Fushimi (伏見) is located in the southern part of Kyoto City. This traditional neighborhood is a popular area among tourists. You will find one of Japan’s most famous spots, Fushimi Inari Taisha, here. But that’s not all, as there is an area with many sake breweries that you can visit.
One of the characteristics of Fushimi is its clear groundwater. Fushimi literary means “covered water”. To make good sake, good rice and high-quality water are indispensable. Soft water is the best, that means it doesn’t contain too much calcium, magnesium, and iron. Fushimi has become a place to produce sake because of the good water and the location close to the old capital.
It is said that they started the production of sake already in the 5th century. Sake developed significantly in the 8th century when Kyoto became the capital of Japan. More than 340 sake breweries existed in Kyoto in the 15th century. Today, 20 sake breweries in Fushimi still remain.
Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum
Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum is a museum on sake-making run by the Gekkeikan Sake Company, Ltd. This is one of Japan’s pre-eminent sake companies originally established in 1637. Opened in 1982, the museum is housed in an old sake brewery that was built in 1909, and it presents the history of sake in Japan and sake production in Fushimi in an easy-to-understand manner.
You can see some 400 sake production items displayed to show each stage of the process. It also displays period materials dating back to Gekkeikan’s founding, including different types of vessels. Traditional chants of sake makers are also played throughout the museum, recreating the atmosphere of the old brewery. In 2020, they have added a new theater room where you can watch a short film explaining sake brewing.
Following your visit, you can taste Ginjoshu and other sake in the lobby. After the tasting, you can stop by the museum shop where you can buy the sake that you just tasted. Additionally, there are many other types from everyday sake to high-quality expensive ones for sale. You can try the pickles that were made with the sake lees, too
Fee: Adults 600 yen, 13-19 years old 200 yen
Hours: From 9.30 am to 4.30 am
Kizakura Kappa Country
Kizakura is also one of Japan’s leading sake makers founded in the early 20th century. It is a branch company of Matsumoto Sake Brewing established in 1791. In the gallery, you can see the old utensils they used to make sake. And they explain the sake making process using elaborately made small models. They also exhibit Kappa, an imaginary creature which is the symbol of Kizakura Company. After visiting the gallery, you can taste different types of sake (200 – 500 yen) or enjoy lunch or dinner at the restaurant.
Hours: 10 am to 4 pm (restaurant 11.30 am – 2.30 pm / 5 pm – 10 pm)
Closed on Mondays
This facility is also run by Kizakura Company. It is located at their sake factory. You can learn how to make sake from the video in the guidance theater at the beginning of your visit. Then you can see the factory of sake and beer through a window. They also explain the history of the Kizakura Company with panels. After visiting the gallery, you can taste different types of sake (270 yen-) or enjoy lunch at the restaurant.
Fee: Free (you need to make a reservation)
Hours: From 10 am to 4 pm
There are many other activities around the sake brewery area. Here are some of them.
Teradaya is a ryokan or Japanese-style inn built during the Edo period. It is very popular among history fans. Historical hero Sakamoto Ryoma, who contributed a lot to the Meiji Restoration in the late 19th century, used to stay there when he came to Kyoto. Now, this inn is a museum, but you can still stay there with a reservation.
Fee: 400 yen for adults / 200 yen for students
Hours: From 10 am to 4 pm
You can enjoy a 50-minute canal cruise in an old-style small boat. The canal is surrounded by greenery and old sake breweries, so you will feel as if you have been transported back in time to the Edo period. The boat makes a short stop at a lockage. The small museum there explains the mechanism of the lockage.
Fee: 1,200 yen for adults / 600 for elementary school students
Hours: Open from March 20 to December 5. From 10 am to around 4 pm (depending on the season). The boat leaves every 20 minutes except at lunchtime. Closed on Mondays.
Access to Fushimi Sake Brewery Area
You can walk from either Chushojima Station (Keihan Line), Momoyamagoryo-Mae Station (Kintetsu Line), or Momoyama Station (JR Nara Line).
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