Located roughly five-ten minutes on foot from Keihan Railways Chushojima Station or Kintetsu Railways Momoyama Goryu Mae Station, in the Fushimi section of south Kyoto, is the Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum. Whether you are a connoisseur of Japanese rice wine or not, the building and grounds and exhibit hall are well worth the short trip from central Kyoto.
Founded in 1637, Gekkeikan is now Japan’s second largest brewer of sake. The factory, which is hard by the old canal that was used for transporting the product to both Kyoto and Osaka, is in an area famed for its natural springs. The water was said to be almost sweet in its purity—and thus ideal for use with rice, molded rice, and yeast in producing Japan’s best-known drink.
We got off at Fushimi Momoyama Station and walked down the covered arcade high street several blocks, and then turned left. Several short blocks and the tall sake storage tanks came into view—along with the pungent smell of sake. They look like mini-silos, perhaps 10 meters high, and stand behind traditional Japanese walls. From here you wind your way to the Museum.
Tickets for adults cost 300 yen. You can wander the grounds, which house sake cellars (above), chimneys, and a small garden. Inside there is a gallery that covers the history of the company, and the tools used in the past to produce sake. After the tour, there was a tasting area and the requisite gift shop.
Behind the cellars on the outside the wall, the old canal is still there—no longer used for transportation but kept up with walking paths and boats that are used for tours in the warm weather. From the canal, we walk back up to the high street via a narrow and traditional shopping street filled with Japanese goods such as happi coats, wooden toys, fans, byobu screens, and masks.
Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum
9:30AM to 4:30PM Tuesday through Saturday
Closed: New Year holidays and O-Bon Festival (mid-August).
The museum is not far from Fushimi Inari Shrine and can be visited together on the same day.
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Friday, December 29, 2006
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