Do you know how many sake breweries there are in Japan?
Blessed with delicious rice and water, many exist all over Japan.
There are 1371 sake breweries and over 10,000 sake brands in Japan. While this might sound like a lot, the consumption of sake has been dwindling each year. The reality is that there were 2000 breweries in the year 2000, but over a span of 20 years, 1 was shut down every 10 days. On the other hand, sake is becoming more popular overseas and each remaining brewery is seeing a rise in sales.
Each brewery and brand’s sake taste and smell different, however, location plays a large role. Sake brewed in colder areas are drier and sake brewed in warmer areas are sweeter.
Here are the top 10 prefectures with the most sake breweries in Japan:
1. Niigata – 89
2. Nagano – 75
3. Hyogo – 68
4. Fukushima – 59
5. Fukuoka – 56
6. Yamagata – 51
7. Aichi – 42
8. Hiroshima – 41
8. Ehime – 41
10. Gifu – 40
Red = Sweet sake
Blue = Dry sake
Niigata prefecture leads Japan with the most breweries and also produces the most rice. Famous for rice means famous for sake. Niigata’s sake is tanrei karakuchi, having a crisp and smooth flavor.
Nagano prefecture, falling in 2nd place, has the perfect green environment with clean water to make sake. Their sake is nojun amakuchi, meaning its taste is complex and rich.
At 3rd place is Hyogo, which stands at the top for producing the best rice for sake brewing, Yamada Nishiki. Hyogo’s nojun karakuchi flavored sake is full-bodied yet has a refreshing after taste.
As you can see, sake from each region has distinctive characteristics, making choosing one exciting.
Many breweries offer tours to give people more depth about sake.
There are places where you can see how sake is made and places where you can even sample drinks.
Tokyo, the most populated region of Japan, also has 10 breweries, some which offer tours.
It might be fun to schedule a day to tour a sake brewery when you come to Japan!