Kobe, the world’s sake capital


Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture is not only famous for beef, but it also includes part of the Nada Gogo, or “Five villages of Nada,” that became famous for brewing sake centuries ago. Nada sake uses the area’s relatively hard water and high-quality Hyogo-grown rice to offer richer flavors and lots of body, and was the origin of many brewing techniques still in use today.

Kobe breweries, including behemoths like Hakutsuru – which has over 280 years of history – collectively account for the largest production of sake in the world. Many have museums, like the Hakutsuru Sake Brewing Museum, a huge facility displaying traditional tools, videos and dioramas exploring the history of sake brewing, with information in English and other languages. Best of all, the museum includes plenty of souvenirs and a tasting area – with some free sake, and others that require a fee.

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