Tokyo is a vibrant city with countless spots to visit. Things to do in Tokyo range from eating sushi at the world’s most famous fish market to checking out the colorful fashion trends in Harajuku. If you are a first-time visitor, a few days may not be enough to fully enjoy Tokyo! But if you have seen most of Tokyo after a few visits, and you’ve exhausted all the must-do spots – fought the crowds at Shibuya crossing, climbed Tokyo Skytree, wandered around traditional Asakusa – then you might look to venture further afield and explore where the locals go for fun and drinks. Let’s explore the best sake breweries in Tokyo!
Looking for a less touristy spot? Visit a Sake Brewery!
As a guide, I often hear from travelers who want to get off the beaten path in Tokyo. For an interesting and authentic outing, I would suggest one of the many great sake breweries, which you can visit with just a day trip from the city. Although it is not widely known, Tokyo boasts nine sake breweries, and there are many sake breweries in nearby prefectures as well. Most of them offer brewery tours and tastings.
While none of these breweries are a secret, most travelers still miss out on them in favor of more touristy spots in Tokyo. If you love Japanese food and sake, I would encourage you to visit one of these sake breweries to learn more deeply about the brewing process and the different types of sake. Here are five of the best sake breweries to visit on a day trip from Tokyo.
Ozawa Sake Brewery （小澤酒造）
Established in 1702 with over 300 years of history, Ozawa Sake Brewery is the oldest sake brewery in Tokyo. The brewery is famous for its brand “Sawanoi”. Located way out west in the city of Ome, an hour and a half by train from central Tokyo, this brewery is a perfect getaway from the city. Surrounded by lush mountains and clean air, you can enjoy the beautiful sceneries of Japan’s gorgeous landscape without even stepping out of Tokyo. The brewery has a sake tasting bar, a sake shop, two homemade tofu restaurants, and a large garden on the property. The garden is a sake lover’s paradise overlooking the Tama River, where you can order all of Ozawa brewery’s products. You can also order a sake tasting flight and some snacks to enjoy as you bask in the tranquil nature. There are free guided tours of the brewery followed by a free tasting of seasonal sake at 11am, 1pm, 2pm and 3pm every day of the week except Monday. The tours are available in Japanese, with English information provided. They also recently started a guided brewery tour in English taking place twice a week, usually at 11:30am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The brewery tours, whether in Japanese or English, must be booked in advance through a form on their website:
The regular tour (in Japanese) runs four times a day, but as there are limited spaces it is really best to book in advance.
If a three-hour round trip from central Tokyo sounds like a lot of time to spend for a trip to just a sake brewery, there are many other things in the area to keep you entertained. One of the prominent mountains for hiking in Tokyo, Mount Mitake, is walking distance from the brewery so it makes a good start or end to a hiking trip. There are also two museums nearby, one dedicated to Gyokudo Kawai, a master of Japanese-style painting, and one features Kanzashi, traditional Japanese hair accessories.
Ozawa Sake Brewery Sake Brand: Sawanoi
Address: 2-770 Sawai, Ome-shi, Tokyo
Hours: 8:00 – 17:00
Closed: Monday (If a Monday is a national holiday, closed the following Tuesday)
Tour Schedule: Duration 45 Minutes (Includes sake tasting)
Tours in Japanese – Starting from 11:00, 13:00, 14:00, 15:00 (Closed Mondays)
Tours in English – Starting from 11:30 (Only Tuesday and Thursday)
Ishikawa Brewery （石川酒造）
First established in 1863 and moved to its current location in Fussa city in 1881, Ishikawa brewery is a 120-year-old sake and beer brewery producing Sake “Tamajiman” and craft beers Tama no Megumi and Tokyo Blues. The brewery is located on the west side of Tokyo, around fifty minutes away from JR Shinjuku station by train. The brewery complex consists of a historical beer museum, a sake shop, an Italian restaurant, and an onigiri (rice ball) restaurant. The area retains a sophisticated and traditional atmosphere, as the old Japanese warehouses, called “kura,” and classic sake cellar are still in use. The brewery also offers free tours in English and French on weekdays, where you can learn about Ishikawa brewery’s products, sake brewing process, and the history of its surrounding region.
Ishikawa BrewerySake Brand: Tamajiman
Address: 1 Kumagawa, Fussa-shi, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00 – 16:00
Tour Schedule: Duration 60 Minutes (Includes Sake Tasting)
Tours in English – They accommodate tours from 10:00 – 16:00
Advanced reservations are required at least one day prior to the day of the tour.
