Ride the Train to Izumo, the Birthplace of Sake Brewing
Immerse yourself in sake history with a guided tour of the shrine where Japan’s national brew was created
If you really want to learn about sake, then go to the source. Sake sommelier and guide Miwa Ishihara will take you on a train ride across Shimane Prefecture to Izumo City, famous as the birthplace of sake and home of Izumo Grand Shrine, a historic Shinto place of worship.
The journey on the Ichibata Railway takes in the scenic views of Lake Shinji, Japan’s seventh-largest, as your guide discusses local history and the connection between sake and Shinto. The first stop is Saka Shrine, where it is said sake was first concocted and enjoyed by the Japanese gods. Next, stop at a traditional Japanese restaurant to enjoy a lunch of seasonal delicacies along with a sake tasting. In the afternoon, your guide will bring you on a walking tour of Momen Kaido (The Cotton Road), an area of canals and old shops that prospered as a mercantile center in the 18th century. Today, traditional white plaster-walled earthen storehouses still line this picturesque road, evoking the atmosphere of days gone by.
After all that healthy walking, how about a few more cups of sake? Visitors can learn more about sake making with a tour of Sakemochida Honten, a government-registered tangible cultural property where sake has been brewed since 1877. It’s the perfect place for a toast to the gods.
Access: Take the Shinkansen bullet train from Shin-Osaka Station to Okayama Station (about 45 minutes). Take the local train to Matsue Station (2 hours 45 minutes), then take the bus for 10 minutes.
Matsue Shinjiko-onsen Station, Nakahara-cho, Matsue-shi, Shimane-ken