Kobe's Nada (ĺ) district is Japan's top sake producing region. It has long been famous for its sake due to the availability of high quality rice, suitable water and favorable weather conditions in the area. Its proximity to Kobe Port and Osaka has also facilitated physical distribution since olden times.
Many sake breweries operate in the Nada district, which stretches approximately three kilometers east to west. Some open stores and/or exhibition rooms to the public and allow guests to taste their sake. A couple of them also maintain a museum introducing the process of sake brewing.
The district makes for a good half-day walk exploring its nice mix of older buildings and modern breweries. If time is limited, we recommend visiting the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum: its well-presented exhibits have comprehensive English coverage and sake tasting is available, too.
Sawanotsuru Sake Museum
Hours: 10:00 to 16:00 Closed: Wednesdays, Obon and New Year holidays Admission: Free
Sawanotsuru Sake Museum was opened in 1978 with the aim of commemorating the sake-brewing heritage of the Nada district. It was destroyed by the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 and was subsequently rebuilt in 1999. Visitors can learn about traditional brewing methods and the ingredients involved. English pamphlets are available.
Kobe Konan Muko no Sato
Hours: 10:00 to 17:00 (Shop opens from 9:30 to 18:30) Closed: December 29 to January 5 Admission: Free
Rather than sake itself, foodstuff, condiments and pickles that are made with sake lees (sake leftovers after filtering) are the focus here. Kobe Konan Muko no Sato has a small museum which showcases different varieties of pickles and their making process. It also has a couple of restaurants and a big shop which sells a huge range of food which make good sake accompaniments.
Kobe Shushinkan Brewery
Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 Closed: New Year holidays Admission: Free
Shushinkan has a large shop selling sake and sake-related products, as well as a restaurant serving Japanese cuisine in combination with sake. Free guided tours of the sake warehouse are available except in December and include sake tasting.
Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum
Hours: 9:30 to 16:30 (entry until 16:00) Closed: Obon and New Year holidays Admission: Free
Good exhibits with life-sized replicas and models are presented at the Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum, a traditional building on the large grounds of a modern sake factory. The museum maintains a nice ambience and offers good English pamphlets and video clips explaining the sake brewing process. Sake tasting is available at its shop.
Kikumasamune Sake Museum
Hours: 9:30 to 16:30 (admissions until 16:00) Closed: New Year holidays Admission: Free
Kikumasamune Sake Museum is housed in a nice wooden-plaster building. Wooden tools, containers and machinery are exhibited in a room accompanied by atmospheric lighting and traditional music.
Hours: 10:00 to 19:00 Closed: Tuesdays Admission: Free
Sakuramasamune has a small exhibition space which showcases some tools and simple machines used in the past for sake production. There is also a video presentation showing clips of its traditional brewing process. Sake tasting is available at a shop selling its sake brews. There is limited English information at this location.
Hamafukutsuru has won several awards for its high-grade "ginjo" sake. The exhibition space on the second level of the building explains to guests their sake brewing process through diagrams and written information (English available). Visitors are also able to peer through windows to look at brewing machines as they are being used.
Getting there and around
Hanshin Railways, Hankyu Railways, and the JR Tokaido Line run parallel north of the Nada district, offering connections to both Kobe and Osaka. The stations on the Hanshin Line are the closest to the district and its attractions.
You may choose to start exploration of the district from any of the stations along it. The Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum can be reached in five minutes on foot from Sumiyoshi Station on the Hanshin Railways Line (10 minutes, 190 yen from Sannomiya Station). Japan Rail Pass holders may want to alight at JR Sumiyoshi Station (8 minutes from JR Sannomiya Station), from where it is a 15-20 minute walk to Hakutsuru.