A series of sake tours around the prefecture to help you enjoy and plan realistic sake trips.
This issue features the city of Kashiwazaki, which on 26 July hosted the first grand Gion Kashiwazaki Festival Sea Fireworks Festival in three years.
Kashiwazaki City is home to the Hara Shuzo brewery of Koshinohomare, the Abe Shuzo brewery of Koshino-Osan and Abe, and the Ishizuka Shuzo brewery of Hime-no-i.
The best place to visit by train is the Hara Sake Brewery, less than a 10-minute walk from Kashiwazaki Station.
Founded in 1814. The brewery has been brewing sake in the area, which flourished as an inn town on the Northern Highway.
The company suffered extensive damage in the 2007 Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake, but all employees worked together to rebuild. The following year, a new brewery, the Wazokura, was completed and the sake rice jointly developed was named Koshikagura.
Koshikagura is used in products such as Koshinohomare Daiginjo-genshu Koshikagura.
Hara Brewery currently uses all rice produced in the prefecture. The rice is also milled in-house.
Individual tours of the brewery are not available, but you can enjoy a relaxing shopping experience at the Sake Saikan, a direct sales outlet attached to the brewery, which sells all the company's products.
A summer-only product of note is Koshinohomare Junmai Summer Fireworks, featuring the Kashiwazaki fireworks, and available in six different firework labels, making it an ideal souvenir for the Bon Festival.
Awasshu, a sparkling junmai sake with second fermentation in the bottle, which has an elegant sweetness and a clean taste that goes well with desserts, was awarded the highest gold medal at the recently held Wineglass Delicious Japanese Sake Awards 2022.
On 1 October, Sake Day, the prefecture will be one of the first in the country to launch a sake made from new rice.
Koshinohomare Junmai Hazuki Minori Shinmai Shinshu (New Rice New Sake) is an unfiltered, unpasteurised sake made from Hazuki Minori rice produced in Kashiwazaki and Kariba Village at 90% milling ratio. Enjoy the delicious flavour of the rice.
In front of Kashiwazaki Station is the Restaurant Ohashi (tel. 0257-22-5864), where you can taste Kashiwazaki's seafood and famous sake from all over the prefecture, including Koshinohomare.
The restaurant's set menus also include sashimi of sea bream and boiled boiled boiled burdock with tail head. The restaurant is a long-standing station-front classic, loved by locals and tourists alike.
This facility introduces Donald Keene, a Japanese literature scholar who left behind numerous achievements in Japanese literature and culture and had close ties to Kashiwazaki City.
There are also regular events, so check the official website before heading out.
From Higashi Kashiwazaki Station, go to Kashiwazaki Station again and take the Shinetsu Honsen Line towards Toyama. Enjoy a relaxing train journey while watching the summer sea from the windows of the train.
Overlooking the Sea of Japan, Aoigawa Station is also a stop on the Echino Shu*Kura, a train based on the concept of sake. Many people enjoy taking photos with the setting sun in the background.
Get off at Aomi River Station, and at the top of a hill up a steep hill on the old Hokkoku Highway, there is a new teahouse for sake.
From the gallery on the second floor, visitors can enjoy a spectacular view of the Aomi River Station below, the Aomi River and Whale Wave Beach, and in the distance, the seagulls' nose, nicknamed Koibito Cape (lovers' cape).
Sake no Shinchaya sells Hara Shuzo's local limited edition sake Gin no Tsubasa Special Honjozo, as well as a selection of local sake from Sado and other parts of the prefecture.
In spring, the Someiyoshino cherry trees in front of the shop bloom beautifully, in summer you can play in the sea at Aomi River Beach, and in autumn salmon run up the Tanegawa River, which flows under the Yoneyama Bridge, and you can learn about salmon ecology at Kashiwazaki Salmon Hometown Park. Visit in combination with seasonal sightseeing.
The Abe and Ishizuka breweries are recommended to visit by car.
Founded in 1804, Abe Brewery is led by Yuta Abe, the sixth generation of brewers and head of production, who joined the brewery eight years ago, and whose average age is 29, and the brewers continue to take on new challenges.
So far, the company has been involved in the Abe and ★ (Star) series, and the Hojoubetsu series, in which sake is brewed by rice field, but this year it will take a further big step forward.
This is the entry into the non-alcoholic genre, craft cola syrup making.
A project on makuake, a support purchase system, was implemented until May and manufacturing began with support far exceeding the target.
Kuracola, a sweet sake craft cola, harmonises the natural sweetness of koji amazake with the pungent flavour of Yoneyama toki, a spice that is only grown in Kashiwazaki's sacred mountain of Yoneyama.
The recommended way to drink it is to mix 1 kuracola with 3 gin-cold strong carbonated soda and add citrus fruits to finish.
On 6 August 2022, a cola building and new sales office will open, and the brewery is moving to transform itself into a place where men and women of all ages can enjoy themselves.
From August to September, 'Bokutachi no Sake', in which the brewers are in charge and free to make things, will also be released. The series uses the traditional sake brewing method of the traditional sake brewing method because it is "fun to make". We look forward to the flavours of this season.
About a 5-minute drive from Abe Brewery is Kashiwazaki Yume no Mori Park.
The park was opened in 2006 with the aim of restoring the satoyama and providing a place for an environmental school. Various hands-on programmes are available for children and adults.
The Satoyama café I'm home, located in the Eco House, offers pasta and desserts using ingredients from local producers.
During the summer, shaved ice made with Echigohime from Kashiwazaki is also available.
Ryokan soft-serve ice-cream is also available all year round. Stop by for a stroll around the park.
The sister restaurant kitchen105, located in the Hakoniwa complex, a renovated former sash factory near the National Route 8 bypass, a six-minute drive from the park, also serves local sake from the Abe Sake Brewery. Check it out too if you get the chance.
A 20-minute drive from Abe Sake Brewery towards Takayanagi takes you to Ishizuka Sake Brewery, which also offers sake brewery tours.
Visits may not be possible depending on the work being carried out that day, so contact the company in advance.
Ishizuka Shuzo, founded in 1912, sells a variety of products under the motto 'Rinrei Houjun', a four-stage glutinous rice brewing process.
This year's summer recommendation, Echigo Takayanagi Sawagani Hi-ire, is a junmaishu with an aroma and flavour close to that of freshly pressed sake, made by bottle hi-ire.
With the gentle flavour and crisp aftertaste of a four-stage glutinous rice brewing process, it is a perfect accompaniment to a meal. Only rice produced in Takayanagi is used for the Echigo Takayanagi brand.
The name of the sake comes from the fact that the stream running behind it has many king crabs in it. We found some king crabs when we visited before!
Rice grown in clear, melted snow and sake made from this water conveys the natural richness of Takayanagi.
Takayanagi Jyonnobi Village is a 5-minute drive from Ishizuka Sake Brewery in the direction of Matsudai, Tokamachi City.
Along with the hot springs and restaurant, a shop selling handmade tofu, ganmodoki and local doburoku is also popular.
A further drive is recommended to visit Ogino Island and the kayabuki village of Kadode, and to try your hand at making washi at Koshi 's raw paper workshop, Kadode Washi.
Go on a Kashiwazaki sake journey to experience the stories of three breweries.
Photo collaboration / Abe Sakezo Ishizuka Sakezo Hara Sakezo Kashiwazaki City Commercial Tourism Division Satoyama Café I'm Home