Located in the Japan Alps in Gifu Prefecture , Takayama boasts a number of quality sake breweries. Warm yourself up and stock up on souvenirs while learning about traditional sake making in this Edo period castle town.
Traditional sake barrels are called sakadaru
Takayama has produced sake for over 400 years
All the breweries are in the Sanno-machi old town area of Takayama and are easily accessible by train and a short walk.
The closest station to the breweries is JR Takayama Station. From Tokyo, catch the Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen toward Shin-Osaka and get off at Nagoya Station . From there, catch a bus to Takayamanohi Bus Stop by JR Takayama Station. The breweries are all a short walk east of JR Takayama Station.
Takayama was once home to more than four dozen sake breweries, but time, economic factors and natural disasters have whittled that number down to seven.
Six of these are close to one another. They are easily recognizable by the cedar ball hanging above the door and the sake barrels by the door.
Starting at Harada Sake Brewery, visitors can sample around 12 types of sake for 100 yen. You can even keep your cup as a souvenir. Of particular note is the ginkgo sake, a new type of sake that stands up alongside traditional sake.
The next street over is Funasaka. They are at the forefront of bringing an ancient tradition into the 21st century. Their delicious sake can be tasted at the bar accompanied by brewery experts or at the adjacent restaurant with local cuisine.
Next up is Hirase, a couple of blocks to the east. This brewery has been producing sake since 1623 and is recognized by Michelin. As a result, their Kusudama sake is in high demand. Sampling at the source will cost you only a fifth of the price here that it will in restaurants around the world.
Back to the northwest is Kawashiri. Their unique approach is to store their product for years to prolong the fermentation process. This brewery's sake is never exported, and can only be bought in Takayama—a must for connoisseurs looking for a peak experience.
A few steps to the north sits Niki. Their building is such an authentic re-creation of a 17th-century brewery that it has been used for filming period dramas. Their specialty is ginjo sake made with superior rice.
The final brewery in Takayama's Sanno-michi area is Hirata Sake Brewery, home of the sweet suiou. This brewery has an interesting museum outlining the process, with ingredients and equipment used in sake manufacturing.