A Visit to Masumi's Sake Brewery

Suwa Area

Visit one of Nagano's most well-known sake brewers and see how they make this traditional beverage first-hand.

With over nine breweries that have been producing high-quality sake for centuries, the Suwa area can be counted among the top sake destinations in Japan.

Thanks to its closeness to the mountains, this region is rich in pure water, which is the secret to the taste and fragrance of local labels.

One of the nine breweries here, Masumi, has opened its doors to visitors. You can now join an exclusive tour inside the heart of the brewery to see the sake artisans at work. Masumi has a long history that goes back 300 years, which is apparent from the moment you step into the brewery. The Masumi brand is very well-known in Japan, and you can find their products in many shops all over the country.

Tour Masumi's Sake Brewery

Masumi's sake brewers prepare steamed rice to be laced with koji.

The tour starts early in the morning when most of the action takes place. Together with an English-speaking guide, you can walk through the brewery and observe the various phases of production, such as rice steaming, yeast starter making, koji making, and fermentation.

The delicious aroma of sake wafts through the air as the fermenting mash is mixed.

During this tour, you’ll experience Japan's most iconic beverage using all of your senses. Feel the change in temperature inside the different rooms, smell the fragrance of steamed rice and fermenting mash, listen to the fizzling sound of the microorganisms working their magic and, of course, taste the yeast starter koji rice and—if it’s filtering day—sake lees.

End the Tour with a Tasting of Masumi's Sake


The morning concludes with a tasting of different sake labels by Masumi. Unless you are an expert, picking the right bottle among a wide selection of great sake can be a little daunting. During the tasting, the guide will not only introduce each sake present on the list, they will also give you the means to read the label so that you know what to look for.

Sake comes in many varieties, often distinguished by rice-polishing rate.

You might have heard the words junmai, ginjo, daiginjo used in reference to sake before. They refer to the degree of polishing of the rice and give potential buyers an idea of what the sake might taste like. To better understand how the degree of polishing influences the final flavor, the brewery offers three samples of the rice flour obtained through the polishing process to make junmai, ginjo, and daiginjo. One lick of each of the different flours and you’ll suddenly understand this sake jargon more clearly.

There are fixed dates for the tour, but it is possible to request a visit outside these days as well.

Please note that the tour is only available to adults over the age of 20.


Masumi Sake Brewery Experience

Operating Period October to January
Time 8:50 to 10:50
Reservations Necessary (via Chino Tabi Website)
Price 4,000 yen per person (excluding tax)


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