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Take a Sake Brewery Tour in Niigata, Japan

Published by Trevor

Country: Japan

The Experience

The sake breweries of Niigata are one of the most interesting world travel destinations. Even those of us lucky enough to have been to many places have to admit, it's easy to get swept up by the vast beauty of the rice fields that are kept in order to create that characteristic Japanese drink, sake. And there are no less than 96 sake breweries in this area of Japan alone.

The sake itself is delightful. In fact, it is known throughout Japan for the light colour it has, as well as its delicate flavour. I’m no sake connoisseur, but Niigata sake is like something I’ve never tasted before. They say what gives the sake from this area its distinct taste is the fact that the rice fields are hit with snow every winter. Indeed, there does seem to be a crispness to the sakes that you don’t find anywhere else. There is also a pureness of flavour. No wonder this is the country’s third-largest manufacturer of sake.

Despite the characteristics shared by Niigata sake, it must be said that sake tastings are great events precisely because of the variety available for tasting. With 96 sake breweries brewing 96 different sakes, the array can be overwhelming. The sake breweries are broken over four main areas Kaetus, Chuetsu, Joetsu and Sadu Island. With Kaetus and Chuetsu being the most central they hold the bulk of the locations, including premium brands such as Taiyo Sake, Miyao Sake and Kikusui Sake. What’s great is that it doesn’t cost too much to get a taste of a variety of sakes. You can find deals around town that will get you a sample for a marginal amount of yen. If you dedicate your trip to it you can make a valiant attempt to try all of the sakes. Just be careful!

When to Go to Sake Brewery Niigata

The climate in this area of Japan is such that the warmest month is August, with July coming in a close second. During these months Niigata is a fairly hot place to be, with average temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius and beyond. Of course, this is pretty much the best time to see the rice fields and sake breweries, so those travellers who have an aversion to heat should be careful to prepare. The coldest months in Niigata are January and February. With an average temperature in these months that hovers around -1, the winters here are cold without being mortifying. The most precipitous month in this area of Japan tends to be December, with a rain and snowfall that regularly comes in over 215 millimetres.

Cheap flights to Niigata are not difficult to find, by and large. The Niigata Airport, which has international flight activity, is located only a few kilometres away from the sake breweries, so that it is not a difficult distance to drive.

Odds n' Ends

There are several tours of the Niigata sake breweries to choose from, and these tours tend to be the best way to get the full experience with the lovely landscape as well as the history.

As this area is quite rustic, there are many country-style lodgings available. These tend to be fairly pricey. If you’re a diligent shopper for hotels, you will probably be able to find something within your price range.

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