Sake Tasting in Tokyo
Originally the production of sake (actually called ‘nihonshu’ in Japan, with ‘sake’ being a term to cover all alcoholic drinks) was the preserve of the government, but later it was made by temples and shrines. Nowadays there are many breweries, or ‘kura’ around the country (in 2007 there were approximately 1700 kura making around 10,000 different types of sake), so getting acquainted with it can be tough for the uninitiated.
Meishu Center – Minato-ku
The Meishu Center is probably one of the best known nihonshu tasting spots in the city. Although it has the appearance of a busy standing bar, it is in fact a sake promotional center that offers tastings.
Kozue – Shinjuku
If you want to drink sake in a bar with real ‘wow’ factor, then it has to be Kozue. Located on the 40th floor of the Park Hyatt hotel, it is probably head and shoulders – and then some – above the rest.
Hasegawa Saketen – various locations
If you are looking for ease of access, the famous sake exporter Hasegawa Saketen is pretty handy, with seven locations around Tokyo.
Kuri – Ginza
Perhaps the complete antithesis to the Park Hyatt’s Kozue, Kuri sake bar in Ginza is just about the drink. There is a simple food menu to accompany your brew, but this simple and highly unpretentious bar takes its sake seriously.
Sasahana – Ginza
Also in Ginza is Sasahana, one of the more fashionable, yet stylish places to sample sake in Tokyo.
Sawanoi – Oume
While it is all well and good popping out to a bar to sample the nihionshu delights, it is quite another thing to check it out at its source. The Sawanoi brewery in Oume has been making nihonshu for more than 200 years, so you can be assured that they know what they are doing.