Visiting Kitanishi Sake Brewery in Ageo city, Saitama
Hello everyone, this is Love Saitama Ambassador Jessica! The other day I visited a delicious Japanese sake maker called Kitanishi Sake Brewery, located in Ageo City!
Have you heard of nihonshu? Otherwise known as Japanese sake? Nihonshu is gaining enormous popularity all over the world for it’s tasty flavours and smooth texture that make it very easy to drink.
I myself really appreciate a good nihonshu and today I’m going to introduce you to a nihonshu producer called Kitanishi Sake Brewery, whose brand “Bunraku” is hugely popular with locals and people all over the world!
Located in Ageo City, the Kitanishi Sake Brewery is about a 10 minute walk from Ageo station.
Departing from Shinjuku station on the Shonan Shinjuku Line it takes about 39 minutes to reach Ageo station.
After you come out of the Ageo Station wicket gates (picture below:)you turn right.
After turning right if you look up a little you will see the yellow [for East Exit] sign. Please head in that direction.
To your right hand is a building with large silver letters that spell: HARICOTS VERTS. Please head towards this building.
Here you will come to stairs and a sign that says 5.6.With bus picture and an arrow pointing down.
Please take the stairs down to street level and turn left. The road ahead will look like below.Continue on this road straight for 6 or 7 minutes and you will come to the brewery located on the right hand side of the road.
You’ve arrived! The large charcoal grey building on the right hand side is one of the brewery buildings! Let’s go!
Kitanishi Sake Brewery is a family owned and operated nihonshu producer that was founded in 1887. The name of their signature brand “Bunraku” comes from the traditional Japanese performing art which the brewery founder loved so much. The performing art combines narration, puppetry and shamisen, (a traditional Japanese string instrument) whereas making nihonshu combines the very important elements of pure water, carefully grown rice and special craftsmanship.
The brewery has a specific method of making nihonshu, where the rice is carefully grown and selected from different areas depending on the climate and that season’s crop. Fresh and pure water is sourced from the Chichibu area of Saitama, well known for its fresh air and green mountain ranges. The picture below shows one part of the process that they undertake in the making of their nihonshu:
Kitanishi Sake Brewery unfortunately do not have tours available however to the left and right of the main office are a special restaurant and their retail shop, “Juichi-ya Saketen”. Let’s go and have a look at the restaurant first!
The streamlined charcoal grey building pictured below is a soba noodle restaurant called Azumagura.
As we walk a little closer we can see the entrance to the restaurant and the noren (traditional entranceway hanging cloths ) that bear the name of the restaurant.
Azumagura is a soba noodle restaurant, soba is a type of noodle made from buckwheat. At Azumagura they use a special mill to process the buckwheat, and the noodles are made by highly train artisans ensuring a very high quality and delicious soba experience.
Azumagura also offers other seasonal dishes which compliment Bunraku’s nihonshu perfectly. An English menu is available on request (pictured below) as is a nihonshu recommendation for you meal. On the second floor there are private rooms available to be reserved for parties and special occasions, as well as a terrace for people who prefer to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air.
After eating a delicious meal of soba, why not pursue the brewery shop? Located to the right of the restaurant as you step outside, the shop sells most of the varieties of the Bunraku brand as well as special gifts! Let’s go and have a look inside:
The design of the building and the entrance are sleek and calm really reflecting the breweries image. Below is a photo from the inside of the shop itself. Cold nihonshu varieties are refrigerated and several varieties are available for tasting on request. Why not compare a few different types of nihonshu and see which one you prefer?
The best seller at the moment is a nihonshu called Ageo pictured below. Named after the area where the brewery is located this junmai daiginjo nihonshu is made with local rice and koji (nihonshu yeast). It is a new type of nihonshu for Bunraku and has a fresh taste.
The second recommendation is a limited spring nihonshu, very aptly coloured pink to match the Japanese Cherry Blossoms, or Sakura. This is a junmai ginjo type nihonshu which has a light taste and a fruity aroma. This product retails for 1,782 yen for 720ml.
Lastly, I wanted to show you something which I have never seen at a nihonshu shop before! Nihonshu creams and cosmetics! The colourful bottles and containers caught my eye and I had to find out more!
The picture below shows nihonshu for your bath! Coloured purple, this one has a lavender scent. There are other scents available too including Cherry Blossoms and Persimmon. They all contain junmai daiginjo (fermented rice) which has deep moisturising properties for skin.
The Lavender Bath Nihonshu is priced at 1,404 yen for 100ml and could make a cute present for your friends and family back home! Its gentle scent is good for a relaxing soak before you head off to bed.
Lastly we have hand cream, (to the left) hand mist (at the back) a hand scrub! Also containing junmai daiginjo (fermented rice) these nourishing items a perfect for dry and damaged skin. The hand cream is a fresh blend of rosemary and lavender and sells for 1,944 yen.
Thank you for reading about Kitanishi Sake Brewery in Ageo, Saitama! Please come to visit this family owned brewery. Have a leisurely lunch or dinner of delicious soba noodles then take a short walk to the brewery retail shop to try their nihonshu recommendations! This brewery, restaurant, shop combination is great for nihonshu lovers or for people who would like to learn more about nihonshu and cuisine that compliments it.
Access: Departing Shinjuku Station on the Shonan Shinjuku Line, it takes approximately 39 minutes to reach Ageo Station.
Address Kitanishi Sake Brewery
2-5-5 Kamimachi, Ageo City, Saitama Prefecture 362-0037
Juichi-ya Saketen (Brewery Retail Shop)
Open from 11 am till 6 pm
Closed on Thursdays (Open on public hoiday)
Azumagura Soba Noodle Restaurant
Open for lunch from 11 am till 5 pm
dinner from 5pm til 11pm (Last order 10pm)
Closing at 10pm on Sundays and Public Holidays