Top Ten Wineries, Breweries, and Distilleries

Takayama, Japan: Sake
Shirakawa Village, Japan
The unique farmhouses of Shirakawa Village, Japan (Photodisc)

5. Takayama, Japan: Sake
High in the hills of northern Japan's Gifu Prefecture, far from the bustle of Tokyo, an old way of life still thrives. The city of Takayama and its surroundings are cradled by yawning mountain peaks and lined with well-preserved traditional Edo Period (1600-1868) row houses of a bygone era. Pure mountain water, quality locally grown rice, and cold winters are the essential ingredients to making good sake, and Hida-Takayama has all of these. The city harbors eight sake breweries, some dating back to the 1700s—the decided 'new kids' in an area that may have been settled as early as 14,000 B.C. From January to March, the peak brewing period, you can take tours of the breweries, all within just a few blocks of each other. Brands include Hirase, Tanabe, Hunasaka, and Niki. Most are in lattice-windowed traditional buildings. To complete your cultural saturation, take a day trip to see the idyllic farmhouses in the nearby villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, which together earned designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Japan Travel Guide


Published: 11 May 2009 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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