TOKYO-MADE SAKE

Indulge in sake and shochu made in Tokyo!

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Did you know that Tokyo is home to many producers of sake and shochu?
Japanese sake, also called Nihonshu, is brewed in Tokyo since the premodern Edo period. Honkaku Shochu, or authentic single-distilled shochu, made in the Izu Islands is known as Tokyo Shimazake (island liquor). Here, discover which best suits your palate.
This feature presents the charms of Tokyo spirits made with traditional techniques.

Tokyo-made sake

Tokyo is blessed with quality groundwater and subterranean water, as well as a long-lived spirit for making sake. Full-fledged production began in the mid Edo period (1603–1868), when Matsudaira Sadanobu, a councilor under the Tokugawa shogunate, issued an order for Edo citizens to economize. At the time, much of the sake consumed in Edo came from the center of production in the western Kansai region. Lamenting the lavish flow of drinking money from Edo to Kansai, Sadanobu assembled 11 leading local sake brewers, loaned them 14,700 koku of government-owned rice (equivalent to 2,205 tons), and ordered them to make 30,000 casks of sake. The sake produced as a result were sold in Edo under the label “certified high-grade sake from the Kanto region,” and led to further growth of the Edo sake industry.

Relish the world of sake!

Let's ask an expert for fun, delicious ways to enjoy sake, flavor profiles useful for selecting a label, and food that complements sake.

  • Expert tips to enjoy sake
  • Discover your favorite sake
  • Sake and food pairing

Tokyo producer guide

Tokyo’s nine sake breweries. Click a signature label to visit the page introducing the producer.* For details on brewery tours, contact the producer.

Tokyo-made shochu

The history of shochu production in Tokyo dates back to 1853, in the late Edo period, when one Tanso Shoemon, a shipbroker in the southern province of Satsuma, was exiled to Hachijojima Island for smuggling. Food was scarce in Hachijojima at the time, and making spirits from rice was prohibited. But there was no ban for sweet potatoes. Shoemon produced Imo (sweet potato) Shochu and shared his techniques with the islanders. Thanks to the ideal island climate, sweet potato cultivation and Imo Shochu production grew and later spread to Miyakejima, Oshima, Aogashima, and Kozushima, where original varieties of shochu are made today. Another distilled beverage, rum, is produced in the Ogasawara Islands. More recently, a number of sake breweries are branching out to make shochu.

Relish the world of shochu!

Let’s ask an expert for fun, delicious ways to enjoy shochu, flavor profiles useful for selecting a label, and food that complements shochu.

  • Expert tips to enjoy shochu
  • Discover your favorite shochu
  • Shochu and food pairing

Tokyo producer guide

Nine Tokyo Shimazake distilleries, plus producers of shochu made with locally harvested black rice and rum made in the Ogasawara Islands. Click a signature label to visit the page introducing the producer.

Other spirits

Tokyo also offers rum made with sugarcane in the Ogasawara Islands, and honkaku shochu made with unmilled black rice grown in Fuchu.

Matsuo-jinja Shrine dedicated to the god of sake

Okunitama-jinja Shrine, in Fuchu, houses Matsuo-jinja Shrine dedicated to Oyamakui no Mikoto, the guardian deity of sake production. The head shrine, Matsunoo-taisha in Kyoto, has a spring behind the main building believed to save liquor from spoiling. It is customary for Kyoto brewers to collect the water and mix it in their sake even today. Matsuo-jinja is a branch shrine erected in the late Edo period at the request of neighboring brewers. Apart from the annual festival on September 13, a sake safety ceremony is held in late November, when sake production starts, for members of the Tokyo Sake Brewers Association.

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