To register for the tour, apply using the reservation form below: https://www.tamajiman.co.jp/en/contact/
When people think of a sake brewery, they often envision a place out in a rural area, surrounded by lush, beautiful nature. However, this sake brewery will make you throw your assumptions out the window. Toshimaya is located in a residential area in Higashimurayama city, which is less than an hour away by train from Shinjuku station. With its roots going all the way back to 1596, Toshimaya is one of Tokyo’s oldest sake makers, that have passed down their traditional sake brewing process from generation to generation. The brewery originated when its founder opened the original sake store and sake bar in central Tokyo in 1596. In 1930, the brewery moved to its current location and started producing sake. Like any brewery, the water source for sake production is critical, and here it’s obtained from underground water that flows all the way from Mt. Fuji. Although there are no regular brewery tours, they offer a private sake tour in Japanese that includes a tasting of 4-6 kinds of sake. They also often hold events and workshops. Please check their website for upcoming events.
Toshimaya ShuzoSake Brand: Okunokami, Kinkon
Address: 3-14-10 Kumegawa-cho Higashimurayama-shi, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00 – 17:00
Closed: Saturday and Sunday
Tour: Private tours are available only in Japanese by reservation
Tour Fee: ¥550 includes 4-6 types of sake tasting
In quest of its family motto “brew with love, sell with love,” Tamura Brewery has been producing sake for almost 200 years. this brewery is one of the best sake breweries in Tokyo, located 25 miles west from Central Tokyo. The brewery is in a small neighborhood with no crowds, no skyscrapers, and no hustle & bustle of the city, but there are mountains, rivers, and good old Japanese culture. Tamura brewery is a family-owned brewery with a 16th generation president in charge now. The family served as the village head for this area in past years, and started sake brewing from the 9th generation. Inside the brewery property, there is a 200-year-old Japanese warehouse called “kura” that is still used today. They offer free tours and sake tastings from Tuesday to Saturday, but only in Japanese. Reservations are required in advance through their website:
Tamura ShuzoSake Brand: Kasen
Address: 626 Ooaza Fussa, Fussa-shi, Tokyo
Hours: 9:00 – 17:00
Closed: Monday and Sunday
Izumibashi Sake Brewery（泉橋酒造）
Located an hour and a half away from central Tokyo, Izumibashi Sake Brewery is one of the best sake breweries in Tokyo–and of the few sake breweries that grows its own sake rice. Although rice is one of the most important factors in determining the quality of sake, sake breweries do not generally own rice fields and grow their own sake rice. They usually contract with farmers to produce the sake rice they need for sake production. If you compare Izumibashi with a winery, for example, it is like a wine estate where the entire wine-making process takes place in the same appellation. By sticking to the belief, “Sake starts with rice,” Izumibashi takes rice farming seriously in order to provide high quality sake. In the brewery tour, you can also visit their surrounding cultivation fields.
Izumibashi Sake BrewerySake Brand: Izumibashi
Address: 5-5-1 Shimoimaizumi Ebina-shi, Kanagawa
Hours: 10:00 – 18:00
Closed: Wednesday and Sunday
Tour Schedule: Duration 75 Minutes, Every Saturday 14:00 – 15:15
Tour Fee: ¥1,500
>> Tips for a great Sake Brewery Visit
An excellent way to discover the wonderful world of sake is to visit a sake brewery. But considering how traditional and private many Japanese sake breweries seem, you might feel a bit daunted. Now that you’ve seen some of the best sake breweries in Tokyo, here are some tips you need to know before visiting.
Rule #1: DO NOT eat fermented food on the day of visit
This might sound odd, but many sake breweries ask that you refrain from eating Natto (fermented soy beans) on the day of visiting. The brewing process of sake is very delicate and complex, and the fermented Natto bacteria is very strong and could suppress the bacteria that is essential to the fermentation process. For many of you, forgoing the sticky fermented Natto soybeans shouldn’t be a challenge anyway, but it’s good to know as it could be devastating for sake breweries. Aside from that, refrain from eating any other fermented food such as yogurt, cheese, and pickles, and refrain from wearing strong perfume on the day of visit for the same reason.
Rule #2: Wear comfortable shoes and clothes
There are many slippery places inside breweries, such as wet floors, loose hoses, and steel scaffolding next to the brewing tanks, so please wear comfortable shoes. If you are allowed inside the brewing area proper, you might be expected to wear a hairnet, lab coat, and/or boots.
Rule #3: Ask questions and have fun!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk to the brewery employees as well as the others on your tour. Even if you can’t understand Japanese, it’s a fun experience for everyone involved–including those running the tour. So don’t be shy, and take advantage of anything and everything offered to you!