To tell you the truth, I’m not a big fan of brewed alcohol, despite the fact that I have trained myself to enjoy the odd glass of wine. I prefer distilled drinks, but I’ll take this timely opportunity to get more accustomed to sake.
February and March is the time for sake breweries to crack open their latest brews: The sake world’s version of Beaujolais Nouveau. The most widely known sake is made in the colder areas further north than Kansai. However, Fukuoka is not without its fair share of breweries. They say that all you need for brewing good sake is “tasty rice, fresh water, natural surroundings and a skilled artisan,” and Fukuoka has had these in abundance since ancient times—Fukuoka is thought to be the place where the very first rice farming in Japan took place, as shown in the rice paddy traces at the Itakuze ruins.
There are more than 70 breweries in Fukuoka prefecture, and Johjima Brewery by the Chikugo riverside is particularly famous. It opens its sake cellars in February and March, which also happens to be the best season for enjoying rape blossoms in full bloom and horsetails just popping up their heads. The only brewery in Fukuoka City itself, Ishikura Shuzou (Hakata-ku, Katakasu 1-chome, next to Fukuoka High School), produces some local brews and cracks open their new sake on March 17th and 18th. For more information in Japanese, check this website: www.fukuoka-sake.org/nihonnsyu/event/kaihou.html
Please be sure to make a reservation before you visit, and don’t drink and drive. Take advantage of the bus tours on offer that take the driving out of your hands!
More Info / Schedule
Fukuoka Prefecture Shuzou Union: 092-651-4591
Ishikura Shuzou: 1-30-1 Katakasu, Hakata-ku 092-633-5100 March 17 (Sat.), 18 (Sun.)
Tomiyasu: 326 Yamakawa-cho, Kurume 0942-43-6391 March 4 (Sun.)
Ohga Shuzou: 4-9-1 Futsukaichichuo, Chikushino 092-922-2633 March 10 (Sat.), 11 (Sun.)
Seiriki Shuzou: 9-1 Kanegae, Ohkawa 0944-87-2145 March 11 (Sun.)