Why Should You Visit Kyoto During Your Japan Tour
Kyoto is known for its rich historical heritage, reflected in its stunning natural scenery and traditional architecture. It also has a solid academic and creative environment, with numerous universities, research institutions, and companies that are innovation leaders. This combination of preserving tradition and embracing modernity creates a harmonious balance in the city. Kyoto is known for its numerous temples and shrines, over 2,000 in total, and its 17 UNESCO World Heritage cultural sites. In addition, the city has received recognition for its tourism, winning "The World's Best City" award from "Travel+Leisure" magazine in 2014 and 2015.
Kyoto's rich cultural heritage of hospitality is reflected in its hotels, conference centres, and the city. The city government and the Kyoto Convention & Visitors Bureau are working to promote Kyoto as a destination for international tourists by implementing various programs to improve the visitor experience, such as opportunities for visitors to interact with residents.
Why Kyoto Sake Tour is Popular and Which One Should You Pick
Sake, Japan's iconic drink made from fermented rice, originates in Fushimi, a city renowned for its ultra-pure water and long-standing brewing tradition. Even though Fushimi is the heart of the sake industry, visitors to Kyoto can still taste the best that Fushimi has to offer. Several sake-tasting options and tours are available, along with recommended pairing activities to make the most of your trip.
Fushimi, located south of Kyoto, is a well-known hub of sake production. The picturesque region is a sight to behold with its tree-lined waterways, stunning brewery buildings, and historical landmarks.
Fushimi – The Brewery District of Kyoto
Fushimi, a district in Kyoto, is blessed with abundant underground water. The area was previously known as Fushimizu or Fukusui, which means water flowing underground and emerging from a spring.
Fushimi's development began with the construction of a castle by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, which led to the growth of a bustling castle town.
Sake brewers quickly realized the advantages of being located near such an excellent water source. As a post station and an essential transport hub on the canal linking Kyoto, Osaka, and ultimately Tokyo (then known as Edo), Fushimi thrived. During the early Edo period (the mid-1600s), there were records of more than 80 sake breweries in Fushimi; during this time, Fushimi became a renowned producer of high-quality sake.
Kyoto Sake Tours: Top 10 Options for a Deeper Look
1. Kyoto Sake Brewery & Tasting Tour
This tour takes you through Japan's three prime sake brewery districts where you can taste 22 kinds of sake. The elaborate knowledge about sake throughout the tour will allow you to distinguish the difference between 22 kinds of sake. Explore the tranquil neighbourhood along the river in Kyoto and pay a visit to a nearby shrine. Among three major districts, one would be the Fushimi district known as a hub of sake breweries.
After the sake tasting, the guide will also take you to the shrine where you can sip on one of the most crystal clear groundwater. The tour will be inclusive of an admission fee to the sake museum and brewery, 22 kinds of sake tasting, and photos throughout the tour. If you have people with you below 20 years of age, then they will be provided foods and snacks instead of sake tasting. This tour will start from Chushojima station and end at Fushimi-Momoyama station. For this tour, per head booking charge will be around $82. You will be able to make the booking on Magical-Trip website.
2. Traditional Kyoto Full Day Bike Tour and Optional Sake Tasting
This full-day bike tour takes you through the traditional culture of Kyoto. Roam around the Buddhist Zen temples and Shinto shrines and witness the grandeur of the geisha districts of Gion and Miyagawacho. Riding on a bike and exploring the city on the car-free trails and narrow lanes with little traffic has charm. Experience some of the most impressive culture and fantastic views while you explore Kyoto like a local.
The tour covers a terrain of around 17 kilometres, wherein the tourists visit the places through either trekking or e-bikes. To start this tour, you must assemble at the pickup point in Sakura Sari. There are nine popular stops, such as Ginkakuji Temple, Heian shrine, and ending the tour with tasting sake at Matsui Sake Brewery. Operated by Adventours Kyoto, this tour does not provide the wheelchair and strollers. Further, the tour will be cancelled or rescheduled if there is bad weather. If you want to book this tour, the per-head cost will be around USD 89. Find it on Viator.
3. Kyoto Culture with Experts - Kimono, Zen, Sake
Hop on your bikes and cruise through the city to learn the unique aspects of Kyoto. The tour, which a former Zen monk leads with an MA degree in Japanese studies, takes you through a unique experience rather than getting lost in the tourist crowd. The tour that starts on the e-bikes takes you through popular sites such as Imperial Palace. The tour continues to the Nishijin Kimono Centre, the hub for Kimonos for centuries. Another stoppage on your way to the bike tour will be the Daitokuji Zen temple which gives the tourists an insight into Buddhism.
After visiting the Shimogamo Shinto Shrine, you can also visit a sake brewery and taste five different types of sake. Towards the end, you can have a Japanese dinner in the restaurant. This tour is inclusive of Lunch, admissions to different shrines and temples, and use of bicycles. If you are interested in this tour offered by Viator, then per-person booking can be done for roughly USD 79.
4. Kyoto: Sake Tasting and Walking Around Sake Town with Guide
Get to know the traditional art of sake brewing and taste different types of sake. Kyomachia will provide this whole experience, the former sake brewery in Fushimi’s brewing region. The district of Fushimi has various breweries and restaurants to taste local sake and food. The abundant supply of mineral-rich spring water ensures you taste the best sake. While enjoying the local sake you can also enjoy various attractions such as the famous Fushimi Inari Taisha and Uji City.
