A Sake Brewery Tour Day Trip from Fukuoka - Perfect for foreign visitors, too!2019.04.19
Blessed with quality water and an abundant supply of rice, Japan is a country with a deep-rooted sake brewing tradition, boasting a great number of sake breweries offering top-quality sake products.
Sake brewery tourism, as it is often called, is a new kind of tourism which has seen increasing popularity in recent years. This novel brand of tourism of course encompasses activities such as taking sake brewery tours, meeting the brewery owners, and enjoying sake tasting. However, in addition to sake-related activities, this kind of tourism also gives visitors the chance to get a feel for local peoples and their cultures and regional dishes as well.
In this article we will introduce some sake breweries that you can visit in just a short day trip from the city of Fukuoka! In addition to the breweries themselves, we will likewise have a look at some other tourist destinations worth visiting in the surrounding areas.
Kashima City in Saga Prefecture “Sake Brewery Tourism Hizennya”
First up is Sake Brewery Tourism Hizennya, a sake brewery located in the beautiful historic town of Hizenhama.
Established in the year 1914 and run by the Minematsu Brewing Company, this brewery’s motto is “a brewery of encounters and emotions”. Here you can enjoy not only a fascinating tour of the brewery itself, but also the beauty of the surrounding neighborhood as well.
The brewery offers a wide range of products including shochu, fruit liqueurs, amazake (a sweet low- or non-alcoholic rice beverage), and of course a line of Hizenhamashuku sake products brewed right here using locally grown Ikemako rice.
Inside the brewery you will find some great photo spots, as well!
Here you will find a cauldron once used to steam the rice used to make sake.
You can even hop in and take a picture!
This tank is used to mix the water, koji (malted rice) and steamed rice used in the sake making process.
What a unique experience!
Next stop is the sake tasting area.
Here you can enjoy tasting as many different kinds of beverages as you like, from the popular Hizenhamashuku junmai daiginjo sake to the delicious sweet fruit vinegars.
Fourth-generation owner Kazukiyo Minematsu wanted to create a relaxed atmosphere where you can both enjoy tasting different kinds of sake and purchase your favorites. (But remember to drink in moderation!)
Now that’s a great face right there!
The product lineup includes a number of award-winning sakes so tasty they will have you smiling before you know it!
First-place award winner: Hizenhamashuku Junmai Ginjo
You can pick up a bottle or two of your favorites to take home right here!
Enjoy local flavors and the cool retro flair of the building’s interior design all from this charming little town.
Above all else, brewery owner Mr. Minematsu seeks to create a place where you can enjoy yourself and which will make you feel glad you came.
Be sure to check out Sake Brewery Tourism Hizennya and experience this brewery’s nostalgic cozy, relaxed atmosphere and welcoming staff for yourself!
■Directions to Sake Brewery Tourism Hizennya
Take the JR Kagoshima Main Line train bound for Kurume and get off at JR Tosu Station (about 30 minutes).
Take the Nagasaki Main Line train bound for Nagasaki from JR Tosu Station and get off at JR Hizenhama Station (about 1 hour and 15 minutes).
The brewery is about a 6-minute walk from the JR Hizenahama Station.
■Sake Brewery Tourism Hizennya
Address：2761-2 Hamamachi, Kashima-City, Saga
Recommended Sightseeing Spots in Kashima City
“Yutoku Inari Shrine”
Considered one of Japan’s three most famous Inari shrines, Yutoku Inari Shrine attracts some 2.8 million visitors each year.
Constructed during the Edo Period in the year 1687, the shrine is a well-known destination for prayers for prosperity in business and family fortune. It is also known as Chinzei Nikko for the richly colored lacquer of its magnificent main shrine.
The approximately 400-meter path leading up to the shrine is lined with gift shops and dining establishments to welcome shrine visitors and is particularly lovely in the springtime when it is painted with the colors of the cherry blossoms in bloom.
For more information, visit Kashima City’s Official Tourist Information Website “Kashimairo”.
