If you are looking for something to do in Kobe, I highly recommend you go on a Sake tasting tour.

Kobe’s sake breweries are located several kilometers west of Kobe Sannomiya and is roughly 15 min by train (from the city center) and another 15 min on foot.

Hyogo prefecture is the largest producer of Japanese Sake in Japan, and also the third-largest Sake brewery after Nigata(新潟県) and Nagano(長野県).

Being quite a big prefecture, variations in climate, soil and water quality are said to affect the raw material used in sake production in Hyogo. Along with each brewer’s individual sake production craft, this variation (in raw materials and production) gives the sake lovers an opportunity to sample a wide variety of sake produced from a single prefecture like Hyogo.

9 Sake brewery association in Hyogo

There are 9 Sake brewery association in Hyogo.

  • North Hyogo(北兵庫)
  • NadaGogou(灘五郷)I will show you this place today.
  • Kakogawa(加古川)
  • Yashiro(社)
  • Itami(伊丹)
  • Tanmba Sasayama(丹波篠山)
  • Akashi(明石)
  • Himeji(姫路)
  • Awaji (淡路)

Nadagogou(灘五郷)

With so many brewers, I will focus on my experience at Nadagogou (灘五郷) as it is one of the easiest brewers to access from Sannomiya station.

Nada (灘)means District, Go(五)means Five, and Gou(郷)means home

  • Mikagegou(御影郷)
  • Uozakigou(魚崎郷)
  • Nishigou(西郷)
  • Nishinomiyagou(西宮郷)
  • Imazugou(今津郷)

With 5 different areas within the Nada district, I will introduce the brewers in Mikagegou (御影郷) and Uozakigou (魚崎郷) today.

Shushinkan(酒心館)

 10am–7pm  078-841-1121   You need to make a reservation if you want to participate for course B.  https://enjoyfukuju.com/en/  1 Chome-8-17 Mikagetsukamachi, Higashinada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 658-0044

How to get here

From Sannomiya Station, take the Hanshin line heading towards Osaka and get off Ishiyagawa station. From the station, it is a 10min walk to Shushinkan.

When friends from Japan or overseas come to visit me, I always take them to Shushinkan as it tends to draw a lot of positive reviews and complements from many visitors, including my friends 🙂

Apart from Tour B (which you need to book in 2 days advance), anyone can take part in Tours A and C.

ReservationTime RequiredOpening HoursFee
A)Video / tasting / shoppingNot required
(Groups of 6 or more will need to contact in advance)
40min10am-6pm
(last entry is 5 pm)
Free
B)Video / brewery tour / tasting / shopping You need to make a reservation 2days prior.60minIndividuals From 11am(Max 20people)
Group (More than 10) 10am-6pm
Free
C)Tasting / shoppingNot required
(Groups of 20 or more will need to make a reservation)
30min10am-6pmFree

Make a reservation here

Unfortunately, the current museum is temporarily closed due to safety precautions in-place for the Corona Virus outbreak.

However, if you live in Japan and would like to enjoy their sake in the comfort of your own home, you can access their online store here (only in Japanese).

Have you ever seen or heard of the sake (blue bottle) fourth from left?

It became famous in 2008 when it was served at the Nobel Prize Award ceremony banquet. For me, I prefer to drink the sake in the green bottle (third from the left).

When I tried Course A and C in the past, this is what we had sampled.

Upon entry, inform the staff at reception which course you would like to take part in or if you already have a reservation. Information pamphlets​ are available in several languages at reception. Staff at reception will then guide you through your selected tour’s steps.

If you join course A, you will see a video on How to make Sake and the Fukuju Sake Brewery’s history.

After the video:

You can see examples of rice polishing ratios and then start your Sake tasting!

My friends from Italy, France, New Zealand, and Australia really enjoyed the sake tasting. They particularly enjoyed the Umeshu(梅酒/ Plum wine). I hope you can enjoy the free sake tasting and find some souvenirs for your loved ones.

