Introduction of “Japanese Sake”
Nowadays, the word of “Sake” which means Japanese sake, is being popular in the world. In the Edo era, 1603-1868, People referred to Sake as “Crazy water”. Currently young people call it “Pon-shu”. Ordinary matured drink Sake more than young people.
Sake made of fermenting rice which has been polished to remove bran. Pure water and yeast are added to the highly polished rice. The quality of sake is determined by rice’s grade and the duration of polishing.
Junmai-shu < Junmai-ginjo-shu < Junmai-daiginjo-shu
Ginjo-shu < Daiginjo-shu
The higher rank, the tastier and the more expensive.
Variety of sake
Sake has a lot of different types from its brewing. The below is the basic introduction of variety of sake. Please not that in Japanese words such as “zake” and “shu” also refer to sake.
Nama-zake: this sake has not been pasteurized. It requires refrigerated storage and has a shorter shelf-life than pasteurized sake.
Nigori-zake: this is called “cloudy sake”. Usually, sake is made by passing through a loose mesh to sieve it from the mash. However, this sake is not filtered and there is much rice sediment in the bottle. Before serving, the bottle is shaken to mix the sediment and turn the sake into white and cloudy.
Sei-shu: “clear/clean sake” This is the Japanese legal definition of sake and refers to sake in which the sediments have been strained out, leaving clear liquid.
Sparkling-sake: This sake recently is getting more popular in Japan. This is literary sake with gas. However this sake is low alcohol percent, almost 5%, and sweeter than general sake. Women and sake beginner tend to drink this one.
How to drink sake?
Japanese enjoy drinking sake both hot and cold.
Hot sake is called “Atsukan(熱燗)”.
Cold sake is called “Reishu(冷酒)”.
Even if you drink exactly the same sake, the taste really differs when it is hot or cold.
Furthermore, Japanese also enjoy sake at normal temperature.
Japanese sake is enjoyable not only with its taste but also the difference of temperature of sake.
Sake Brewery in Tokyo
here comes the introduction of sake breweries in this article!
There are several breweries in Tokyo where you can visit easily and experience process of brewing sake tour. The below tours are conducted in English.
Now, growing number of foreign sake lovers are visiting breweries to observe brewing process and enjoy tasting, or just to experience the atmosphere of a traditional storehouse brewery with a history back to the Meiji Era or the Edo era.
This is the only one brewery existing in downtown Tokyo. The founder Shinshichi Koyama discovered spring water which perfectly suits for sake brewing back in the Meiji era.
Fee: min 5 to 10 persons /500yen per person
More than 11 persons /300yen per person
Address: 26-10 Iwabuchi machi Kita-ku, Tokyo
Access: 20min walking from JR Akabane station
Ozawa Shuzo is located in mountainous Ome area in western Tokyo. A couple of nearby restaurants offer visitors “Sawanoi” sake lineup which are brewed by this Ozawa Shuzo. In its neighborhood, there is also a sake-tasting spot that offers 10 varieties of sake for 200 to 500 yen per cup. Visitors can keep the sake cups as souvenirs. This brewery is surrounded by nature, and visitors enjoy hiking in the region.
Persons: Min 1 person / Max 10 persons
Address: 2-770 Sawai Ome city, Tokyo
Access: 4min walking from JR Sawai station
The Ishikawa family has been living in the western Tokyo area now known as Fussa since around 1600. They began making sake in 1863. Visitors to the brewery can visit five traditional storehouses, “kura” in Japanese, built in the 19th century as well as observe an old gate, establish about 230 years ago. Both have been designated as tangible cultural properties.
Reserve: call only
Persons: Min 3 persons/ Max 30 persons
Address: 1 Kumakawa Fussa city, Tokyo
Access: 15min walking JR or Seibu line Haijima station
Recommended Tokyo sake bars
- KURAND SAKE MARKET
This bar offers over 100 kinds of sake from all around Japan. It was established by an unique financing scheme crowdsourcing for the first time in Japan for helping sake breweries in country sides.
This place accommodates only 40 persons per night. Open time is from 17:00 to 23:00. You have to reserve in advance on the website. Only minimum appetizer are served in this place, so you are allowed to bring foods for free.
Address: 4th floor S&K building 3-27-3 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Fee: 3,000yen for all you can drink
Opening hours: 17:00~23:00
- SAKE HALL HIBIYA BAR
This bar is specialized first in cocktail of sake in the world. Seven sake breweries from various places in Japan corporated to establish this bar. It offers new taste of Japanes sake.
Address: B1F Miyuki building 5-6-12 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours: 17:00~23:00
- AMANOGAWA in KEIO PLAZA HOTEL
This bar offers only sakes strictly selected by hotel sommelier a long with selected foods best matched with those sakes. You will enjoy first class atmosphere and service at this bar.
Also, this bar is located in a luxury hotel, but this place cost less than you might expect it because sakes are offered in reasonable price.
Address: 2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours: 17:00~22:00
- Nurukan Sato
This bar is taking care of temperature of sake. Over 120 bottles of sake line up in a front of counter, which attracts a lot of customers. Moreover, you can enjoy not only country side dishes but also Japanese traditional banquet dishes. Bar offers only 90cc glasses for one order of sake, which is half of regular sake size. You can try many sakes from various regions in Japan.
Address: 1F Roppongi Business Apartment 7-17-12 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo
Opening hours: Lunch 11:30- 14:00