The best water and rice in the prefecture

Houretsu Sake

takahashi city, okayama prefecture, visitwestjapan
Photographer | Takuma Kimura

 

Good sake comes down to having select ingredients to work with, and the Ukan region of Takahashi City is said to have some of the best water and rice in the prefecture. Pure water is absolutely essential in growing the most delicious rice, and this makes Ukan Town a top location for sake brewing. In operation in Ukan since 1918, the company has passed the one hundred year mark and has charted a steady course for the 21st century and beyond.

Houretsu Sake has been using the same well to source its water from the very beginning. Located in the center of the property with a depth of 8 meters, the fairytale-like cobblestones that form its wall and disappear into the darkness as you look down, make it a work of art in its own right.

The proprietors at Houretsu Sake relate that well water gives sake a superior flavor due to its rich mineral content. When this is combined with the finest locally produced rice, the result is outstanding. The basic process involves adding yeast to a mixture of rice and water, which starts the fermenting process, leading to what is referred as “rough sake”.

Brewery tours are available daily from 9am-4pm with prior reservation, which can actually be completed by filling out a form on the company website.

If you happen to be in Takahashi City for the weekend, plan a your visit to the Ukan district and brewery tour around the time of the annual jazz concert that is sponsored by Houretsu. The event, which has been held since 1994, features marvelous music played right on the brewery premises.

Register for a tour of the facility and learn the ins and outs of sake making right at the center of Ukan Town’s historic merchant district. Treat yourself to a bottle or two and bring a few back for your friends and family.

 

About the Area

Takahashi City is a place that requires several days to even scratch the the surface of the diversity of its culture, landscape and people. As the city center is easily accessible by train that is the best place to start.

Right next to the station is the Takahashi City Library, which was conceived as a gathering place for the 21st century by town planners. An overwhelming success, the space draws locals and visitors from across a great distance.

Central Takahashi is also the home of the historic district, which includes the former residences of the samurai who served the lord of Bitchu Matsuyama Castle.

The castle occupies the highest elevation of any in Japan and is a challenging hike from the bottom of its access road. Actually reaching the castle gate requires a relatively steep climb up steps that have been set into the mountainside.

There are many options when its comes to getting outside the city but if you have limited time Fukiya Furusato Village and Nariwa are good choices. Fukiya is a historic bengara (iron oxide) mining town where the reddish-brown pigment takes on many forms. Nariwa is location of the Tadao Ando designed Nariwa Museum of Art.

 

Access: Take the JR Hakubi Line from JR Okayama Station to JR Takahashi Station. Take the Ukan Interchange bound bus to the Ukan Town Office bus stop. It is about an 4-minute walk from the bus stop.

Cancellation Policy

1) Detailed tour information & conditions will be given after application is made; please read and confirm the final itinerary before the departure date.
2) Reservations: Fill out the application contact form; application is complete upon payment. Reservations accepted by phone, mail, fax, online, or other communicative methods. The contract is not valid at time of reservation; the customer will be asked to submit an application form and payment within 3 days from time of reservation. If application form and payment are not submitted within the term, the reservation shall be considered void.
3) Items not included in tour price: Transportation costs not included in itinerary, optional tour fees, excess baggage fees, any fees of a personal nature (phone bills, meal costs, etc.) Items excluded from the tour will be stated in the tour information.
4) Cancellation fees: When the application is cancelled by the customer or when payment has not been made by the specified date, Ryobi Tours shall receive a percentage of the per person tour fee as a cancellation fee, or a penalty fee. Differences in room charges that result from one person in a group cancelling shall be charged to the participating person(s).

Cancellation Date Up to 21 days prior 20-8 days prior 7-2 days prior Day prior to start of tour Day of tour After start of tour/non-participation with no contact
Cancellation Fee No charge 20% of tour fee 30% of tour fee 40% of tour fee 50% of tour fee 100% of tour fee