It’s an open secret that Tokyo has sake breweries – nine of them, in fact. Tucked away on the outer edges of the city where the water is clearer and the air is fresher, breweries that have been around since the Edo period still ply their craft. Here is a roundup of all nine, starting with the three breweries that offer free tours and tastings in Tokyo, and ending with a quick look at the remaining six and their sake brands.
Founded in 1702, Ozawa Shuzo in Ome is the oldest brewery in Tokyo. Surrounded by lush green mountains and with the Tama River flowing past, it’s in a picturesque location that’s perfect for a whole day out. The brewery complex consists of a sake shop, two tofu restaurants, and a barbecue area. Nearby there are two museums – one about Gyokudo Kawai, a master of Nihonga (Japanese-style painting), and one featuring kanzashi (traditional Japanese hair accessories). Nature trails in the area will take you past shrines and temples to Mitake Gorge. For hardcore hikers, one of Tokyo’s tallest mountains, Mount Mitake, is just a stone’s throw away.
Sake brand: Sawanoi
Tour details: Free tours are available in Japanese, with English information provided. The tour ends with a sake tasting session. Reservations are required. For more info see our Concierge listing:
This brewery first opened in 1863 but moved to its current location in Fussa in 1881. The brewery area features beautiful traditional architecture that remains in excellent condition, including the hongura (production building), where Tamajiman, the main sake brand, is still produced. If sake leaves you thirsting for more, Ishikawa also brews its own beer, Tama no Megumi. To try some, stop by Fussa no Birugiya, an Italian restaurant located in the brewery complex and featuring local fare and beer. You’ll also find a soba restaurant here, as well as a museum detailing the history of sake-making from the Edo period onwards.
Sake brand: Tamajiman
Tour details: Free tours are available in English and French on weekdays. Reservations are required in advance. Free sake tasting experience included. For more info, see our Concierge listing:
Tamura Shuzojo Brewery
The Tamura family used to be village heads of Fussa city and established Tamura Brewery in 1822. The business is still owned and managed by the family, with its 16th generation CEO currently at the helm. Some buildings in the brewery complex are Cultural Properties, including the well that was dug out almost 200 years ago – the water inside is still used for sake production. Their sake brand Kasen means “spring of joy,” referring to this vital source. Also in the complex, a pair of almost 800-year-old zelkova trees – auspicious symbols of harmony – offer shade and protection to the property. Tamura Shuzojo has always been small, and it intentionally limits its production. Most of its customers are based in Tokyo.
Sake brand: Kasen
Tour details: Free tours and tastings are available from Tuesday to Saturday, but only in Japanese. Reservations for 10 people or more are required. Bring an interpreter if possible to make the most out of the experience. Free tasting experience included. For more info, see our Concierge listing:
More Tokyo Sake Breweries
Unfortunately not all Tokyo brewery tours are free, and not all breweries have tours. They’re still worth a look though, as they produce stellar sake that can be found both at home in Japan and abroad. Here are the remaining six sake storehouses in the city.
Established in 1596, Toshiyama brewery is one of the oldest breweries in Tokyo. Its representative sake is Kinkon, which literally translates to golden wedding anniversary — an auspicious name to say the least. This multi-award winning sake uses underground water that flows all the way from the sacred Mt. Fuji, which may be one of the reasons Kinkon is used as the sacred sake at both Meiji Jingu and Kanda Myojin.
Sake brand: Kinkon
Tour details: Reservations required. Sake tasting costs ¥500. For more info, see our Concierge listing:
The Nakamura family can trace their family line back over 400 years, and their sake making here in Tokyo back about 200 years. Established in 1804, Nakamura Brewery uses groundwater from the crystal clear Aki River for its sake production. There are no regular tours available, but there is a museum open in the afternoons that explains the process of sake brewing.
Sake brand: Chiyotsuru
Tour details: Tours are occasionally granted if requested in advance. For more info, see our Concierge listing:
Located in Akiruno, western Tokyo, amidst lush green surroundings. The spring water used in the brewing process comes straight from the beautiful neighboring mountain, Shiroyama. Although there are no tours offered, there is a store on site where visitors can buy the brewery’s mainstay brand, Kisho. Here you can also find ume sake, which is a sake-based plum liqueur — it’s well worth the visit to sip on in the beautiful natural setting of the Okutama area.
Sake brand: Kisho
No tours available. More info at www.kisho-sake.jp
This sacred brew is offered at Okunitama Shrine in Fuchu City, which is where the brewery is based. Although there are no tours available, there is a nearby sake outlet called Nakyu Honten.
Sake brand: Kouzuru
No tours or website available. Address: 4-2-1 Miyanishi-cho, Fuchu, Tokyo
Located in Hachioji in western Tokyo, this brewery’s brand is named Kuwano Miyako, which means “the capital of mulberry”. Hachijoji used to be a famous area for silk production, which meant mulberry bushes — vital fodder for silkworms — covered the region.
Sake brand: Kuwano Miyako
No tours or website available. Address: 2-15 Yagi-cho, Hachioji, Tokyo
Note: As of February 28, 2018, Koyama Shuzo has closed down. The brand may or may not be taken over by another company — updates to follow.
This is the only sake storehouse that remains in the 23 wards of Tokyo. Established in 1878, the brewery makes its representative sake brand Marushin-Masamune using underground water that flows from Mount Chichibu.
Sake brand: Marushin-Masamune
Tour details: Tours available if booked one week in advance for at least five people. Visitors are requested to bring their own interpreter. A ¥500 fee is required per person. A sake tasting experience is included. More info at Koyama Shuzo.
If you’re interested in immersive guided brewery tours outside of Tokyo, check out Sake Tours: