAND LIMITED EDITION
4 BEGINNER
5 TASTING CORNER
6 TASTING CORNER
7 POPULAR REGULARS
8 DAILY SPECIAL
9 CLOUDY SAKE
10 SHUGAR LIQUEUR
11 SAKE FOR WARMING

The New Corners!

Must-Try Sakes Corner

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This is where you will find all the sakes that you would be crazy not to taste during your visit! We particularly recommend this corner for first-timers who are a little overwhelmed by the choice on offer.

Popular Regulars

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Here you will find some of KURAND SAKE MARKET’s most popular products – the non-movers in our sake ranking if you like. There are three levels to this corner, each showcasing a particular flavour profile: upper, middle and lower — Upper for sweet, middle for well-balanced and lower for dry. Go ahead and try and find something to suit your taste.

* The sweet/dry classification is meant to be used as a rough guide only

Monthly Recommended Brewery

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All four of our branches will showcase a different brewery in this corner every month — and from said brewery, there will be not one, not two, but six different sakes to taste. With a new brewery to try every month you are sure to discover something new and exciting. The 6 sake selection will from time to time include the odd limited edition sake… yep, you heard me right folks! limited edition.

Details of This Month’s Recommended Brewery Line-up can be found below.

Branch Link
Ikebukuro Ishii Brewery
Asakusa Hasegawa Brewery
Shibuya Takeno Brewery
Shinjuku Asahitsuru Brewery

Sake Tasting Corner

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Introducing a brand new corner: sake tasting corner. In this corner you can taste two versions of the same sake with only subtle differences to tell them apart. The sets that have been put together by the brewerys themselves especially for KURAND. For each sake there is a KURAND original version and the brewery’s signature version. Can you tell them apart?

The Front Row – Completely Original Products

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The Back Row – Brewery’s Signature Products

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Sake offers a variety of different comparisons: rice variety, yeast variety, method of storage, production method etc etc. Comparing sake this way is one of the many charms of the beverage. Just a tiny change in ingredient or production method can make a huge difference to the end product. Why not taste the different for youself and take yourself to an ever deeper level in the sake experience. We hope that our new corner will add an extra level of depth and enjoyment to your experience at our bars.

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The first theme is Pasteurised or Hiire vs Unpasteurised or Nama. That’s right! we are throwing you right in at the deep end and asking you to spot the subtle differences between sake that has been pastuerised with sake that has not. This is not something you can do every day.

Draft Sake Server * Limited to Shinjuku Branch Only

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The 4th branch comes equipped with an exclusive draft sake server — loaded with freshly brewed sake so that you can enjoy sake in its freshest form whenever you please!

Simply twist the tap and out sake pours! Pretty impressive right!?

New Entries

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I wonder, if you frequent the bars on a regular basis, if you have noticed that little by little the sake selection at KURAND has been changing. In actual fact, since our last renewal in December 2015, over half of the selection is different. We wouldn’t be satisfied with giving you the same old sake over and over again.

With this menu renewal comes a whole host of new entries.

What follows is a little taster.

Takeno Brewery, Kyoto – Kurand Kurabu

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Sweet and fruity with a crisp finish. A sake with is own unique umami (savoury goodness). The sort of sake that keeps you coming back for more. Perfectly suited to beginners and seasoned sake lovers alike.

Ichinomiya Brewery, Shimane Prefecture – Rika Junmai

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A little dry but with a refreshing palate. Perfect for food pairing because its flavour doesn’t get in the way of whatever you pair with it.

Kunpeki Brewery, Aichi Prefecture Gojokawa Sakura Tokubetsu Junmai Muroka Nama Genshu

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A little memento of the cherry blossom season that never was. Rich, fruity, fragrant. Brimming with floral notes — as you would expect — that compliment a gentle marshmallow flavoured palate full of umami.

Tamagawa Brewery, Niigata Prefecture – Echigo Ichie Junmai Ginjo Muroka Nama Genshu

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A sake purist’s dry from Niigata. Refreshingly simple with hints of nuts and herbs on the nose. Highly aromatic with cereal notes. Lots of umami, yummy – nuff said.

