Sake Tasting In Takayama

30.September 2012


Takayama, JapanSunny afternoon to fill? Check.

Quaint, riverside, neighbourhood filled with sake breweries? Consider it filled.

Tucked amongst the craft makers, souvenir shops, and tea houses in Takayama are numerous sake breweries. In winter, when sake brewing is underway, it is possible to tour the breweries and learn some of the secrets to this ancient craft. Being as it was summer when we visited we had to make do with tasting the fruits of last years labour. Oh, the hardship.

Seeking out the hanging cedar balls indicating sake availability, we wandered the towns streets looking for tastings. Some breweries offer free tastings; good for the wallet but not as relaxed as when we paid a small fee to enjoy the small glasses in the tasting room where we could take our time and not feel pressured to purchase.

Takayama, JapanSake is all about the water (pure, fresh, and directly from the mountains here), the rice (polished down to its starchy essence), and the koji (the mold that converts the starch to sugar so the yeast can convert it to alcohol).

There are various grades and styles of sake but, quite frankly, I found them all to be quite similar. When tasting side by side I could taste subtle differences in sweetness, dryness, and fruitiness but, when simply enjoying a glass with a meal, each one tasted pretty much like the last. I enjoyed them all, don’t get me wrong, but I think I was expecting the range of flavours found in wine and beer.

Some of the places we visited were more than 300 years old. In Canada we’re lucky to find a place that’s been around 50 years!

Takayama, JapanThere were large, formal, tasting rooms in the bigger breweries.

Takayama, JapanOthers were small, family run places where we could hear the kids playing in the back room.

Takayama, Japan

Takayama, JapanThis one had a beautiful courtyard great for people watching.

Takayama, Japan

All were worth the time spent on a sunny, relaxed, afternoon.


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7 Responses to “Sake Tasting In Takayama”

  1. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) Says:

    If I had realized a day earlier how much I enjoyed sake, I definitely would have spent more of our day in Takayama wandering from brewery to brewery! I feel so grateful that our host in Furukawa was able to take us to some of the breweries there so we could try the local wares because they were delicious! Just another reason for us to go back to Takayama, I suppose! ;)
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..“The People Are the Places”: CouchSurfing in Furukawa

  2. Carmel Says:

    Beautiful pictures. I haven’t liked any of the sake I’ve had, but I have a feeling getting the real stuff in Japan might convince me to try again.
    Carmel recently posted..Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

  3. Kim Says:

    Yay! Love that picture of Jason. I remember when we drank Sake in Vancouver… you were prepping for your Japan trip then!
    Kim recently posted..Cow chasing and the mystery of grace

  4. Justin Dart Says:

    Love it. Sake tasting is great. I love dobroku the white unfiltered sake. It is sweet and potent. What was your favorite?

  5. Harley the Traveller Says:

    Lovely photos. Sounds like an afternoon well spent. That said, as much as I like Sake it gives me a terrible headache the next day unfortunately!

  6. zebrastravels Says:

    Takyama is such a hidden gem in Japan. I spent a lovely 2 days enjoying the city, the sake and having conversations without words.
    zebrastravels recently posted..Comment on Torn Labrum + Lack of REM = Mr. Toads Wild Ride by zebrastravels

  7. Turtlestravel (@Turtlestravel) Says:

    Great post! We loved the time we spent in Takayama. It’s such a beautiful part of the country. We can’t wait back to return and explore some more!
    Turtlestravel (@Turtlestravel) recently posted..Getting Sick: Rural Cambodia vs. Bangkok