Drinking in Japan Japan Travel Planner

stop start

New Encounters and Experiences:
Discovering Japan through Liquors
Drinking in Japan

One of the joys of travelling is discovering alcoholic beverages unique to each region of Japan. The art of brewing sake was refined over the centuries using abundant water resources and quality rice, and Japanese people have long enjoyed drinking sake while admiring the beautiful seasons, such as the cherry blossoms, the moon, autumn leaves and snow. The techniques of sake-making are also fully applied in the production of other types of liquors. Japanese whiskey, which has received international awards and has been recognized around the world, is a perfect example. Embark on a journey and fully explore the charms of Japan through liquors. You can indulge in the authentic vibe of bars filled with encounters and discoveries while socializing with the locals or find the best bottle of liquor for your loved ones.

Savoring Sake in "Kominka"
The Warm Hospitality
Connects Travelers with
the Local Community

Start the sake journey with a bar in a "kominka," an old Japanese farmhouse. Hayama in Kanagawa Prefecture has long been a popular resort area with many holiday homes. The town even hosts a villa owned by the Japanese Imperial Family. Here, you can experience tasting sake while immersing yourself in a quintessential Japanese atmosphere. At Rikka Hayama, the owner's warm hospitality will bring you closer to the locals through engaging conversations.

Indulge in Sake and Japanese Whisky in a Quintessential Japanese Atmosphere

Pass through a garden adorned with seasonal flowers and plants and a "noren" curtain, and you will find yourself in a nostalgic Japanese atmosphere. The owner of the restaurant, dressed in kimono, will warmly welcome you and offer a wide selection of sake to match customers' tastes, each served in a special sake cup for savoring distinctive sweet flavors and aromas. The restaurant also offers Japanese whiskey that boasts a gorgeous aroma and delicate flavors. A must-try along with sake is the "gyoza" dumplings made from Hayama beef, which can be rarely found. Its luxurious taste is well accepted even by the food connoisseurs in Hayama.

The Warm Hospitality of the Owner Brings You Closer to the Locals

If you fancy engaging in lively conversations, the restaurant owner may connect you with the locals, naturally prompting a conversation between those sitting next to each other at the bar counter. For those who prefer drinking quietly, the owner keeps a comfortable distance to offer a calm space. Indulge in delicious drinks and food with the locals while feeling the remnants of nostalgic Japan. It will surely be an unforgettable night of your trip.

Rikka Hayama

Haneda

Experience Local
Japan through Liquors

Because of its geography stretching from north to south, each region of Japan produces and offers distinctive liquor varieties that reflect its climate and culture. The locals have likewise developed unique ways of drinking. Dive deep into a region and enjoy drinks in the same way as the locals. It will surely bring you closer together with them and make for an enjoyable evening.

Awamori

and

Okinawa (Naha Airport)

Be Enraptured by Awamori and
the Sounds of Sanshin in Okinawa,
Japan's Southernmost Islands

  • Okinawa Islands are known for emerald-green waters and lush, abundant nature owing to the subtropical climate, but the best part of visiting is meeting the friendly people of the islands. Sip "awamori," a distilled liquor indigenous to Okinawa, and enjoy dancing the "kachashi" traditional festive folk dance to the sounds of the "sanshin" musical instrument as the locals do. Okinawa Kitchen Paikaji Okikokudaimae Store is just the right place to experience such an exquisite local atmosphere.As you enter the bar garnished with eye-catching traditional red roof tiles, staff dressed in Okinawan costumes will greet you.

    The "sanshin" performer walks around and plays music for the diners, giving you a truly immersive musical experience as if you have become one of the locals. Occasionally, when an event is held, you can also enjoy dancing "eisa" folk dance unique to Okinawa. Very aromatic and flavorful, awamori is a distinctly Okinawan liquor. On Miyako Island, a drinking custom called "otori" is still well preserved, in which a group of people sitting in a circle drink awamori poured in a single cup and pass it around. Immerse yourself in the good old Okinawan atmosphere and do as the locals do.

    Okinawa Kitchen Paikaji Okikokudaimae Store

    Naha
Awamori-Okinawa

Craft Beer

and

Shonan (Haneda Airport)

Quench Your Thirst with
Craft Beer in Shonan,
a Hub of Youth Culture

  • The Shonan area, famous as a great surf spot, has been leading Japan's marine activities and seaside life. While incorporating trends in music, pop culture and food, the area has also developed its own unique beach culture. One of the must-do things in Shonan is to have a drink on a terrace. Take in the view of Mount Fuji on a clear day and feel the sea breeze with a peerless craft beer in hand.

    Located along the shores of Katase Enoshima, Garb Enoshima is the perfect place to enjoy hoppy craft beer with pronounced bitterness and aromatic flavor while savoring dishes made from fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables. The open space will surely help you mingle with locals.