Share a toast with a brewer – April schedule

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This special event is designed to bring our customers and the breweries that we represent closer together. Every month, on a random basis, we invite representatives from the breweries to come to the bars and share a toast of their sake with everyone. As well as hearing the passion that goes into sake direct from the craftsman/woman, you can also try sakes that have been prepared exclusively for the event. It all adds up to an extremely special event, not the sort that you can experience everyday.

The Allure of Drinking Sake with the Brewer

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“Sake tastes all the more delicious when you drink it knowing who made it and why”.
This is the KURAND concept. To ‘Share a toast with a brewer!’ is to experience sake at the same level, to hear stories that normally don’t get heard outside the four walls of the brewery, and to ask questions. The keypoint is that even your average tasting event does not bring you this close.

For the brewers themselves, this event represents an opportunity to gather feedback about their sake, feedback that leads to quality improvement in the future. Feedback from the floor is extremely important.

CALENDAR

We have added the above calendar so that you can find out when and where the breweries are going to be, to enable you to plan ahead.

Introducing the Breweries Visiting in April

This where we introduce the breweries who have taken time out of their business trip to Tokyo to pop over to our 4 branches in Ikebukuro, Asakusa Shibuya and Shinjuku and spend time with everyone.

The event calendar shows you when and where the breweries will appear.

Asahitsuru (Chiba Prefecture)

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Asahitsuru is a family brewery in Chiba Prefecture’s Sakura City. The brewing is headed by female master brewer Tanaka Motoko. Situated just an hour from the capital, the brewery runs tours offering the chance to experience a classic brewing atmosphere surrounded by the Yasaka Shrine forests and the rural landscape of the River Kashima. The blessing of the four seasons, rice, and water from a sacred tree gives birth to fragrant beautiful sake that ferments the hearts of the brewer and the surrounding nature. The characteristic of rich dry sake is a sake that is robust with a clean aftertaste. They brew if only but to hear you say that their sake is delicious.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
22/4 (Fri) Shinjuku
23/4 (Sat) Shinjuku
30/4 (Sat) Shinjuku

Umeda Brewery (Hiroshima Prefecture)

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Established in 1916, Umeda Brewery is located in Hiroshima City’s Eastern quarter. They brew using special rice for brewing grown in Hiroshima, soft water from an underground river that originates in the mountains behind the brewery and ginjo yeast developed at Hiroshima Prefecture’s research institute. Based on the ethos that sake should be enjoyed by people who are not experts about sake, are not used to sake, their sake is smooth with a gorgeous aroma and mellow flavour.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
15/4 (FRI) Shinjuku

Miyoshikiku Brewery (Tokushima Prefecture)

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Tokushima Prefecture is where the pinnacle of sake rice Yamada Nishiki is grown. The brewery uses mainly this and other varieties of locally grown sake rice to make each and every bottle by hand. Sake with a fruity aroma and unfolding sweetness locked in by a wine-like acidity. The Miyosikiku Trinity continue to breed new sake fans.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
15/4 (Fri) Ikebukuro

Takizawa Brewery (Saitama Prefecture))

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Established in 1863, originally based in Kogawa Town, Saitama, but later moved to Fukaya City in 1900s to get better access to the location’s water and benefits. From the beginning, the focus has been on quality so they use only the traditional small box koji production method. The inner sanctum of sake brewing, the koji room, is made from Fukaya red brick, the same brick used in Tokyo Station. In a historical building, with a traditional production, in just the last few years, they have received high acclaim: national sake championships gold 4 years in a row, IWC gold medal two years in a row. A strong brewery in Saitama that cares about the future of sake.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
16/4 (Sat) Shinjuku
22/4 (Fri) Ikebukuro

Hasegawa Brewery (Niigata Prefecture)

