There are five breweries in Itoigawa, a city on the western edge of the prefecture bordering Toyama.
On the sea side of Itoigawa city are the Kaga-no-i sake brewery for Kaga-no-i and the Ikedaya sake brewery for Kenshin. About 15 minutes from Itoigawa city, in the Nechidani valley towards Kotaki Jade Gorge, is the Watanabe Sake Brewery, which produces Nechiozan. On the coast east of Itoigawa City is the Tahara Brewery, which produces Yukitsuru, and along the Hayakawa River, which originates from Yakeyama, is the Inomata Brewery, which produces Tsukimizu no Ike.
Trains are recommended for sake trips, but a car is convenient if the aim is to visit a brewery and buy sake snacks. You can also take a driver and do your own tastings. You can also take a driver along.
Get off at Itoigawa Station, served by JR West's Hokuriku Shinkansen and Oito Lines and the Japan Sea Hishui Line of the Echigo Tokimeki Railway, to the sea side where the Kaga-no-i Sake Brewery and Ikedaya Brewery are located.
At the Kaganoi brewery, which was restored after surviving a major fire in December 2016, visitors can see the work in the new brewery through a glass window. Book at least two days in advance if you want a guided tour and tasting by staff.
Right in front of the Kaganoi Brewery is the Station North Square Kitale, which opened in 20 years and hosts weekend markets and various events.
The exhibition hall is a space where photographs of the Itoigawa Great Fire and firefighting equipment used in the fire are displayed to pass on the record of the Great Fire.
Walk through the old gangi (gangi) streets, where the Itoigawa speciality 'Makino candy' is made, to the Ikedaya Sake Brewery. From Kaganoi Sake Brewery, it is a 5-minute walk.
No brewery tours are offered, but sake can be purchased. A stroll through the emotional streets around the brewery is also enjoyable.
After a visit to the Sea View Park in front of the station and the Sea of Japan Observation Deck, return to Itoigawa Station.
Get off at Nechi Station, the third stop on the Oito Line from Itoigawa Station, and walk for about 10 minutes to reach the Watanabe Sake Brewery.
The Toyo brewery, built by local craftsmen from cedar cut from the surrounding company-owned forests, sells a variety of Nechiozan and other Itoigawa specialities.
The Nechigawa River, which flows from Mt Ameshika and Mt Kubiki Komagatake, runs through the middle of the rice fields owned by the brewery, and the Fossa Magna Park is located across the Nechigawa River from the brewery. The fact that the Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line runs through the grounds of the Watanabe Brewery was introduced in the TV programme Bratamori in late November.
It is a valuable place to enjoy the brewery and the Fossa Magna as a set.
When you return to Itoigawa Station again, take a trip towards Toyama and visit Oyashirazu (Oyashirazu).
It is fun to look for jade on the jade beach in front of Roadside Station Oyashirazu Pier Park.
The facilities include both a restaurant and a shop. Local seafood and seaweed are available, as well as Oyashirachi salmon from late November to December.
From 1 December 2021 to 31 March 2010, an 'Ankou Fair' will also be held, with hotels and restaurants in Itoigawa offering ankou hot pots and ankou dishes.
*Photographs are for illustrative purposes only.
After enjoying Oyafuchi, return again towards Itoigawa Station to the Tahara Sake Brewery, located east of the city centre.
Tahara Sake Brewery does not offer tours of the brewery, but sake can be purchased.
The famous Ichinono water, which springs at the foot of Mt Kubiki Komagatake, is used as the brewing water.
The last stop is at the Inomata Sake Brewery in the Hayakawa Valley, where the Hayakawa River flows from its source in Yakeyama.
Tsukifumi no Ike (moonless pond), which is also the brand name of the brewery, is a famous wisteria spot about five minutes' drive uptown from the brewery, and was so named because the wisteria flowers hide the moon.
The Inomata Sake Brewery also does not offer tours of the brewery, but they are available for purchase.
If you make it to the Inomata Brewery, there is one spot you should definitely visit.
That is the farmhouse kitchen Hidamari.
*Photographs are for illustrative purposes only.
Local mothers prepare a menu of local delicacies: sasazushi (bamboo grass sushi) and soba (buckwheat noodles), as well as mountain delicacies. When you go on a trip, you want to eat something typical of the area! will be very satisfied.
Next door is the charcoal hand-baked rice cracker workshop run by Aguri Nosei, which produces and sells authentic rice crackers made from dough carefully dried from the Koshihikari Nosei rice grown in-house and hand-baked over a charcoal fire.
The secret of the deliciousness of the rice crackers here was also introduced in Issue 17 (2021 Autumn/Winter) of Niigata Hatsu R. The staff interviewed returned impressed by the deliciousness of the rice crackers and the farmhouse kitchen Hidamari's lunch.
In order to boost the five breweries in Itoigawa, a local association of breweries, liquor shops, restaurants and general volunteers has set up the Itoigawa Five Breweries Association to send out various messages.
Corona Disaster Previously, a number of events were organised, but this year, online events and other events have been organised.
On 21 November, the online sake festival 'Itoigawa Five Breweries Association: the charm of Itoigawa's breweries! was held and the five breweries discussed their breweries.
The Itoigawa Tourist Product Centre in the Jade Kingdom Pavilion, which is directly connected to Itoigawa Station, is one of the shops where sake from the five breweries is available.
Buy along with Itoigawa's specialities such as fish cakes and seaweed and enjoy them with your evening meal.
Photo: 'Niigata Hatsuri R', Pulse Design, Tomoko Takahashi.