Saijo: A Sake Day Trip From Hiroshima
By Lisa Hong
The classic Hiroshima visit includes the Peace Memorial Museum and Park, Atomic Bomb Dome, and Miyajima. To add another spot to your list, try a day trip to a little Sake brewing town called Saijo. Just 40 minutes away by local train, this town provides you with a Sake walking map of all the local breweries.
To start your sake journey visit the tourist office just outside of the JR Saijo station. Here, they can provide you with a walking map in English. Now you are ready for your adventure!
Tastings are complimentary, but I usually purchase at least a small bottle to show the host that I appreciated the Sake. The map recommends this path….
1. Kamotsuru – A great first stop. You can view an informational video teaching you about how sake is brewed, see rice in its different milled stages, and taste a diverse range of Sake.
2. Fukubijin – Known for their “feminine Sake”, which is described as having a great body and clean finish.
3. Kamoizumi – Famous for their Junmai Gingo – unfiltered sake made from partially milled rice.
4. Kirei – Their Sake is mostly dry which is a good break from the sweeter Sake you’ll taste at the other breweries.
5. Saijotsuru – Award-winning unfiltered Sake.
6. Hakubotan – Their Sake is characterized as “clean” and “elegant”.
7. Sanyotsuru – Purchase their Five Sake Sampler – a pack of five 180 ml bottles of various types of Sake that they brew.
8. Kamoki – Offers unique “Malt Kamoki” – a reddish, full-bodied Sake, served on the rocks.
9. Sakurafubuki – A young crew who caters to a young clientele. Their Sake is enjoyed for its mild flavor and good aroma.
There are two reasons why the Sake in Saijo is amazing:
1) The abundance of clean, delicious, fresh water. There are wells sprinkled all over town, some that you will see flowing, and some you can drink from.
2) The brewers know what to do with their rice. It isn’t enough just to have good rice; some of these brewers existed since the early Edo period, so traditions on milling the rice have been passed down and still used today.
Before you leave, don’t forget to stop by any of the temples and shrines scattered along the path. Give a little prayer for Saijo to remain prosperous with good Sake!
From Hiroshima Station, take the JR Sanyo line (local) to the JR Saijo Station. An easy 40 minutes away from Hiroshima!
Website (in English): http://saijosake.com/
Festival Alert: Every October, Saijo holds their famous Sake Matsuri, a festival solely dedicated to Sake! This year, the festival will be held from Saturday, October 11 (10am – 8pm) – Sunday, October 12, 2014 (10am – 5pm).