A historic Hokkaido sake brewery tour

HOKKAIDO A 113-year-old sake brewery in Asahikawa City – a smooth two-hour drive from Sapporo – welcomes company visits with a tour that sheds light on the making of Japan’s national drink and winds up with a tasting session of its signature products.

The Asahikawa Takasago Sake Brewery that operates from one of the city’s oldest reinforced buildings (circa 1929) is admittedly not as large as some of its competitors that produce sake all year round with the help of more extensive infrastructure. A spokesperson told Mix during a recent factory inspection that they preferred to follow the traditional method of making sake during the winter months from November to March, working with a skeleton staff during the other months.

He added that using Hokkaido’s naturally cold climate during the winter season to ferment the brew “made it more delicious”.

After the plant tour, which includes quick commentaries on the history of sake, its ingredients and various processes of turning the blend of milled rice and water into “the gift of the gods to human beings”, the group heads for a low building across the road. This is the site of the original factory that currently houses the souvenir store, historical displays, sake paraphernalia such as cups, and flasks and even an ice-room where a green metal tank can be seen covered in snow, which is another method of maintaining quality sake standards.

Highlight of the tour – the tasting – takes place in a room in the shop, showcasing various awards garnered by the company’s labels as well as media write ups and images of long-gone officials and employees. Around 30 people can be seated comfortably in this space.

For more about the brewery, visit www.takasagoshuo.com (Japanese only)

Margie T Logarta 


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