If you want to drink more, no worries! There is a small bar for visitors to continue their sake experience. Kampai! (means Cheers in Japanese)

There is a big used sake barrel in the garden near the gate. It is so large you can easily sit three people abreast in half a barrel. How big is this?!

HAKUTSURU SAKE(白鶴)

 9:30am-4:30pm  http://www.hakutsuru.co.jp/english/  078-822-8907  

 4 Chome-5-5 Sumiyoshi Minamimachi, Higashinada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 658-0041

Reservations Time Required Opening HoursFee
Sake Brewery MuseumNot Required60min9:30am-4:30pm
(入館は16時まで)
Free

The closest station is Hanshin Sumiyoshi station and it is a 10min walk from the station.

This maker has a large museum dedicated to the brewing history of sake. You can see original brewing equipment set in recreated historical displays that have wax sculptures of workers as they would have looked in the early days of sake brewing.

It is a self-guided museum with video guides (in English or Japanese) in each section to help you understand the displays and the process of Sake brewing. I think it is worth a visit.

There is a place at the end of the museum where you can try on a Happi coat and pose in front of some traditional sake barrels to have your photo taken individually or as a group 🙂

As you exit the museum section, you will enter the sake tasting and souvenir venue. When you arrive at the tasting venue, the sake is already prepared in different cups to differentiate the available variety. It is a self-serve tasting tour, but the premise is for visitors to only sample each variety once. The onus is on the visitor to show etiquette and respect the brewery’s guidelines on free sake tasting.

I have a tip. If you are planning to buy a few bottles of Hakutsuru sake (and are not keen to carry them for too long as you make your way back to Sannomiya), you can go to Hakutsuru Mikage MUSE (store) at the Mikage Classe shopping center which is beside the Hanshin Mikage station. That way, you just have to carry them from Mikage Classe to the Hanshin Mikage station.

*However, please note, not all products sold at Hakutsuru Museum are available at Hakutsuru Mikage MUSE.

 Hakutsuru Mikage MUSE near Hanshin Mikage station

HAMAFUKUTSURU(浜福鶴)

 10am-5pm Monday closed  078-411-0492  https://www.hamafukutsuru.co.jp/index.html

 4 Chome-4-6 Uozaki Minamimachi, Higashinada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 658-0025

ReservationsTime Required Opening HoursFee
HamafukutsuruNot Required 60min10am-5pm
(入館は16時まで)
Free

The closest station is Hanshin Uozaki station and it is a 10min walk from the station.

In this brewery, you have the opportunity to view the Sake brewing operations from a visitor vantage point (separated via glass partition) in the factory.

Staffs are friendly and their store has a large variety of sake, food items, and souvenirs. There is a lot of free samples of their food items and, like other breweries, they have a small sake bar for an extended sake sampling experience (at a fee).

If you have limited time allocated for sake tasting, I suggest you come here to sample sake, learn about the brewing process and have the opportunity to buy some souvenirs. Doesn’t that sound perfect? 🙂

They also have some original products like non-alcohol sweet sake, jellies and unique snacks.

This brewery has a unique sake that is aged in a sherry barrel giving it a whiskey-like flavor. Some other brewers in the industry have been trialing this process with varying levels of success.

Sakuramasamune(櫻正宗)

 10am – 7pm  078-436-3030  https://www.sakuramasamune.co.jp/english/

 4 Chome-3-18 Uozaki Minamimachi, Higashinada Ward, Kobe, Hyogo 658-0025

ReservationsTime RequiredOpening HoursFee
SakuraenNot Required60min10am-7pmFree

The nearest station is Hanshin Uozaki Station, which is less than 10 minutes south of the station. It is actually less than 5 minutes away on foot from Hamafukutsuru (as introduced above).

Here you can see videos on the brewing process and brewing equipment on display.

There is also a comparison of paid tastings, and there are also “Sakura Feast” (dining), “Sanpaiya” (drink), and cafe (café), so I think that it is good for those who want to relax.