A master brewer making liquor at Ayu Masamune Brewery

Land of Snow, Sake Brewery Tour
The city of Myoko in Niigata Prefecture, Japan, where Lotte Arai Resort is located is blessed with snowfall. Snow provides the best environment for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding, and when the snow melts in Spring, it provides clean, soft water adequate for agricultural purposes. The blessing of the snow culminates in the production of fragrant sake.
Situated in the center of the Japanese Islands reaching 2,454 meters above the sea level, Mount Myoko boasts a beautiful landscape, having joined the list of 100 Famous Japanese Mountains. Named after the mountain, the city of Myoko also includes magnificent highlands and foothills stretching towards the East Sea. The average annual snowfall in Myoko, home of Lotte Arai Resort, is over 10 meters. Locals have accepted the snow as a blessing and part of their lives. Above all, the snow-covered mountain range presents a breathtaking scenery and environment where winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding can be enjoyed. The thick layer of snow accumulated throughout the winter is also useful, come springtime. The water from the melting snow provides clean, soft water adequate for agriculture. Steamed rice cooked with the locally grown sweet, sticky rice is a delicacy on its own. By adding some seafood freshly caught from the East Sea and seasonal vegetables to a bowl of Myoko rice, you can easily come up with a feast. For travelers seeking to go an extra mile to find a vacation spot offering both sports and gourmet food in a peaceful surroundings, Myoko is a gift of nature and perfect destination.

Area producing rice for Chiyonohikari Brewery

Japan’s Best Sake Brewed in Earnestness
The clean water, delicious rice, and the long winter of Myoko, Niigata Prefecture, have led to the invention of alcoholic beverage. Niigata Prefecture where Myoko is located has some 190 sake brands and proudly holds the biggest sake festival in Japan called “Niigata Sake No Jin” every year.
Widely known as sake, Japan’s traditional alcoholic beverage is technically refined rice wine. Junmai, among others, is brewed using only rice, koji, yeast and the water, without adding distilled alcohol or artificial fragrance. In making sake, only the core of rice grains is used. There are different grades of sake depending on how much these grains were ground, including Daiginjo(below 50% rice polishing rate), Ginjo(below 60% rice polishing rate) and Honjozo(below 70% rice polishing rate). The smaller the grains are, the cleaner the flavor gets. Hence lower numbers mean higher quality products. Junmai Daiginjo, which is considered to be the best sake product, indicates that the beverage is pure with no additives, using the rice grains with less than 50% remaining.

(Left) Kiminoi Brewery's Junmai, (Right) Chiyonohikari Brewery's Mochigome Junmai

Sake Brewery Tour, a Theme Tour in Myoko
Some of Japan’s historic breweries with top quality sake products can be easily found in Myoko. Why not experience the traditional sake manufacturing process at a 150-year-old brewery while relishing the tranquil atmosphere where time seems to stand still?

Chiyonohikari Brewery's distillery

Chiyonohikari Shuzo
Opened in 1860, Chiyonohikari Brewery uses rice grains with below 60% polishing rate for a cleaner, more refined flavor of their product. They insist on using only the organic rice grown without relying on chemical agents or fertilizers, before adding the water from 1,429-meter-high Mount Okenashi to produce sake. Mochi Gome Junmai, handcrafted using sticky rice, is available exclusively at Chiyonohikari Shuzo. A visit to the brewery will offer a chance to see the entire making process, from milling, fermentation, aging to packaging. Tours must be scheduled in advance by phone, and up to five visitors are allowed to participate in the tour.
Address: 656 Kubomatsubara, Myoko, Niigata Prefecture (13-minute drive from Lotte Arai Resort)
Phone: +81-255-72-2814
Tour hours: 9 am - 4 pm

Kiminoi Brewery's distillery

Kiminoi Shuzo
Kiminoi Shuzo has a long-standing history and records of presenting sake to the Japanese emperor in the late Edo period. As much as they made effort to preserve the traditional technique of producing sake, they’ve also tried to keep up with the changing world by introducing cutting-edge machinery and renovating the historic wooden building with steel concrete reinforcements. They also use top quality ingredients, being situated near Mount Myoko which offers clean water and the crop fields where the premium Koshihikari rice is grown. Their signature product is also Junmai which has great umami and fitting acidity formed through over 60 days of fermentation. Their tour facility looks like a museum where the history of the distillery and unique sake making techniques are introduced. It is open to the public but it’s best to confirm the date and hour of the visit to avoid closing day.

Address: 3-11 Shitamachi, Myoko, Niigata Prefecture
(18-minute drive from Lotte Arai Resort)
Phone: +81-255-72-3136
Tour hours: 8:30 am - 6 pm


A master brewer making liquor at Kiminoi Brewery

Ayumasamune Brewery's distillery

Ayumasamune Shuzo
The word “ayu” of Ayumasamune means sweetfish that lives in fresh water. The name derives from the fact that royal families used to fish for sweetfish near the distillery a long time ago. Established in 1875, Ayumasamune Brewery offers a rare sighting of a natural spring on Mount Myoko, spouting six tons of water per hour. They use this water to make sake. Their products include refined rice wine made through the fermentation of rice and koji, distilled soju made by collecting the steam from boiling the sake, and amazake, Japanese sweet rice drink. They have a sampling stand for visitors and depending on the occasion, the spring could be also open for tour. They take up to 10 visitors with advance scheduling.

Address: 636 Oaza Saruhashi, Myoko, Niigata Prefecture
(30-minute drive from Lotte Arai Resort)
Phone: +81-255-75-2231
Tour hours: 9 am - 5 pm
(Closed on Sundays and holidays with occasional irregular closing)

A spring behind the distillery at Ayu Masamune Brewery

Myoko Sake Brewery

Myoko Shuzo
Built in 1815 in Joetsu, near Myoko, Myoko Shuzo brews sake using the soft spring water from Mount Myoko and the rice grown in and around Niigata Prefecture. They have won 11 gold medals at the Nationwide Annual Japan Sake Awards, the most respected sake show overseen by the National Tax Agency. Behind this glory is Masayuki Hirata, who is a “Meister” of the All-Japan Technicians Union, designated by the country’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare, and “Master Artisan of Niigata” chosen by Niigata Prefecture. His superior craftsmanship and sophisticated senses help maximize the original fragrance of rice and produce sake with a balanced flavor, enjoyable to people of all tastes. Tours are available with advance booking.

Address: 2-7-47 Minamihoncho, Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture
(30-minute drive from Lotte Arai Resort)
Tour hours: 8:15 am - 5 pm (Closed on Sundays and holidays)
Phone: +81-25-522-2111

Myoko Sake's factory director Masayuki Hirata

February 2019 Editor:Ha Jaekyung
Writer:Lee Yeeun

Where to stay?

  • February 2019
  • Editor: Ha Jaekyung
    Writer: Lee Yeeun
  • 트위터로 공유
  • 페이스북으로 공유
  • 핀터레스트로 공유
  • 링크URL 공유