I had a pleasure of visiting Watanabe Sahei Shoten (Watanabesahei sake brewery) in Nikko city, Tochigi prefecture last month with my sake friends and I’d like to share my experience.
Some might think Tochigi prefecture is far but it was only 2 hours away and it was not too far from Tokyo and has lots to offer. From a tourist perspective, I highly recommend people to visit the UNESCO world heritage site Nikko (very famous for Toshogu for sure) and Watanabe Sahei Shoten is very conveniently located, only a station away from Nikko and walking distance from either Shimo-Imaichi station or Imaichi station depending on where you are. Their google map is here so you might want to check it out how far it is from your location.
First of all, if you follow my instagram, sakeloversjapan – you have already seen my Instagram post there which I posted immediately after my visit.
Watanabesahei was founded in 1842 and has been brewing sake for over 180 years and we were guided by Yasuhiro Watanabe, the seventh generation of the brewery. For those who worries about not being able to speak or understand Japanese, fear not! Yasuhiro-san studied English in Australia when he was high school student so his English is pretty good so you won’t have any problem communicating with him. In fact, for my foreign national sake friends from Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Singapore – he kindly explained everything in English. Also the sake making process is written in English so it is very impressive to me who has seen many breweries without English description.
Characteristics about their sake is, 90% of their sake is Junmai.
These 4 sake which we tasted were all fantastic. It took a while to open this Kassei Nigori sake (bubbly and a bit cloudy red, using ancient wild rice) but wow. It was very different from the other ancient wild rice sake which we tasted before. Very different, acidic and tasty. 25 year old aged sake was delicious too.
For those who are interested in the sake tour, you can contact Watanabesahei Shoten directly and enjoy the same experience we had.
Special thanks to Nearby Tokyo https://nearbytokyo.com/watanabesahei-sake-brewery/ for providing information and go check it out if you want to know more about nearbytokyo.com!
If you are interested in sake tours around Tochigi, you can check out https://sakevoyage.com/