My Tokyo Guide
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Updated: November 4, 2022
Tokyo overflows with good sake and craft beer, but few people realize that the capital is blessed with spring water that is perfect for brewing. The purity of Tokyo water is the basis for high-quality, award-winning drinks, some of which have been brewed for centuries. This article will introduce a few of these centers of drinks craftsmanship.
Set in the mountains of the Okutama region of western Tokyo, Ozawa Brewery is in an idyllic spot on the Tama River only a few steps from JR Sawai Station. There’s a gourmet garden right above the jade-colored water where you can enjoy fine sake, soba noodles and other selections while watching rafters float by under the lush forest canopy. Though it looks like something out of a fantasy world, incredibly, it’s still part of Tokyo.
Ozawa has been making sake here for more than 300 years and is the eastmost brewery in Tokyo. Free sake tours take you into the heritage kura warehouse and brewery buildings, some of which are over 300 years old. The brewery’s symbol, which you’ll notice on some of its Sawanoi-brand labels, is a species of crab that is known for seeking out pure spring water. You can view the brewery’s spring water flowing through hand-cut tunnels leading 140 meters into the rocky slope behind the brewery. It’s not surprising that Shinto shimenawa ropes marking sacred objects adorn the kura entrance and the entrance to the spring tunnel.
Another tunnel leads under the road dividing the brewery from Sawanoi-en, a riverside garden. You’ll find a sake tasting room here where you can try 10 types of sake for 200 to 500 yen per cup. Ozawa’s offerings are led by Koh, made with 35%-milled Yamada Nishiki rice, which lends a fruity, complex flavor to the brew. A shop selling sake, tofu, and local confections, a restaurant specializing in tofu, and a snack shop with riverside tables round out the facilities. Just beyond the garden, a footbridge leads over the Tama River to picturesque Kanzanji Temple and riverside footpaths lead to the dramatic landscape of Mitake Gorge. From nature lovers to sake connoisseurs, Ozawa Brewery has something for everyone.
Sake Brewery Tour (Ozawa Shuzou Co., Ltd)
*While the tour will be conducted in Japanese, there will be an English pamphlet provided.
From Breweries to Bars—A Guide to Sake in Tokyo
Ishikawa Brewery is a gourmet’s paradise. Upon arrival, you’re greeted by the sight of towering keyaki (Japanese zelkova) trees by which mineral water used to make sake and craft beer is pumped from underground. The spring is surrounded by traditional tiled-roof Japanese kura warehouses, including six registered as National Heritage Sites. The overall atmosphere is more of a dining and drinking theme park set in the samurai age than a modern brewery.
Located close to the Tama River in Fussa, a city near the foothills of western Tokyo, Ishikawa Brewery is a roughly 20-minute walk or 8-minute taxi ride from JR Haijima Station. It began brewing sake in 1863 and continues to this day under the Tamajiman brand. In 1998, the brewery revived its beer production following a 111-year hiatus. Its current beer offerings include the popular Tama no Megumi, available in pale ale, pilsner and dunkel, as well as Tokyo Blues and vintage Japan Beer ales. You can learn about brewing history in the museum on the second floor of the Zougura building and tour the original kura warehouse buildings dating to the 19th and 20th centuries.
Aside from a sake and craft beer shop, you can also enjoy Ishikawa’s offerings at Fussa no Birugoya, an Italian eatery with indoor and outdoor seating that serves pizza, pasta and seasonal menu items. Enjoying beer and sake under the blossoms of the courtyard cherry trees in spring is an unforgettable delight.
Sake Brewery Tour (Ishikawa Brewery)
*For the time being, new reservations for a tour of the facilities have been cancelled.
From Breweries to Bars—A Guide to Sake in Tokyo
Pitmans at Lyuro Tokyo Kiyosumi by The Share Hotel
Kiyosubashi brewery serves various craft beers—including seasonal offerings—made at the hands of experts with water sourced from the Tokyo area. Just next door is Pitmans, a grill-style eatery located right on the Sumida River in central Tokyo where you can tuck into dishes like pulled pork, steak, clam chowder and homemade muffins and wash it all down with craft beer and specialty coffee.
Outside, the venue’s Kawa Terrace is a wooden observation and dining deck that’s open to the public as well as dogs. It’s ideal not only for quaffing the shop’s craft beers but also for admiring the elegant Kiyosu Bridge, which dates to 1928 and was Japan’s first self-anchored chain suspension bridge. The scene is even more spectacular at night when the bridge is illuminated.
*As of October 20, 2022 Kiyosubashi Brewery is not in operation. For the latest information, please check the official website.
LYURO Tokyo Kiyosumi by THE SHARE HOTELS