Convenient and full of intriguing travel spots, Tokyo is one of the most visited cities in the world. Having been here for countless times, some visitors even regard it as their second home. However, maybe there is still something you do not know about your second home – in fact, there are some very outstanding breweries that are yet to be known and waiting for your exploration. Ishikawa Brewery is one of them.
Sake Brewing Started from Tama Area
Situated in Fussa City, Ishikawa Brewery is accessible since it is just about one hour away from Shinjuku by train. Established since 1863, it is one of the oldest breweries in Tokyo where you can not only learn how sake is made, but visit some interesting historical constructions and enjoy their craft-made sakes that are not available in other areas – literally a sake-themed amusement park.
Once you enter the brewery, you feel like you are getting back to the 19th century. There is a traditional Japanese garden with beautiful running water.
The underground water running here is exactly the one used to brew the sake of Ishikawa Brewery. It is confirmed by Waseda University that the quality of the water is as great and clean as Evian. Medium-hard, it leads to a sake with fuller structure.
Right in front of the brewing house, a huge ball called “Sugitama” (literal meaning: ball of cedar) is hung. Made of fresh leaves of cedar, this ball-like object is green at first and hung when new sake of the year is done producing. However, as one year is gone, it will turn brown, indicating that the new sake has been perfectly matured.
Culture and characteristics of the brewery are explained by the staff in details. It is surprising that other than Yamadanishiki, the brewery also actively and widely adopts “Koshihikari”, a type of rice we usually eat, for their sake brewing. Since its size is too small, it is hard to polish and has made many breweries abandon it. However, owning high-tech machines has enabled Ishikawa Brewery to brew their sake with this savory rice. The ultimate sake is usually richer, more structured and sweeter with more umami.
Their small historical museum is worth exploring as well. You can find precious exhibits such as the label of Yaezakura, which was the first brand of Ishikawa Brewery over 100 years ago, and cute hand-made figures which illustrate the sake-making process.
The brewery is not only where the sake is made, but the family of the current owner lives. The building is even recognized as Japan’s Cultural Heritage, demonstrating the efforts of Ishikawa Brewery in preserving history.
A souvenir shop and restaurant can also be found inside the brewery. It is interesting that instead of traditional Japanese cuisine, Western dishes are served in the restaurant because the brewery wants to prove sake can create harmony as well with a wide variety of food.