    Garb Enoshima

    Haneda
Craft Beer-Shonan

Craft Gin

and

Kyoto (Itami Airport)

Enjoy Craft Gin Infused with
Japanese Ingredients in a
Traditional "Machiya" Townhouse
in the Ancient Capital of Kyoto

  • Machiya traditional wooden townhouses represent Kyoto and its culture. Beautifully fusing functionality and artistry, the houses are the epitome of the wisdom and ingenuity of ordinary people back in the day. Some of the houses have now been converted into Japanese-style inns and variety stores. Crafthouse Kyoto is housed in a 100-year-old townhouse that has been renovated into a bar based on the concept of creating a community in Kyoto where people from all over the world can join in. True to its concept, the bar has a welcoming atmosphere that makes it easy to strike up a conversation with fellow travelers.

    The bar's recommendation is the craft gin produced by a distillery in Kyoto. Using high-quality rice spirit infused with aromas of locally sourced "sansho" pepper, "yuzu" citron and "gyokuro" green tea, the craft gin has garnered many prestigious awards around the world. Crafthouse Kyoto also offers an extensive lineup of craft beers. Having good drinks at a cozy "machiya" counter will surely keep the conversation flowing.

    Crafthouse Kyoto

    Itami
Craft Jin-Kyoto

Sake

and

Tokyo (Haneda Airport)

Savor Sake from All
Over Japan in a Stylish
and Modern Kaku-uchi Bar

  • Tokyo, the culinary capital of the world, has an endless list of bars to choose from, but "kaku-uchi" or a liquor store doubling as a bar, is the best way to casually enjoy sake. You can sample small quantities of sake at a standing counter. If you find a favorite, you can buy a bottle to bring home. The friendly atmosphere makes it easier for anyone to enter and engage in lively conversations.

    Kuwabara Shoten in Gotanda, Tokyo, lets you try out different types of sake in a traditional "kaku-uchi" serving style in the liquor store's warehouse that has been transformed into a modern sleek space. Over 200 types of sake are stored in a refrigerator in the back of the store, and 40 labels are featured on the sake-of-the-day menu, all of which can be enjoyed from as little as 30 milliliters. Snacks and delicacies from all over Japan are carefully selected by the owner. Encountering casually with sake enthusiasts is an ideal way to discover new flavors.

    Kuwabara Shoten

    Haneda
Nihonsyu-Tokyo

Experience the World-Famous
Japanese Liquors with Local Flair

Japanese liquor has been garnering recognition worldwide. Step into the production areas of the renowned beverages to learn the ins and outs of their production while appreciating the beautiful natural environment that nurtures them. If you'd like to share the experience with friends and families back home, be sure to purchase a bottle at the shops attached to the breweries and distilleries.

Japanese Whisky Cultivated by Clear
Waters and Rich Natural Environments

The key to whisky production is the natural waters. With over 70% of its land covered by mountains, Japan is a treasure trove of spring and subterranean waters provided by rich forests that offer various seasonal natural blessings. These delicious natural waters used for brewing can even be drunk straight from the source and help to create the smooth, mellow flavor of Japanese whisky.
As quality water is essential for whisky-making, breweries are often founded in areas surrounded by lush nature. When visiting a brewery, be sure to also journey into the rich natural environment that nurtures the savory liquor. Japanese whiskies are highly acclaimed internationally. At the World Whiskies Awards 2023, three Japanese whisky brands won the World's Best awards.

whisky
Drinking in Japan
Whisky

Whisky

and

Yamanashi (Haneda Airport)

Soft, Buoyant Flavor Born from the
Forest Rich with Natural Water

Suntory Whisky Hakushu Distillery

Situated within the 820,000-square-meter forest at the foot of the Southern Alps in central Japan, the distillery was built in Hakushu after a tireless pursuit of quality water vital for whisky making. The meltwater that passes through the granite layers of the Southern Alps results in soft water containing a moderate amount of minerals and results in a bright, refreshing taste when used in brewing. While touring the distillery, take a stroll along the well-maintained pathway into the forest. The rich natural environment is protected, making it a sanctuary for various bird species. Listening to their singing as you relax in the healing negative ions will soothe your body and mind.

Drinking in Japan
Whisky

Whisky

and

Hokkaido (New Chitose Airport)

Robust Fragrance and Flavor Created
by the Hands of Master Distillers

Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery

Yoichi is a beautiful port town with abundant seafood production, located close enough to Sapporo for a day trip. The town is also known as a producer of various fruits, including apples, pears and grapes, and you can enjoy fruit pickings from early summer to autumn. Around 100 years ago, Masataka Taketsuru, who studied whisky-making in Scotland, was enamored by Yoichi's climate and natural environment, which is similar to those of Scotland, and established a domestic whisky distillery here. Skilled craftsmen continue to throw in coal for distilling, a process that adds a powerful aroma and flavor. If you are visiting Yoichi for the distillery, winter is a great season despite the biting cold. During the Snow Story Yoichi event, the area in front of the nearby train station becomes a fantastic photogenic spot lit up in warm amber illumination.

