New VR Experience! "The Process of Brewing Japanese Sake"
Opening at the Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center on March 1st, 2019!
In recent years, sake brewery tours and regional culture tours with a focus on sake breweries (sake brewery tourism) have been popular among travelers from overseas. However, since sake brewing is limited to the winter, it is difficult to allow visitors to actually watch the process at the brewing sites that handle microorganisms. Therefore, on March 1st, 2019, the Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center is starting a service providing a virtual sake brewing experience.
Overview of the
Virtual Sake Brewing Tour
It is difficult to watch the actual process of brewing sake, even in sake breweries
Because the period for brewing sake is limited and there are issues with hygiene and the sheer size of factories, it is difficult to observe the process of brewing sake, even if you actually visit a sake brewery. Therefore, we began a service that allows people to understand Japanese sake better through experiencing a virtual factory tour.
Available at the "Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center"
Although sake is brewed across Japan, areas where rice is produced, particularly the Tohoku, Shin'etsu, and Kansai regions, are particularly famous. The virtual factory tour explains the production process in English in a manner that is easy to understand. The virtual factory tour can be experienced at the "Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center" in Toranomon in Tokyo.
360° 4K3D Video
After putting on a VR headset and headphones, visitors experience the virtual factory tour through the 360-degree 4K3D video. The tour takes roughly 8 minutes.
The experience is free and does not require a reservation
There are 4 VR headsets at the Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center, and visitors can use them for free without making a reservation.
Content of the Virtual Sake Brewing Tour"
Sake Ingredients: Water
Delicious Japanese sake starts with pure spring water that has been nurtured by nature.
Sake Ingredients: Rice
Rice for sake is carefully cultivated. The types of rice used for sake include Yamada Nishiki, Omachi, Gohyakumangoku, and others that are specialized for their use in Japanese sake, rather than Koshihikari, Hitomebore, Hinohikari, and others that are better suited for eating.
The History of Japanese sake
In the Nara period 1,300 years ago, sake was brewed using methods that are similar to those that are in use today. In ancient times, sake was a special beverage that was created from valuable rice, and there was a practice of drinking it during festivals and sacred, formal, and ceremonial occasions.
The Process of Brewing Japanese Sake
Polishing the Rice
Japanese sake brewing takes place between the autumn, when the new rice crop is harvested, and the winter. The outer surface of the rice is polished to provide a refreshing taste. You can see quite a difference before and after polishing the rice.
Washing the Rice, Steeping the Rice, Steaming the Rice
After being polished, the rice is then washed, steeped in water for several seconds, and steamed in a large wooden koshiki, which is a steam vat.
Rice that has been steamed is used to make koji (a fungus used to create sake). Koji is made by dispersing spores of koji mold across the steamed rice for breeding. Koji is delicately made by hand, and this process takes roughly 50 hours.
Making Yeast Starter
Yeast starter is prepared by adding first-class yeast to a mixture of koji, steamed rice, and water.
Finally, we begin the process of making moromi, a mash of the sake ingredients, which is when fermentation takes place. While making moromi, there are three stages of preparation, which represent a characteristic trait of brewing Japanese sake.
The moromi is poured into cloth bags called saka-bukuro and laid out on a machine press called fune. Pressure is applied from the top to squeeze out the sake.
About the Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center
The Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center is a tourist destination in Toranomon, Tokyo, where you can see exhibits about Japanese sake and shochu, which are the traditional beverages of Japan, enjoy tastings, and gather information. Staff members can provide support in English. The facility is open from 10:00 - 18:00 on weekdays and closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
Location and Access
Address: 1 Chome-6-15 Nishishinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo-to Nihon Shuzo Toranomon Building 1F
The closest train stations are as follows:
Tokyo Metro Ginza Line Toranomon Station, 3 minutes by foot from exit 9 / Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line Kasumigaseki Station, 3 minutes by foot from exit C3 / Toei Mita Line Uchisaiwaicho, 3 minutes by foot from exit A4 / JR Shimbashi Station, 8 minutes by foot from the Hibiya exit
Around 100 types of sake and shochu are stocked for tastings, and prices start at 100 yen per tasting. Offerings include daiginjo-shu, junmai ginjo-shu, junmai-shu, aged sake, sparking-seishu, kijo-shu (noble brewed sake), and various other types of Japanese sake from around the country. You can also try authentic shochu made of potatoes, barley, rice, brown sugar, and other ingredients, as well as awamori and various fruit liqueurs made by sake brewers.
You can access a collection of the latest information about sake, starting with information about the process of brewing sake. Your sake concierge can respond to all of your questions, including questions regarding information about sake brewery tourism, various sake events taking place across the country, and information about stores that sell sake.
About the YouTube version of the Virtual Sake Brewing Tour
If you cannot visit the Japan Sake and Shochu Information Center, you can view the video on YouTube. You can further enhance your experience if you have a VR headset.
About Sake Brewery Tourism
Sake brewery tourism entails visiting various sake breweries, interacting with the brewers, and savoring local sake. It also includes enjoying the local cuisine and traditional cultures while exploring the land that produces the sake.
Here is a list of links for sake breweries in Japan that offer sake brewery tours.