10 Must-Visit Historical Sake Breweries in Northern Kyoto

Stretching along the northern edge of Japan, Kyoto by the Sea is where travelers will find a series of historic sake breweries.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting an authentic Japanese sake brewery, there are few better places to get involved than Northern Kyoto. Also known as Kyoto by the Sea, this rural region is overflowing with ancient fishing villages, soaring mountains, and religious traditions that date back thousands of years.

With numerous historic sake breweries spread throughout the area, some have been kept in the family for centuries, while others are now led by foreign-born master brewers. If you're planning on exploring the ins and outs of this beloved Japanese beverage during your visit to Kyoto by the Sea, we've highlighted a selection of the most influential brewers to sample.

1. Kinoshita Brewery

Kinoshita Brewery

Founded in 1842, the Kinoshita Brewery and its popular Tamagawa brand name is one of the most respected sake operations in Kyoto by the Sea. With Tamagawa described as a "chameleon sake” due to its changing flavor profile at differing temperatures, the name roughly translates to ‘Jewel River’ in reference to the Kawakamidani River that flows alongside the brewery. The Kinoshita Brewery also has the unusual distinction of having an Englishman as its master brewer, with Philip Harper and his innovative methods leading the production since 2007.

Address: 1512 Kumihamacho Koyama, Kyōtango City, 629-3442, Kyoto Prefecture
Opening times: Daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Contact Information: (+81)772-82-0071
Nearest Station: Kabutoyama Station (3-minute walk)
Parking: Yes
Tours: No

2. Shirasugi Sake Brewery Co.

Shirasugi Sake Brewery Co.

Despite the long-standing nature of the Shirasugi Sake Brewery Co, founded in 1777, this fascinating company offers a modern twist on traditional sake methods. Using only edible Koshihikari rice, the resulting taste is noticeably richer than varieties that use standard yellow Koji. In fact, the Shirasugi Sake Brewery claims to be the only maker in the world using this method.

Address: 954 Omiyacho Suki, Kyōtango City, 629-2503, Kyoto Prefecture
Opening times: Monday–Saturday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Contact Information: (+81)772-64-2101
Nearest Station: Kyo-Tango-Omiya Station (2 kilometers)

3. Takeno Sake Brewing Co

Takeno Sake Brewing Co

Takeno Sake Brewing Co has operated as a family-run business for the last six generations, ensuring the team behind the brewery is constantly striving to produce the top-quality sake product. Across a wide selection of staple and limited-run sakes, visitors will find varieties that range from sweet and acidic to refreshingly mellow. As one of the most prestigious sake breweries in Northern Kyoto, the prices of the most exclusive bottles can reach 200,000 yen.

Address: 3622-1 Mizotani, Yasaka-cho, Kyotango City, 627-0111, Kyoto Prefecture 
Opening times: Monday–Friday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm 
Contact Information: (+81)772-65-2021 
Nearest Station: Mineyama Station (5 kilometers) 
Languages: English and Chinese signs 
Parking: Yes 
Tours: Please contact to check in advance

4. Hakurei Brewing Co.

Hakurei Brewing Co.

Opened during the Edo period in 1832, the Hakurei Brewing Co has served as a community-orientated sake brewery ever since. Situated in Yura, close to a striking beach overlooking the Wakasa Bay and the Yura River, the brewery has received numerous awards for its dynamic sake and liqueur products. Meanwhile, there’s a stellar free brewery tour that provides visitors with sharp insight into the history of the operation, the origin of the brand, and the remarkable traditions of sake brewing.

Address: 949 Yura, Miyazu City, 626-0071, Kyoto Prefecture
Opening times: Thursday–Tuesday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Contact Information: (+81) 772-26-0001
Nearest Station: Tango-Yura Station (6-minute walk)
Parking: Yes
Tours: Yes

5. Iio Jozo Brewery

Iio Jozo Brewery

Situated in Miyazu City, along the scenic Tango Peninsula, the Iio Jozo Brewery has created stunning rice vinegar products since 1893. Now helmed by Akihiro Iio, a fifth-generation vinegar producer, the business focuses on using pesticide-free rice harvested from local terraced rice fields. With the area renowned for its pristine water and changing temperatures, the climate is perfect for producing the outstanding raw ingredients needed to deliver a top-notch product. Using traditional fermentation methods that occur across between 80 and 120 days, the flavors produced by Iio Jozo Brewery are wonderfully rich.

Address: 373 Odashukuno, Miyazu City, 626-0052, Kyoto Prefecture
Opening times: Monday–Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Contact Information: (+81) 772-25-0015
Nearest Station: Miyazu Station (6 kilometers)
Parking: Yes
Vinegar Production Tours: Yes

6. Towa Sake Brewery

Towa Sake Brewery

The Towa Sake Brewery sat closed for 33 years, but since head brewer Jun Imakawa decided to reopen the business in 2011, it has experienced an impressive uplift. Previously operated by Jun’s parents, the Towa Sake Brewery is the last of its kind in Fukuchiyama City. However, the business has established a dedicated following thanks to its use of traditional sake-making methods alongside local rice and water. With the sake on offer featuring mellow flavors designed to complement a delicious meal, Jun also produces on-demand bottles for customers with unique requests.