Climate, Rice, Water and Traditional
Foods Add Local Colors to Japanese Sake

The elaborate and intricate process of sake-making starts with the fermentation of steamed rice. The taste of the sake is determined by various factors such as the rice's polishing rate and production method, resulting in a range of flavors from the sweet taste embodying the natural warmth of rice (amakuchi) to the dry, refreshing and sharp taste (karakuchi) and rich, fruity and fragrant ones (umakuchi).
There are over 1,000 sake breweries in Japan, with many offering tours. Visit a brewery to see first-hand the meticulous craft of Japanese sake-making and appreciate the photogenic sights of the traditional "kura" warehouse architecture and the "sugidama" cedar balls hanging under the awning. Touring various breweries also gives you the chance to be immersed in the regional climate and food culture that make up the background of the local sake. Some sake is only available for purchase at the brewery, so you can enjoy looking for great souvenirs.

Nihonsyu
Drinking in Japan
Japanese Sake

Japanese Sake

and

Akita (Akita Airport)

Beautifully Clear Taste
Brewed with Attention to Details in the Snow Country

Saiya Shuzoten

Saiya Shuzoten was founded in 1902 in Akita Prefecture, one of the leading sake production areas in Japan. Designated as a national tangible cultural property, the brewery is among the few remaining that have preserved the traditional atmosphere with its shop and "kura" warehouse passed down in their original form to this day. It is also a rare brewery that takes advantage of the height difference of a natural sloping terrain, said to be the key factor for the delicious sake. Yurihonjo City in Akita Prefecture, where the brewery is located, is famous for the Mt. Chokai & Tobishima Island Geopark, featuring the sacred mountain and island floating in the Sea of Japan. Japanese sake is often called a blessing of nature and has an inextricable connection with its environment. When visiting a sake brewery, be sure to venture out to experience its surrounding natural beauty.

Drinking in Japan
Japanese Sake

Japanese Sake

and

Yamaguchi
(Iwakuni Airport)

Premium Sake Brewed in Yamaguchi
Blessed with Fruits of the sea and Mountains

Asahi Shuzo

Located at the western tip of Japan's Honshu main island, Yamaguchi Prefecture faces both the calm Seto Inland Sea and the rough Sea of Japan, offering sumptuous seafood any season you visit. It is also famous for numerous scenic spots such as the Akiyoshido Cave, one of the largest limestone caves in Japan; the space-like Shunan factory night view; and a picturesque promenade walkway constructed above the sea. This remarkable prefecture is the birthplace of the world-acclaimed sake, Dassai. In September 2023, the Dassai Blue Sake Brewery opened in Hudson Valley, New York, creating much buzz with the locally brewed Dassai Blue. The brewery's innovative spirit aiming to create even better sake is deeply rooted in Yamaguchi's tumultuous history. Feel the samurai spirit and explore the region's fascinating history as you enjoy the season's best seafood with Japanese sake.

Iwakuni Airport and Hiroshima Airport are multi-airports.

Japanese Sake Serves Essential
Roles in Seasonal Events

The Japanese people have always enjoyed drinks together during festivals and rituals as a way to foster unity in villages and towns. When you visit traditional events held across the country in various seasons, you can observe the profound relationships between the Japanese people and liquors. Experience the diverse brewing culture to further enrich your journey in Japan.

  • Spring

    Cherry Blossom Viewing

    Celebrating the arrival of spring by bringing and drinking alcoholic beverages together under the full bloom of cherry blossoms is a unique Japanese custom. Friendly conversations flow in the warm spring sun, and you can even enjoy the night view of the cherry blossoms as many sites light up the flowers in the evening.

  • Summer

    Festivals

    Many regional summer festivals are held between July and August in Japan, with food and game stalls lining the approach toward shrines at night, parades of portables shrines and "bon-odori" traditional dances being staple summer features. Enjoy the heat of the festivities and drink with the residents, or bask in the afterglow of the excitement with locally brewed sake.

  • Autumn

    Potato Stew Party

    "Imoni," or taro potato stew, is a local cuisine in the Tohoku region. During the taro potato harvest season in autumn, families and friends gather by the river with pots and ingredients and enjoy a potato stew party, or "imoni-kai." Flavored with soy sauce or miso seasoning, the stew pairs wonderfully with any kind of liquor. There are various imoni-kai open to tourists as well, such as the Best Imoni-kai in Japan Festival, which offers around 30,000 servings of the tasty stew.

  • Winter

    Japanese Sake Train

    A uniquely Japanese travel experience is to enjoy sake while gazing at the winter landscape from the train window. Various special trains offer local sake in many parts of the country, so hop on and savor the drink together with delicious "bento" boxes featuring local cuisines.

Enjoy a special selection
of sake on board

ANA's international flights offer Japanese sake as well as various Japanese liquors in each class. Enjoy the finest selection of drinks recommended by ANA.

Sample image