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Established in 1842, Hasegawa Brewery has carved over 170 years of brewing in Settaya, in Niigata Prefecture’s Nagaoka City. Settaya is a charming town with a popular miso, sake and soy sauce production that dates as far back as the Edo Period, and counts 5 breweries that are registered as tangible cultural properties. As one of the breweries that were built in the Edo and Taisei Periods, they brew the sake by hand, in the traditional way using properly maintained antique tools and small Daiginjo purpose tanks to produce a savoury flavour that extracts the best from the rice. A sake that compliments food and brings the whole table to life.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
15/4 (Fri) Asakusa
22/4 (Fri) Asakusa

Takarayama Brewery (Niigata Prefecture)

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Takarayama Brewery is a small brewery that began life in 1885 as regional sake to Iwamuro Onsen,a well-known 300 year old inner parlour in Niigata. In the frozen lands of Echigo, with “harmony among people” as their motto, a team of three including the master cherish every single drop of the brewing process. In a little plot at the back of the brewery the staff grow the variety of sake rice that was developed in Niigata: Echigo Tanrei. From this year, master brewer Watanabe Keita who completed his training in a brewery outside the prefecture joins the team and takes over the reins from 78 year old master Mr. Aoyagi. A new wind is blowing at this brewery.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
22/4 (Fri) Shibuya
29/4 (Fri) Shinjuku
30/4 (Sat) Ikebukuro

Kanbai Brewery (Saitama Prefecture)

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Established in 1821, Kanbai Brewery is located almost dead centre of the Kanto plains in Kuki which is a good location for both water and rice. The brand name Kanbai comes from the line in a famous Chinese poem: “the bloom of winter just before spring”. The owner of the brewer has now taken over the role of master brewer as well and focuses all his attention on a small production that it is as attentive as possible and leaves nothing to chance. With the ethos “to provide delicious and fun moments” he strives for sake brewing with personality that attacks the task head on with sincerity.

Visit Schedule

Date Branch
15/4 (Fri) Shibuya
16/4 (Sat) Asakusa
29/4 (Fri) Ikebukuro

April Schedule (in date order)

Visit Schedule

Date Branch Brewery Name (Prefecture)
15/4 (Fri) Shinjuku Umeda (Hiroshima)
15/4 (Fri) Ikebukuro Miyoshikiku (Tokushima)
15/4 (Fri) Asakusa Hasegawa (Niigata)
15/4 (Fri) Shibuya Kanbai (Saitama)
16/4 (Sat) Shinjuku Takizawa (Saitama)
16/4 (Sat) Asakusa Kanbai (Saitama)
22/4 (Fri) Shinjuku Asahitsuru (Chiba)
22/4 (Fri) Ikebukuro Takizawa (Saitama)
22/4 (Fri) Asakusa Hasegawa (Niigata)
22/4 (Fri) Shibuya Takarayama (Niigata)
23/4 (Sat) Shinjuku Asahitsuru (Chiba)
29/4 (Fri) Ikebukuro Kanbai (Saitama)
29/4 (Fri) Shinjuku Takarayama (Niigata)
30/4 (Sat) Shinjuku Asahitsuru (Chiba)
30/4 (Sat) Ikebukuro Takarayama (Niigata)

Tricky Japanese sake terms – How many do you know?

Greetings Sake Lovers!

I don’t know about you, but all those tricky Japanese sake terms can take quite a bit of remembering. How many do you already know? Why not test yourself? Are you up for the challenge?

Right then, thinking caps on, eyes down and prepare yourself for today’s sake quiz.

Just How Many Sake Terms Can You Correctly Identify?

The answers can be found at the end (scroll down to the bottom) Let’s start!

Basic Level

1. 杜氏 Toji

杜氏写真

A. Master Brewer.
B. Rice Farmer.
C. Rice Steamer.

2. 貴醸酒 Kijoshu

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A. Sake made with added sugar.
B. Sake made with alcohol instead of water.
C. A type of vintage sake.

