Worth a Trip: Fushimi Sake District
Fushimi, home to 37 sake breweries, is one of Japan’s most famous sake-producing regions. Its location on the Uji-gawa made it perfect for sake production, as fresh, high-quality rice was readily available from the fields of neighbouring Shiga-ken and the final product could be easily loaded onto boats for export downriver to Osaka.
Despite its fame, Fushimi is one of Kyoto’s least-attractive areas. It’s also a hard area to navigate due to a lack of English signage. It’s probably only worth a visit if you have a real interest in sake and sake production.
To get to Fushimi, take the Keihan line train from Sanjō Station to Chūshojima Station (¥270, 15 minutes).
The largest of Fushimi’s sake breweries is Gekkeikan Sake Ōkura Museum, the world’s leading producer of sake. Although most of the sake is now made in Osaka, a limited amount is still handmade in a Meiji-era sakagura (sake brewery) here in Fushimi. The museum is home to a collection of artefacts and memorabilia tracing the 350-year history of Gekkeikan and the sake-brewing process.
Kizakura Kappa Country is a short walk from Gekkeikan. The vast complex houses both sake and beer breweries (not open to the public), courtyard gardens and a small gallery dedicated to the mythical (and sneaky) creature Kappa. The restaurant-bar is an appealing option for a bite and a bit of fresh-brewed ale.
Another lunch option is the tasty yakitori (chicken grilled on skewers) at Torisei, washed down with sake. It's run by the owner of the Yamamoto Honke sake brewery. Head straight up the street from Gekkeikan away from the canal, past the second street on the right and look for the sake barrels out the front.