Following the Japanese Government’s New Initiatives, Japan's Capital and Largest City Also Hopes to Attract International Visitors by Promoting Sake (aka Nihonshu, Literally "Japanese Rice Wine")
As a new and official central government initiative in the 2017 fiscal year (April 1, 2017-March 31, 2018) the Japan Tourism Agency plans to promote “sake brewery tourism” for international tourists visiting Japan. While the agency will select model districts in various parts of the country, where planning a tour around sake breweries can be successfully undertaken, Tokyo is also interested in promoting tours and experiences at its nine sake breweries within the city limits.
Ozawa brewery, Tama region of Tokyo
Most sake breweries are traditional Japanese-style wooden buildings, where tourists can get informed about sake brewing and enjoy tasting various kinds of local Japanese rice wine. Japan’s central government hopes that sake breweries can be effectively used as tourist resources to revitalize local areas with tourism. The city of Tokyo also sees this as a way to draw tourists to less visited parts of the city.
The garden/picnic area outside Ozawa Brewery
At the nine Tokyo sake breweries or “sakagura,” the following tourism experiences are available:
Sakagura tours in Japanese, where English-speaking tourists can bring their own guide to accompany them. These include Koyama brewery, producer of Marushin-Masamune; Tamura brewery, producer of Kasen sake; Toshimaya brewery, producer of Kinkon sake; Nakamura brewery, producer of Chiyotsuru sake; and Ozawa brewery, producer of Sawanoi sake, which also has an English-language brochure and a distributor in the United States.
Sake brewery production process at Ozawa Brewery
On-premises shopping and tasting. The remaining breweries maintain branded sake shops selling their elixirs and some offer tastings but no tours. These include Nozaki brewery, producer of Kisho sake; Ozawa brewery, producer of Kuwanomiyako sake; and Noguchi brewery, producer of Kouzuru.
In addition to shops, where tourists can purchase the in-house made sake, some of these breweries also operate restaurants, where the sake is perfectly paired with fresh, local cuisine.
All of these breweries have been making sake in Tokyo since the Edo period, and they continue to score exceptionally well at national competitions recognizing superior quality of newly brewed and bottled batches.
According to a survey conducted by the Japan Tourism Agency in 2015, more than 40 percent of inbound tourists drank sake during their stay in Japan. It is hoped that not only will visitors enjoy their sake experiences in Tokyo, but that they will purchase a few bottles to bring home, and continue to buy Tokyo sake when they return home, thus boosting Tokyo sake exports internationally.
For more information on sake travel experiences in Tokyo, visit the specific link on Tokyo City Tourism’s website.