3. 生一本 Kiipon

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A. A Junmai brewed in a single manufacturing location.
B. A Junmai brewed in small volumes.
C. A Junmai which has not been pasteurised.

4. 麹 Koji

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A. A healthy batch of yeast.
B. Another word for the yeast starter.
C. Rice inoculated with a mould that turns the starch into sugar.

5. 上槽 Joso

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A. The process that separates the solids from the liquids.
B. The process that grows a healthy yeast.
C. The process that pasteurises the sake.

Intermediate

6. 生酛 Kimoto

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A. An old fashioned, super labor-intensive, natural yeast starter process.
B. An old fashioned pressing technique.
C. An old fashioned steaming technique.

7. Nigorizake 濁酒

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A. Sake which is perfect for warming.
B. Unpasteurised sake.
C. Sake with some of the solids left in to give it a cloudy appearance.

8. 製麹 Seigiku

麹づくりの様子 (1) (コピー)

A. The process of making the malt.
B. The process of propagating a healthy yeast.
C. The process of steaming the rice.

9. 老ね香 Hineka

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A. Off flavour of aged sake.
B. A super fruity aroma.
C. Another word for the acidity of sake.

10. 滓 Ori

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A. Left over rice particles that are normally filtered out.
B. The microorganism that turns the starch into glucose.
C. The process that pasteurises the sake.

Advanced

11. 暖気樽 Dakitaru

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A. Apparatus used to steam sake.
B. Apparatus used to heat up the yeast starter.
C. Apparatus used to carry the rice to the koji room.

12. 櫂 Kaiire

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A. The process of stirring the mash with a long wooden oar.
B. The process of steaming the rice.
C. The process of heating the yeast starter.

13. Haze

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A. The quality of the rice.
B. The way that the mould that turns the starch into sugar propogates
C. A type of rice polishing.

14. 醪 Moromi

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A. The Japanese word for the mash.
B. The Japanese word for the malt.
C. The Japanese word for the yeast starter.

15. 甑 Koshiki

大甑の蒸し (コピー)

A. The vat used to steam the rice.
B. An old type of sake barrel.
C. An old type of fermentation tank.

Answers

1. A
2. B
3. A
4. C
5. A
6. A
7. C
8. A
9. A
10. A
11. B
12. A
13. B
14. A
15. A


How did you do?
Did you get a full score?

More quizes coming soon!

The Creamy Flavour will Hook You! — A Simple Recipe Using Sake Lees: Spicy Avocado Pasta!

In this article we bring you a simple recipe to make a healthy pasta dish using sake lees.

First of all, what are sake lees?

Sake lees or cake, are the leftover solids from a pressing of sake. In sake production there is zero waste. Every bi-product of the process, including the lees, is either sold on or recycled in some way or another. In the case of lees, they have many uses: one of the most popular being as a cooking ingredient. Lees can be purchased either directly from the brewery or at specialist sake shops.

A creamy recipe that anyone can make in the time it takes to boil a saucepan of pasta and without a single knob of butter or slice of cheese in sight.

Ingredients(Serves 2)

Avocado 1
Onion 1/4
Milk(You can use soya milk) 200cc
Sake Lees(paste) 1 large Tbsp
White Miso 1 large spoonful
Grated Garlic 1 Clove
Sesame Oil 2 Large Tbsps
Bonito Stock Granules 1 Tsp
Curry Powder 1/4 Tsp
Green Spring Onion Shoots according to preference
Shredded Seaweed according to preference

Method

1. Take about a spoonful of the pasta cooking water and mix with the miso and lees.
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2. Fry the garlic in the oil on a medium heat until pungent.
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3. Cut the avocado into cubes and slice the onion. Add to the garlic and continue to cook on a medium heat.
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POINT

Add the ingredients one by one to stop them losing their shape: Once the onion turns translucent, add the avocado.

4. Add more of the pasta cooking water and emulsify.
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POINT

5. Add the milk and stock and bring to the boil.
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6. Add the cooked pasta and mix into the sauce on a high heat. Add a sprinkling of the curry powder.
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POINT
Add the pasta about one minute before the stipulated cooking time on the packet for an al dente finish.

