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Intimate and In-Depth Sake Tour Accompanied by Sake Samurais

Most wineries provide wine tasting and guided factory tours to satisfy participants, but Sake Journey’s upcoming comprehensive sake guided tour in Japan goes far beyond those experiences. Accompanied by two Sake Samurais*, Chizuko Niikawa-Helton and Timothy Sullivan, this cleverly planned, one-week long tour packs the full spectrum of sake’s charm to satisfy both sake connoisseurs and beginners alike.

Sake Samurais, Chizuko and Tim

During the tour, guests will be able to see different types of breweries in style, size, history and region; Hakkaisan Brewery in Niigata Prefecture, Yoshida Sake Brewery and Shata Brewery in Ishikawa Prefecture, and Tsukinokatsura Brewery in Kyoto Prefecture.  On each visit they will meet either the brewer president or toji master brewer.  “Those are the people you normally don’t get to meet. But we are going to meet them, share sake with them, have dinner with them, and this will be in a very relaxing environment,” says Sullivan, who will guide the tour together with Helton.

The group size will be small, more or less 10 people, allowing guests to have a more intimate experience. If some guests want more explanation about the brewing process or specific techniques, two Sake Samurais will be available all the time to talk and provide as much as they want to learn.  They can also ask questions of the toji and brewery workers.  If some guests want to just have fun drinking and eating, they can do that too.  The tour also organizes memorable dining plans in each region, as sake and local foods are inseparable.  The Sake Samurais and breweries select the best place for meals in each region.  In some places the breweries will be hosting the guests with specially made meals, while in other places guests will go out for local specialties.

Also, the tour includes two sake related events to round out the Japan sake experience.  On the first night in Tokyo, guests are taken to an izakaya (Japanese-style pub) to enjoy a real sake drinking experience with locals.  On the last day, they will join the Joy of Sake Festival which showcases 380 sakes along with appetizers prepared by specialty Tokyo restaurants.

Tour participants can bring many wonderful memories and experiences home, but if they want to actually bring something back to the U.S., many sake breweries sell sake cups, sake carafes and masu, tokkuri, and maekake.

With something special at every stop, it’s a wonderful way to experience Japan’s great sake and delicious local food, explore its sake culture and acquire extensive knowledge. Sake Journey’s tour will take place from October 31-November 7.

*Sake Samurai is a title authorized by The Japan Sake Brewers Association Junior Council.  The title is given to those who share a love of sake and the desire to nurture it, to restore the pride of sake and to spread sake culture not only within Japan but throughout the world.


Breweries included in Sake Journey’s Tour

Hakkaisan Sake Brewery was established in 1922 in Niigata Prefecture.  They employ advanced technology in their sake production, and their state-of-the-art facilities include Japan’s first underground tanks.  Their motto is: “Creating the best quality of luxury sake that is also reasonably priced”.


Shata Shuzo Co., Ltd.
Shata Brewery, home of Tengumai brand sake, was founded in 1823 in Ishikawa Prefecture.  The brewery maximizes the precious natural resources the region provides to handcraft the finest sake. The brewery specializes in the kimoto style brewing method, a traditional, laborious and technically demanding process.


Yoshida Sake Brewery Co., Ltd.
Known for the brand name “Tedorigawa”, Yoshida Sake Brewery has been producing fine sake in Ishikawa Prefecture since 1870. The brewery sticks to handmade production of sake as much as possible, and that spirit and their skills have led them to receive a number of sake awards. (Japanese only)


Tsukinokatsura (Masuda Tokubee Shoten Co., Ltd.)
Tsukinokatsura is a historic and traditional sake brewery located in Kyoto. Since its foundation in 1675, the brewery has been a home of nigori and koshu (aged sake) and loved by people for centuries. Seasonality and originality are the two main elements that make Tsukinokatsura one of the finest and long-established sake breweries. (Japanese only)