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The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery (Tg[R, Santorī Yamazaki Jōryūsho) is a whisky distillery in the Yamazaki district near Kyoto. Opened in 1923, the distillery produces Suntory's flagship line of Yamazaki single malt whiskies, which have won many international awards.

The Yamazaki Distillery is surrounded by nature and greenery in a quiet and serene district that has long been known for its quality water, a key ingredient to great tasting whisky. The entire process of whisky distillation and aging is done here. A museum and distillery tours are available to tourists; however, prior reservations are required for a visit.

The Yamazaki Whisky Museum is a two-story building that introduces the Suntory company, its founder, Shinjiro Torii, and its history and products. The whisky distillation process is explained on the museum's second floor with miniature models of the equipment. English descriptions are provided. There is also a gift shop on the second floor, offering whisky-related snacks and goods, as well as small bottles of un-aged whisky.

On the ground floor is a whisky library, showcasing the wide variety of whiskies in various shades of brown, yellow and gold. A cash-only tasting counter can be found on the same level, and visitors are welcome to sample a dram of any of the whiskies. Menus are available in both English and Japanese. Prices per dram vary, starting from around 500 yen.

The distillation process can only be viewed on guided tours that allow for entry into the otherwise sealed-off premises. Once in the distillery, the air changes noticeably to smell like sake at first before changing to whisky notes towards the end of the tour. Visitors are brought through the plant in chronological order of whisky-making, starting in the mashing area, then continuing to the fermentation washbacks and the large pot stills used for distillation, before inspecting the warehouse where the casked whiskies are allowed to mature and age.

The tour ends with a whisky tasting session which explains the differences between single malt whiskies and how to enjoy whisky. The entire tour takes about 80 minutes. Visitors who join the tour are free to visit the Yamazaki Whisky Museum before or after their tour. The tour is conducted in Japanese, but audio guides in English, Mandarin and French are also available.

Getting there and around

The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery is located in the Yamazaki district near Kyoto. It can be reached in about ten minutes on foot from either the Yamazaki Station on the JR Kyoto Line (15 minutes, 220 yen one way from Kyoto Station; or 30 minutes, 470 yen one way from Osaka Station) or the Oyamazaki Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line (30 minutes, 270 yen one way from Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station; or about 35 minutes, 320 yen one way from Hankyu Osaka-Umeda Station).

How to get to and around Kyoto

Hours and Fees

Both the guided tour and entry to the museum require prior reservations which can be made online or over the phone in English or Japanese from two to three months in advance.

Guided tours cost 1000 yen per person (paid on the day of the visit). Tours are held multiple times per day and tend to book out quickly on weekends, public holidays and during popular travel seasons. It is advisable to book early to get your preferred date and timeslot. Participants have to arrive at least 15 minutes before their tour starts to complete payment and registration.

Entry to the Yamazaki Whisky Museum is free. If you are not joining a guided tour, advance reservations for visiting the museum must be made for a specific date and timeslot. Unlike the distillery tours, museum entry reservations rarely book out. Visitors who have a reservation for a distillery tour can view the museum without additional reservation.