7. Serve up and top with the grated green onion and seaweed.
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This dish is simply delish! whether you are a fan of sake and the lees or not.

Bonus Content

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A Pasta and Sake Marriage That You Can Enjoy at KURAND SAKE MARKET

Tamagawa Brewery, Cloudy Sake: Shumon no Yuki

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Funasaka Brewery, Miyamakiku Gloopy Cloudy Sake

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At KURAND SAKE MARKET, we don’t just allow you to bring your own food, we encourage it!

Why not try this recipe at home!

A Great Way to Get Into Sake: Sake Based Fruit Liqueurs

On 18th February, the sister operation of KURAND SAKE MARKET, SHUGAR MARKET finally opened its doors for business. It is a bar where you can compare over approximately 100 different types of fruit liqueurs and plum wines sourced from all over the country, at your own leisure, without any time limits.

In today’s article we explain the concept in more detail and the message that we wish to convey through the bars.

Liqueurs – Another String to the Brewer’s Bow

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A lot sake breweries also produce plum wines and liqueurs. Generally speaking, sake is made during the winter months, between November and March, when it is coldest (this is referred to as cold climate brewing). So even though there is no sake brewing going on during the summer, a lot of breweries fill the gap with other products. KURAND’s partner breweries are no different.

For example, Kazuma Brewery who we featured in a recent article make a plum wine called Noto Plum Wine. This is a plum wine made with plums from the Noto Peninsula soaked in a base of sake made with rice and water, also from Noto. The gorgeous deep aroma and flavour of the plums makes you forget that fact though.

We simply thought that if we could spread the charms of plum wine and liqueurs, we would be doing a service not just for our partner breweries but sake breweries across the entire country. And thus, we set up SHUGAR.

Of course some shochu makers also include liqueurs and plum wine in their line-up; At SHUGAR MARKET we have got this covered too.

A Belief That This Will Give New Value to Sake

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One of the original fruit-based liqueurs available for you to try at SHUGAR MARKET is a product designed together with one of our partner sake breweries in Nara Prefecture, Kitaoka Honten.

By using the latest cold press technology we have trapped the deliciousness and that feeling of bliss that you get from fresh fruit and infused it into a base of Junmai sake. Far too many fruit-based liqueurs are made with shochu; this SHUGAR original product bucks that trend.

Our mission is: “to give new value to sake”. Through the fusion of sake and fruit, we can create a liqueur made with a base of sake that is even woman and young person friendly. This, we believe, adds new value.

Through Sake, We Want to Promote Regional Flavours

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Just as we pointed out in this article, each and every bottle of sake comes with a narrative. Furthermore we believe that sake is a product of agriculture, an expression of the region where it is made. That is what makes a jizake (regional sake) a jizake.

This is no different for liqueurs and plum wines. Whether it be plums grown in Ishikawa Prefecture, Nanko plums grown in Wakayama Prefecture; a plum wine made with plums grown in Saga Prefecture; lemons grown in Hiroshima Prefecture, apples grown in Iwate Prefecture; or a fruit liqueur made from clementines grown in Wakayama Prefecture; by turning each and every one of these edible gems into a form of alcohol, we are able to package and deliver their charms in a different box.

Just like the sakes that we feature at KURAND, there are a whole load of delicious plum wines and liqueurs out there just waiting to be discovered. We opened SHUGAR MARKET with the conviction that if we make that discovery fun, people will also discover all that’s great about the regions that make them.

The products might have changed but the message hasn’t. And that is why we have set up a little SHUGAR corner in KURAND SAKE MARKET. Meaning that visitors to KURAND can also enjoy a little taster of the originality that SHUGAR has to offer. Why not try deviating from sake in between flights on your next visit and sample some delicious SHUGAR liqueurs.