■Directions to Yutoku Inari Shrine
Take the limited express train from JR Hakata Station to JR Hizen Kashima Station (about one hour) and take a taxi or bus from there (about 10 minutes).
Kurume City in Fukuoka Prefecture “Hiyokutsuru Brewery”
Next up is the Hiyokutsuru Brewery located in the city of Kurume in Fukuoka Prefecture.
You will find this brewery nestled amidst the relaxing scenery of this quaint town straddling the Chikugo River.
Using water pumped from the 200-meter deep subterranean streams of the Chikugo River as well as 100% home-grown rice, this brewery uses only local ingredients in the sake brewing process. Here you can take a customized tour of the interior of the brewery.
Rather than a set tour, the brewery staff will take you on a customized tour catered to your personal interests – a must-see, particularly for sake aficionados and those interested in learning more about the brewing process first hand.
Once you have washed your hands and put on your hairnet to ensure that no stray hairs come loose during the tour, it is time to start the tour!
Throughout the tour you will find a detailed explanation of each piece of equipment.
You will also find explanations of the Japanese sake making process. Explanations are written in English as well, so you can gain a deeper understanding of the process as a whole.
Pictured here are moromi fermentation tanks. Moromi is the base ingredient used to make fermented products such as Japanese sake and soy sauce.
Just one tank can process two tons of white rice to make some 4500 liters of 19% genshu (undiluted sake), that is, 2500 1.8-liter bottles’ worth of sake!
In addition to Japanese sake, other products such as distilled shochu are also made here.
Pictured here is a machine used in the authentic shochu distillation process. 2000 liters of moromi are used to yield some 700 liters of 44% shochu.
Pictured here is a rice mill used in the process of cleaning and polishing the locally-grown rice which will later be used in the brewing process.
You can even label your own bottle to take home with you if you would like!
After your tour of the facilities you can enjoy tasting the brewery’s local sake.
Now there’s yet another great face!
What could be better than a delicious cup of sake?
All the varieties of sake available for purchase at the Hiyokutsuru Brewery are manufactured entirely at the brewery from start to finish using water from the Chikugo River and locally grown rice, strictly adhering to brewery guidelines at all times. This local sake is the real deal!
While you can always purchase sake from the brewery itself, a wide selection of its products can also be found at nearby sake shop Sake no takeya.
Located about a 10-minute walk from the brewery itself, a wide selection of Hiyokutsuru Brewery’s sake products are available for purchase at Sake no takeya.
If you feel like picking up a few bottles of sake after your brewery tour, be sure to stop by nearby sake shop Sake no takeya
■Directions to the Hiyokutsuru Brewery
ake the Nishitetsu Tenjin-Omuta Line train bound for Omuta from the Nishitetsu Fukuoka Train Station and get off at the Nishitetsu Daizenji Station (about 40 minutes).
From Daizenji take the Nishitetsu Bus bound for Okawabashi and get off at the Kamijojima Bus Stop (about 12 minutes).
The brewery is about a 5-minute walk from the Kamijojima Bus Stop.
Address：466-1 Jojima-machi Uchino, Kurume-City, Fukuoka
Recommended Sightseeing Spots in Kurume City “Fruit-picking”
Fruit picking is without a doubt one of Kurume’s most popular tourist attractions.
You can enjoy fruit picking year-round in Kurume, with a number of fruit farms including strawberry, grape, blueberry, Asian pear and Japanese persimmon farms.
or more information about fruit picking in Kurume, visit the Kurume Bureau of Tourism and International Exchange’s official website “Furutsu Navi”.
■Directions to Kurume City
・Approximately 30 minutes by limited express train from Nishitetsu Fukuoka(Tenjin) Station to Nishitetsu Kurume Station.
・Approximately 17 minutes by shinkansen from JR Hakata Station to JR Kurume Station
・Approximately 45 minutes from Fukuoka Airport by intercity bus
So there you have it – two breweries that can easily be reached from the city of Fukuoka: Sake Brewery Tourism Hizennya and Hiyokutsuru Brewery. Take a tour of these breweries while exploring the surrounding areas for a refreshing little getaway!