Looking to fully immerse yourself in a cultural experience that is uniquely Japanese, and possibly need some justification for some day drinking? Then head on over to one of the local Sake factories in Japan for a truly authentic experience. One such factory, the Sennen-ichi sake brewery, is located on Awaji Island, the mythological birth place of Japan. Tucked away in the Kansai region from the hustle and bustle of the major cities, this island is located within 2 hours of Osaka, and can be accessed either by ferry or by catching one of the high speed highway buses from the cities.
Sennen-ichi brewery is conveniently located on the main road in Higashiura, and has been in operation for generations now. The owners of the brewery are very accommodating and always happy to receive guests. The first part of the tour is a detailed explanation of the sake making process and information about the brewery, held in the main hall where the drink is being fermented in huge barrels and bottled. With the sennen-ichi brewery, the fermentation process is from October to March, at which time it should be ready to taste. One of the most interesting aspects of the brewery is that a lot of the processes are still very manual, including labelling, where the labels are stuck on the bottles one by one. This is very unlike what you would expect from a factory producing such a high volume of product.
After the professional description, the tour then proceeds to the second floor, for some sake tasting. There are several stations, all with five different drinks, and the tasting is in order of increasing alcohol level. The first drink is a light fruity one, with an almost wine-y taste. Should you be a light weight, this is a perfect one to indulge in. The owner actually described it as a woman’s drink, because of the low alcohol level, and it has a perfume style blue bottle, and name “Romance” to match.It’s quite affordable, and a 300ml bottle retails at 1080yen. The second one is named after the brewery, sennen-ichi, and the taste is already distinctively different from the first. The owner seemed a bit partial to the fourth sake – “shiborihiso”, quite understandably given its smooth taste indicating its superior quality. This also happens to be the most expensive bottle (720 ml bottle retails at 5400 yen).
After the tasting, there will be a chance to look around the shop at the wide array of products, ranging from sake, sake snacks and some unique sakazuki, the small ceramic cups the sake is served in. Be sure to bring enough cash, as there are a lot of souvenirs that will be sure to tempt you.