Fushimi Chushojima in Kyoto is maybe the most famous sake district in all of Japan, and you can find the headquarters of many famous sake breweries here, like Geikkeikan and Kizakura. This area of Kyoto has also managed to keep its historic façade almost intact through the years, so the atmosphere here is very historic (though maybe not as historic as the geisha district of Gion).
Fushimi Chushojima is the area to be in Kyoto if you want to know more about sake (or if you just want to drink a lot of it), as it’s almost like a wonderland of sake, or if you want to sound fancier, using the Japanese term, nihonshu.
Fushimi Yume Hyakushu is in a huge, traditional Japanese building, which used to be the headquarters of Gekkeikan, the sake giant of Kyoto. So there is a lot of history behind this café. This café’s specialty is their sake affogato, which you enjoy either with sake or with yuzu liquor. It’s not
often you get to have both ice cream and sake at the same time, so be sure to take this chance!
So after going to Fushimi Yume Hyakushu, the previous headquarters of Gekkeikan, it’s time to hit Gekkeikan proper. This is actually a museum, where you get to learn about how sake is made, using the excellent water of Fushimi. They even have cookies for children! For the low, low entrance fee of 300 yen, you get to drink three kinds of sake and take home a bottle of high-quality nihonshu (the fancy word for sake), so there is nothing to complain about here! You should definitely hit both Fushimi Yume Hyakushu and Gekkeikan when you’re in Fushimi. But wait! There’s more! Just look down for more interesting spots in Fushimi Chushojima:
Remember to also take a look at the sake barrels that used to be used to make Gekkeikan’s sake!
Kizakura Kappa Country is by the other famous sake brewery in Kyoto, Kizakura. Their Kappa Country is like a small sake theme park where you get to try all kinds of fun things, like many kinds of sake and even some craft beer. You can also try nigori-shu here, which is a type of sake with a cloudy appearance, and a taste that somewhat resembles a mix of sake and makgeolli.
Remember to also stop by their sake bar, where you can enjoy sake at low prices. You can have a cup of sake for only 100 yen! It’s like the sake-equivalent of the whisky bar of the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery.
Anyone up for a boat ride? But remember not to drink too much if you want to try boating in the rivers of Fushimi, as you probably don’t want to swim here. The boat ride takes around 50 minutes and you get to slowly make your way almost to the bigger Uji River, and then back, but first you get to visit a small museum that tells about the history of the area of Fushimi Chushojima.
It’s better to make a reservation, but you could try to join a boat ride on the day, as they sometimes have free seats on the boat.
Boat rides in 2018: March 24 to December 2.
Terada is an inn that burnt down once during the Meiji period but was built again in the same place. The inn is famed for its relations with the historical figure of Sakamoto Ryoma, who was active during the Meiji Restoration period of Japanese history. This is the place where the Bakufu loyalists tried to assassinate him.
There is a statue of Ryoma in front of the inn too.
Kitagawahonke Okinaya is a sake shop with a specialty: they have a sake tap! So you can buy fresh sake from the tap here, and you can even taste some before you decide to buy, to get the freshest possible sake. Note that as the sake is fresh, it won’t keep good as long as normally bottled sake. But the taste is different too! They also sell rice, so if you happen to live in Kyoto, this is a nice place to buy the rice for your daily meals.
This is not a normal bar, but more of a bar complex, that contains many sake bars, and even many restaurants, serving things like sushi, ramen, and even Italian food.
But the main part here has to be the sake set you can get here: you get 17 glasses of sake! There are really many types of sake made here in Fushimi Chushojima, but by getting this set, you’ll pretty much get to know what sake is about. For a sake connoisseur, this set should become the reason why you need to go to Fushimi Chushoijima; it’s that good. The set is only 1,700 yen, so you’re only paying 100 yen per glass of sake. There is also a ramen restaurant in Fushimi Sakagura Koji, and if you’ve been out drinking in Japan, you probably already know what shime is – it’s the last snack of the night, and it usually is ramen. Just here the ramen actually contains sake dregs, so you can enjoy the taste of sake all through the end – all through to the shime!
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