TIP: Yoghurt liqueur + Lemon liqueur = cheesecake flavour
Yoghurt liqueur + coffee liqueur = a luxurious caffe latte flavour

A bookings page for SHUGAR market is under construction and will be made public very soon.

Our Shinjuku Branch Finally Opens Its Doors – We Take a Peek in Side

Attention !! all sake lovers out there!!

KURAND SAKE MARKET, a sake drinker’s heaven where you can taste over 100 different types of sake without time limits for just 3240 yen has now opened a branch in Shinjuku!

It joins Ikebukuro, Asakusa and Shibuya as the fourth location.

What is KURAND SAKE MARKET?

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The bars operate a super straight forward self-serve style. First you pay the entrance fee and choose a cup. Then you simply make your way over to the fridge, choose whatever takes your fancy from the 100 or so varieties on offer and pour away at your leisure. You can ask staff who are steeped in sake knowledge for their recommendations and engage in lively conversation about sake with the other customers.

It is free to bring your own food, and you can nip out to buy more at any time during the proceedings. If that wasn’t enough, you can also exchange your cup for another type any time you like.

How to Get to the Shinuku Branch

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The bar’s location couldn’t be any more convenient: it is located in a building right next door to Shinjuku Sanchome underground Station. Take exit C6 and the building is on your left directly after you get outside. A great location I think you will agree.

On rainy days, if you use the elevator to exit, you can get into the building without getting wet. After all, sake tasting is nowhere near as much fun when you are soaked to the bone.

Why not follow us upstairs to the 4th Floor to take a closer look!

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There it is! the good ol’ KURAND logo. It marks out the entrance to the Shinjuku Watasei Building.

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How to Enjoy

Once you have paid the 3240 yen entrance fee, you can select your choice of tasting cup. There are quite a few types to choose from. You might be wondering if it matters which type you choose… Absolutely! the flavour and aroma of sake is greatly influenced by the shape, aperture and material of the cup you drink it out of. See this article for more details

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You will get this funky glow in the dark stamp and be shown to your table.

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The sake are lined up in the fridges, ready and waiting. Let the tasting commence!

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The Appeal of the 4th Branch

The 4th branch comes equipped with an exclusive draft sake server — loaded with freshly brewed sake so that you can enjoy sake in its freshest form whenever you please!

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Sake stored in this way is much less likely to oxidise than if it was stored in a 1.8L bottle. It is so fresh it’s like drinking sake from the brewer’s tank directly!

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Twist the tap and …….

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The fact that you can pour sake from a tap instead of a bottle will no doubt come as a bit of a surprise. Ahhh, this reminds me of my primary school days when I use to wonder: “if only our school tap could give us orange juice”. The whole experience certainly stirred an emotion or two in me.

Where to go in Shinjuku For Your Nibbles

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The bar’s flexible reentry policy means that if at any time you get a bit peckish, you can simply pop out and pick up some nibbles — A good job then that the Shinjuku branch is very conveniently located near lots of grocery stores selling all kinds of delicious produce.

First of all there is the Food Section of
Isetan Shinjuku and if you don’t mind venturing a little further away, there is the Odakyu department store — each offering a rich selection of tasty morsels. The latter is a good option if you are travelling to the venue by the Odakyu line, in which case you can simply pick up some supplies on the way.

A lot of customers make stuff at home and bring it to share with friends, and if there are leftovers, everyone!

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Well, that about wraps up this short guided tour of the new branch.
The branch is available to take bookings via the below link.

What are you waiting for!? Head on over.

On behalf of the staff at the branch, I look forward to welcoming you real soon!

Branch Name KURAND SAKE MARKET SHINJUKU
Address 4F Shinjuku Watasei Tama Building, 3-9-9 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo, 160-0022
Tel 03-6457-7544
Opening Hours Weekdays: 17:00-23:00(L.O.22:00)Weekends Lunch: 12:00-16:00 (L.O.15:00) Evennings 17:00-23:00(L.O.22:00)
Closed Days Open every day, all year round
Capacity 60 people
HP KURAND SAKE MARKET SHINJUKU