Address: 115 Ueno, Fukuchiyama City, 620-0825, Kyoto Prefecture
Opening times: Monday–Saturday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Contact Information: (+81) 773-35-0008
Nearest Station and Bus Stop: Fukuchiyama Station, 45 mins by West Japan JR Bus and get off at Ikuno no Sato bus stop, 5 mins walk from the bus stop

7. Ikeda Sake Brewery

Ikeda Sake Brewery

Situated along the Yura River in the Northern Kyoto city of Maizuru, the Ikeda Sake Brewery has been producing much-loved sake since it was founded in 1879. With the operation dedicated to expertly balanced sakes that elevate the flavor and atmosphere of any meal, the Ikeda Sake Brewery is popular amongst drinkers who prefer gentle flavors and aromas. Across varieties best consumed cold, at room temperature, and hot, the brewery uses rice from across Kyoto to deliver a refreshing taste.

Address: 32 Nakayama, Maizuru City, 624-0966, Kyoto Prefecture
Opening times: Monday–Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
Contact Information: (+81) 773-82-0005
Nearest Station: Shinonome Station (11-minute walk)
Parking: Yes

8. Wakamiya Sake Brewery

Wakamiya Sake Brewery

The city of Ayabe is a great stop in Northern Japan for visitors who want to experience the country’s serene forests and farmland. However, sake lovers also have plenty of reasons to head along, with the Wakamiya Sake Brewery – founded in 1920 – recognized as a long-standing member of the community. Building on the legacy created by the site’s predecessor known as the Santan Sake Brewery, Wakamiya offers a fascinating combination of Tajima and Tamba brewing methods to produce a stunning hand-crafted product that recalls the surrounding environment.

Address: 4 Yakushimae, Mikatacho, Ayabe City, 623-0031, Kyoto Prefecture
Contact Information: (+81) 773-42-0268
Nearest Station: Ayabe Station (3 kilometers)
Parking: Yes
Tours: Yes

9. Yosamusume Sake Brewery

Yosamusume Sake Brewery

Located on the edge of the Tango Peninsula, the town of Yosano is admired for its rich rice-growing traditions and remarkably pure waters flowing from the Ōeyama mountain range. Supported by these lush geographies, the family-run Yosamusume Sake Brewery is where visitors to Japan can discover fruity, low-alcohol sakes that deliver a smooth, crisp taste. Led by a sixth-generation master brewer using techniques passed down through the years, the company has adopted the wine-making philosophy of ‘terroir’ to showcase the unique qualities of Yosano’s climate in their sakes.

Address: 2-2 Yoza, Yosano, Yoza District, 629-2423, Kyoto Prefecture
Opening times: Daily from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm
Contact Information: (+81) 772-42-2834
Nearest Station: Yosano Station (9 kilometers)
Parking: Yes
Tours: Yes

10. Mukai Sake Brewery

Mukai Sake Brewery

The Mukai Sake Brewery is the ideal place to explore the depths of Kyoto by the Sea. Situated on the water in the charming fishing village of Funaya, this small-batch brewery has been operating nonstop since 1754, making it one of the oldest in the region. Using painstaking methods like Kimoto to produce sake yeast starter, master brewer Kuniko Mukai also brews with the region’s vibrant red rice to create her celebrated flavors. Having studied brewing techniques at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, Mukai’s specialized abilities are acclaimed across Japan, with her sake served at the G20 Osaka Summit in 2019.

Address: 67 Hirata, Ine-cho, Yoza-gun, 626-0423, Kyoto Prefecture
Opening times: Friday–Wednesday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Contact Information: (+81) 772-32-0003
Nearest Station: Iwatakiguchi Station (22 kilometers)
Parking: Yes

How to get to Kyoto by the Sea

Ready to explore Kyoto by the Sea? The closest airports are Kansai International Airport (KIX) and Osaka International Airport (ITM). For travelers flying from Tokyo, it takes one hour and 15 minutes to reach Osaka International Airport or one hour and 25 minutes to arrive at Kansai International Airport.

Once you’ve landed, you can drive to serene destinations in Northern Kyoto like Fukuchiyama City in one hour and 30 minutes or Yosano in two hours and 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can catch the JR express train from Kyoto Station to Amanohashidate Station in approximately two hours and 15 minutes.

If you’re looking for a convenient way to explore the country, the JAL Japan Explorer Pass provides special airfares for more than 30 cities across the domestic network. This way, you can experience more of Japan’s alluring culture for less.

Getting There