Hotels around Kyoto

Top rated in Kyoto
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    • Guesthouse Engawa
      Budget-friendly
      Guesthouse Engawa offers accommodation in Kyoto. Guests can relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of Kyoto in their rooms. Each comes with a flat-screen TV, and an electric kettle will be provided upon request. Bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. Free toiletries and hairdryers are also available. There is luggage storage space at the property. Kiyomizu-dera Temple is 600 metres from Guesthouse Engawa, while Heian Shrine is 2.4 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS
      Budget-friendly
      Located in Kyoto, this traditional Japanese guest house features free Wi-Fi and a free public computer. Shichijo Onmae bus stop is 3 minutesf walk away. A seating area and shared bathroom are provided with each room at Guesthouse KYOTO COMPASS. Free toiletries are provided and blankets are available upon request. Select rooms have a garden view. A shared living area and bicycles are available for guestsf use during their stay at this Kyoto Guesthouse Compass. Access to the shared kitchen is available upon request. The guest house is 4.5 km from Imperial Palace and 2.2 km from Kyoto Station. Nijo Castle and Toji Castle are within a 30 minutesf bus ride away.
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    • Ryokan Mugen (Adult Only)
      Mid-range
      Mugen is a property that was built 160 years ago, situated in Kyoto, 1 km from Nijo Castle. Every room at Mugen features an en suite shower room, toilet, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Free WiFi is available throughout the entire property. You will find a shared lounge on site and a bar at the annex building. The ryokan also offers bike hire. Imperial Palace is 1.1 km from Mugen, while Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is 1.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Osaka Itami Airport, 39 km from the property.
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    • Gallery Nozawa Inn
      Budget-friendly
      Gallery Nozawa Inn offers accommodation in Kyoto, 25 minutes on foot from JR Kyoto Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. Every room includes a flat-screen TV and air conditioning. Each room is equipped with a private toilet, and bathrooms are shared. For your comfort, you will find free toiletries and a hairdryer. There is luggage storage space at the property. Guests can sample Japanese-style breakfast featuring seasonal ingredients. There is a public bathhouse located a 10-minute walk away. Nijo Castle is 2.4 km from Gallery Nozawa Inn, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.4 km from the property. Osaka Itami Airport is 36 km away.
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    • Guesthouse tu casa
      Budget-friendly
      Attractively located in the Higashiyama Ward district of Kyoto, Guesthouse tu casa is situated 1.2 km from Sanjusangen-do Temple, 1.4 km from Kiyomizu-dera Temple and 1.9 km from TKP Garden City Kyoto. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and a shared lounge, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The guest house has family rooms. At the guest house rooms are equipped with a shared bathroom. Samurai Kembu Kyoto is 2.2 km from Guesthouse tu casa, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • Mitsuki Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      Set in Kyoto, within 600 metres of Kyoto International Manga Museum and 1.7 km of Nijo Castle, Mitsuki Kyoto offers accommodation with a garden and free WiFi throughout the property. The property is located 2.1 km from Kyoto Imperial Palace, 2.3 km from Heian Shrine and 2.3 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto. The accommodation provides a concierge service, ticket service and luggage storage for guests. At the ryokan every room has a private bathroom. An Asian breakfast is available every morning at Mitsuki Kyoto. Guests at the accommodation will be able to enjoy activities in and around Kyoto, like cycling. Shoren-in Temple is 3.2 km from Mitsuki Kyoto, while TKP Garden City Kyoto is 3.4 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 39 km from the ryokan.
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    • Guest House Oumi
      Budget-friendly
      Well set in Kyoto, Guest House Oumi provides air-conditioned rooms, a shared lounge, free WiFi and a garden. Featuring family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation offers a shared kitchen and room service for guests. At the guest house every room comes with a shared bathroom with free toiletries. A continental breakfast is available daily at guesthouseoumi. Nijo Castle is less than 1 km from the accommodation, while Kyoto International Manga Museum is 2.2 km away. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 37 km from Guest House Oumi.
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    • Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie
      Luxury
      Ideally situated in the Shimogyo Ward district of Kyoto, Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandereverie is situated 1.3 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum, 1.9 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto and 2.3 km from TKP Garden City Kyoto. Boasting family rooms, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The accommodation features a 24-hour front desk, a concierge service and luggage storage for guests. All rooms are fitted with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, a kettle, a bidet, a hairdryer and a wardrobe. Featuring a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at the hotel also feature free WiFi. Shoren-in Temple is 2.7 km from Kyoto Shijo Takakura Hotel Grandere, while Nijo Castle is 2.8 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • IMAYA Hostel Kyoto
      Budget-friendly
      Attractively situated in the centre of Kyoto, IMAYA Hostel Kyoto features air-conditioned rooms, a bar, free WiFi and a shared lounge. The property is around less than 1 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum, a 16-minute walk from Nijo Castle and 2.4 km from Samurai Kembu Kyoto. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen, a concierge service and ticket service for guests. The rooms at the hostel are fitted with a flat-screen TV and a kitchenette. The shared bathroom is fitted with a bidet, a hairdryer and free toiletries. All guest rooms will provide guests with a microwave. Kyoto Imperial Palace is 2.9 km from IMAYA Hostel Kyoto, while Heian Shrine is 3.1 km from the property. The nearest airport is Itami Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • Ryokan Tori
      Mid-range
      Ryokan Tori is located in Kyoto, 2 km from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. The property is around 2.3 km from Nijo Castle and Kyoto Imperial Palace. The property is 3.2 km from Kinkaku-ji Temple and 3.7 km from Kyoto International Manga Museum. All guest rooms in the ryokan are fitted with a kettle. Each room has a shared bathroom, while selected rooms are fitted with a balcony and others also offer a garden view. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at tori can enjoy an Asian breakfast. Heian Shrine is 5 km from the accommodation. Itami Airport is 50 km from the property.
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