Spirit of Japan: three of the best sake regions to explore

From Kyoto’s aromatic style to the crisp, umami-rich brews of Hyogo, Japan’s national drink comes in many regional variations. Here are three of the key prefectures to visit for a taste of the country’s finest.

Japan's master artisans are renowned for spending their lives perfecting centuries-old crafts and, when it comes to the national drink, this is no different. With only three simple ingredients — water, rice and a fermentation agent called koji — Japan’s master brewers have created countless stark and subtle variations over the generations. From bold and fruity to light and floral, each region has its own unique brews. Here are just three of Japan’s many excellent sake-producing areas, and the local cuisines that go with them.

Kyoto

Less than three hours west of Tokyo by bullet train, is the cultural heart of Japan — Kyoto. For centuries, the city served as the imperial capital, with its serene shrines and tearooms, forested holy mountains and kimono-clad geisha. But in the Kyoto’s southeast, there’s a district known for its down-to-earth atmosphere: Fushimi. Rather than nobles and priests, the well-preserved wooden houses here belonged to samurai and merchants, and its willow-draped canal is overlooked by historic warehouses — several of them converted into breweries. ...continue reading