Anyone visiting Japan (who is of age) should take the chance to sample the local beverage sake. This truly unique alcoholic drink distilled from locally grown rice can be served chilled or warm, and pairs perfectly with Japan’s world-class cuisine. Of course every region of Japan has their own take on sake, and the best way to try the drink is visiting the local sake breweries.
In order to find information about the best sake breweries in Japan, visitors to the country can use the services of Global Mobile, which offers convenient pocket WiFi that can easily help you stay connected anywhere in Japan.
Whether you are drinking sake at home, or hope to visit Japan in the future, here are six regions brewing some of the country’s best sake.
Sake, better known as nihonshu in Japan, is made of only four ingredients: rice, water, koji mold and yeast. With such basic elements, each resource must be carefully selected. Niigata’s abundance of rice fields and its wintry climate allow sake brewers to source the best ingredients to produce sake that is known around the world.
Niigata is perfectly placed between the Sea of Japan and inland mountains, allowing winds to blow from the sea over the fields by day, and in the opposite direction by night – the perfect combination to help rice plants naturally fight off insects and diseases. Fresh water from mountain streams feed the fields. The water is soft yet rich in calcium and minerals, resulting in a smooth, subtle and clear sake.
Due to its prime location, the Nada district of Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture is known as Japan’s top sake producing region – producing 30% of the country’s sake. Close to prime rice-growing regions and the mineral-rich Rokko Mountains as well as distribution centers in Osaka and Kobe, Nada is home to several historic sake breweries – many of them dating back to the 1700s. The sake district is somewhat compact, and visitors can easily walk from brewery to brewery, many of which offer tours. What better way to sample some of the best sake in the world?
The rural areas outside of Kyoto city are famous for growing green tea, but Japan’s ancient capital is of course known for its sake. For something different, sake brewers at Kyoto Prefecture’s northern seaside hideaway of Ine have for nearly three centuries produced a local specialty known as Mankai sake. Translated as “Ine in full bloom,” this pure rice sake is made from an ancient strain of locally grown red rice, producing a unique spirit that tastes something like cherry-imbued roses.
Not to be outdone is Japan’s other ancient capital of Nara. Nara is Japan’s birthplace for refined sake. As such, visitors can tour some of Japan’s oldest, and most picturesque, sake breweries. You can taste some of the country’s most sacred sake here, including sake brewed following a 500-year-old recipe discovered in a local ancient shrine. Be sure to sample narazuke, traditional Nara vegetables pickled in yeast left over from the production of sake.
Further up north, Akita Prefecture’s most celebrated natural resources are high quality rice and clear, fresh water. These are truly what make a sake great, and any sake aficionado are quick to recommend Akita-brewed sake. The cold brewing technique, a result of the cold weather and heavy snowfall in Akita, produces a clean taste and fresh aroma. The master blenders at Akita’s breweries have also embraced the latest technology to complement the natural brewing process, producing sake that befits Akita’s nickname as the “Land of Sake.”
Saga Prefecture in Kyushu is a treasure trove of historic and sacred sites – as well as world-class sake. In the village of Hizen Hamashuku you will find Sakagura-dori (Sake Brewery Street), which has been a gathering point for sake and shoyu breweries for centuries. These days, only three sake breweries remain, but many of the traditional buildings on this 600m-long stretch house sake shops, cafés and bars where visitors can sample the local wares.
Stay connected during your Japan travels with Global Mobile. With various rental plans starting from ¥480 per day, the Pocket WiFi router can be picked up directly at the airport through advanced application, or it can also be delivered to your accommodation address.
Feature photo: Shaiith / Shutterstock.com