New Landmark in Old Sake Town “Fushimi”
Fushimi ward is one of the eleven wards of City of Kyoto, located just a couple of miles down to the south from JR Kyoto Station. It is well-known as a town where Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine stands. I think the great majority of tourists heading to this small town are for visiting this world famous shrine, but the town has a different face – a holy ground for Sake lovers.
Premium Japanese Sake’s brewed in town
Fushimi Sakagura Kouji is located right in the Sake breweries’ district – Gekkeikan, Kizakura, Saito, etc. are all within walking distance. It is a Sake bar serving premium Sakes brewed by 17 local Sake breweries in Fushimi ward, meaning we can taste most of the premium Fushimi Sake’s without visiting each brewery ! I visited there with my friends last week for the first time, and I instantly fell in love with this place. The main feature of the space is a large Sake bar counter (beautiful !) with various tenant Izakaya’s standing along it.
The system deployed there is very unique. Those who sit in the Sake bar counter can order any of the premium Sake’s from the bar, but the foods have to be ordered from the catering menu (limited menu) of each tenant Izakaya. You can order Sushi’s from Sushi Izakaya, Chicken skewers from BBQ Izakaya, slices of Prosciutto from Italian Izakaya, or even Ramen noodles from Ramen Izakaya. Meanwhile, those who sit in one of those tenant Izakaya’s can order any food from the full menu and whatever beverage offered by the Izakaya. If you want to try premium Sake’s from Sake bar while sitting in a tenant Izakaya, you can still order them from the Sake bar, but the menu is limited. Sake bar counter is usually packed and reservations are MUST when it comes to weekend evenings, but no worry – there are usually open tables at some of the Izakaya’s. Drink some beer there with a couple of appetizers waiting for a chance of hopping to the Sake bar.
Samplers of 17 different premium Sake’s
When I sit in the Sake bar, I ordered “17 Sake Samplers”. Premium seasonal Sake’s selected from the 17 Sake breweries are served in tasting size glasses lined up in a wooden partition tray. Yen 1,700. If you find your favorite Sake out of the 17 samplers, you may want to order it in small or large glass separately. Besides the 17 Sake Sampler, they also offer other samplers such as 3 types of Sake from a single brewery or 3 similar types of Sake from 3 different breweries, etc. If you know what you really want to drink, you can just order a large glass of it…
Fushimi Sakagura Kouji is open for lunch, too. Obviously, many of the guests sitting in the Sake bar drink Sake even at lunch.
You can spend one full day in the area
BTW, this Sake lovers’ paradise is tacked away on the side road from a quaint shopping arcade which begins from Fushimi Momoyama Station (Keihan Line). There are lots of retro looking restaurants, cafes and shops on both sides of the arcade, representing rustic taste of town of Sake. Take a walk around before or after sipping some Sake at Fushimi Sakagura Kouji.
If you are interested in Sake history and Sake brewing process, I suggest that you stop at Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum which is about 10 min. walk from Fushimi Sakagura Kouji. You can see traditional Sake brewing equipment in the museum. Kizakura Kappa Country, operated by Kizakura Sake brewery, is also nearby – there is a small museum of Sake, a good size patio where you can taste Sake’s and locally brewed Beers, and a full-serviced restaurant.