This city is known for its tea; thereafter, enjoy the food at your preferred restaurant towards the end of the tour. On your tour, you will also indulge in various types of beer, ice cream, and other luxurious food items. The tour includes pickup and drop facilities but is not recommended for children under 12 years, pregnant women, and people suffering from high blood pressure. Buy this Tour provided by Éclat Japon by paying USD 57 per head.
5. Kyoto Sake Brewery Tour
In operation since 1637, the Gekkeikan Okura sake museum is a peek into the centuries-old sake-making traditions, and this tour lets you live that experience beautifully. Tourists can learn about the age-old brewery process wherein the water, malt and yeast are combined with the steamed rice, and the brewing process is taken ahead. While visiting this tour, you will also learn how the taste of sake varies with the variety of rice.
For example, the grains shaved off are sweeter than those that are less shaved off. Apart from the large brewery, you will also visit a few smaller ones to get the hang of the scale and the difference in the type of sake produced. Make sure you go through all the prerequisites and instructions for a pleasant trip. Buy the tickets to this incredible Kyoto Sake Brewery at just USD 201.
6. Advanced Sake Tasting Experience
Experience the true essence of sake tasting with this Advanced Sake Tasting Tour. An expert will guide you as you sample around ten particular varieties of sake, including those brewed in a unique way not typically found on other tours. This tour is considered advanced due to its focus on traditional and rare brewing methods. You will have the opportunity to try high-quality, unique sake made using ancient techniques and new forms incorporating microorganisms and local wood for a distinctly regional flavour.
You will also get to understand the sake brewed by different types of Kojis and also sake brewed with modern methods. Last but not least, the tourists will also learn how sake is brewed by using sake. By sampling these different types of sake, you will appreciate the complexity and diversity of the sake-making process and the range of flavours it can produce. Buy tickets to this tour for USD 61 per head from the Kyoto Sake Experience site.
7. 3-Hour Sake Tasting + Brewery Tour
This 3-hour sake brewery tour gives a glimpse of sake brewing and food pairing that enhances the taste of the sake. To start with, the tourists will take a short walk and visit Fushimi’s most extensive sake brewery. Here you will learn comprehensively about the sake and the traditional brewing process. Towards the end of the tour, the tourists can elevate their taste palettes with a few sake flavors produced in the brewery. The benefit of doing this tour with an expert is that you will get to try different and unique flavours of sake rather than the usual flavours provided in every other sake tour.
The expert guide will explain the dry, sweet, rich, and fruity flavours and how they differ in taste. Along with the sake, you will also be served various Otsumami – a Japanese snack that is usually paired with alcohol. Get to know different categories of sake, the pairing of the right sake with sushi, the difference between hot and cold sake, and the basic sake-making process on this elaborate tour. If this tour excites you, book the experience on kyotosakeexperience.com starting at USD 77 per head.
8. Fushimi Inari and Sake Tasting Tour
Get to know the diverse culture of Kyoto through a 3.5 hours tour that takes you through the renowned shrines and also takes you through the sake production and tasting. The tour starts at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, a renowned religious site with striking red gates known as torri in Japanese. The expert local guide will take you to the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum to taste different sake samples and appreciate the difference.
This tour also includes the old sake brewery stop at a boutique sake shop for tasting sake. The tour includes a guide, train transport, entrance fees, and tastings. You will also get a chance to shop for souvenirs in a local shopping arcade. For the tour to start, the meeting point will be Kyoto Station Police Box and will end at Momoyama Goryo-Mae Station. This tour is an excellent opportunity to experience the culture of Japan in a fun and engaging way. You can buy tickets to this tour on Viator for approximately USD 75 per head.
9. Kyoto Sake Brewery Tour in Fushimi Sake District
Designed for a small group of maximum ten people, this Kyoto Sake Brewery Tour in Fushimi Sake District tour lasts for 3 hours, letting you explore some of the best sake tasting across the Fushimi district. On this tour, you will travel across both small and large breweries and enjoy some of the best sake available in the Fushimi district.
Thereafter, go on a guided tour to Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum, and last but not least, explore the local shopping arcade and other remarkable arts and crafts of the Kyoto district. As a memento of your tour, you can choose to buy one of the 80 types of sake offered. The meeting point is in front of the local SoftBank shop. For those who are looking to book this experience can do on By Food for around USD 164.
10. Kyoto Insider Sake Experience
Unwind yourself with this 3 hours tour hosted by Kotaro Maria that takes you through the experience of sake tasting and food pairing sessions in the most enjoyable way. Discover the traditional brewing processes of the largest sake brewery in Fushimi, taste various flavours produced there, and learn about the differences in taste, dry, sweet, rich, and fruity, and how they are produced. There will be ten sake tastings to appreciate the difference between each and understand which food goes best with which sake. When starting the tour, you will be handed a cheat sheet and tasting note helping you to discover the complex and beautiful world of sake. To book the Tour per head cost would be around USD 77.
Get a Better Understanding of Japan's Sake Culture
These tours help you discover the sake and food pairing tradition of Kyoto along with tasting various flavours. You will also gain a deep insight into the art of sake making and the different taste profiles that make each sake unique. Whether you are a budding connoisseur or a curious traveller, the sake-tasting experience is sure to add a memorable time in your Japan tour.
Japanese sake, which tastes different depending on the area where it is brewed, is the perfect thing to enjoy while traveling! Through sake, you’ll go deeper into Japanese history and culture. In the Shinto religion, drinking sake brings people closer to the Gods.