On March 10th, 2018, the Showa Cellar of the Kawagoe City Industrial Tourism Museum "Koedo Kurari" was remodeled and reborn into a facility where you can freely taste local sakes from Saitama Prefecture.
It is a very fun spot, but please be sure to drink responsibly!
For those of you thinking “just tell me how the system works” please click here。
- 1 A first in Saitama Prefecture! Brought to you by the Prefecture’s Local Sake PR Facility "Kikizake Dokoro"
- 2 A brief explanation of the Kikizake Dokoro system
- 3 How to enjoy Kikizake Dokoro Showa Kura
- 4 A sake recommendation for when you don’t know which one to choose.
- 5 For those who “want to drink Kagamiyama!”, go to the Kado Uchi (liquor store and bar) section of the Meiji Kura
- 6 Access to Koedo Kurari · Hours of Operation
- 7 I also went sake tasting at the Ryogoku “Tokyo Shoten (Shop)”
A first in Saitama Prefecture! Brought to you by the Prefecture’s Local Sake PR Facility "Kikizake Dokoro"
On March 10th, 2018, the Showa Cellar "Kura Ichiba" inside the Kawagoe City Industrial Tourism Hall’s "Koedo Kurari" underwent remodeling and is now the "Kikizake Dokoro".
It is a place where sake from all of the sake breweries in Saitama have been brought together in one building and is the first attempt within the prefecture of the establishment of such a facility.
In addition to coin-operated vending machines that allow you to freely compare local sakes one after another, there is a "Hakkou Bar section" at which you can enjoy fermented foods and a souvenir section that sells sake-related goods such as sake accessories, cosmetics, bath salts and more.
As it also sells things like “amazake (sweet sake)” and soft serve ice cream, those who do not drink alcohol can also fully enjoy themselves!
— 大泉 かずお (川越市議会議員） (@mizuyokazuo) 2018年3月10日
At the opening ceremony, the mayor of Saitama Prefecture came to visit.
What is “Koedo Kurari”?
Koedo Kurari is a city industrial tourism facility in the refurbished former building of the Kagamiyama Shuzo Sake Brewery founded in 1875.
On the premises there are three Kura (cellars) that have been designated as tangible cultural properties of Japan.
- The Meiji Kura: A cellar built in the Meiji Era. A souvenir shop.
- Taisho Kura: A cellar built in the Taidokoro Period. (Restaurants) Makani Dokoro.
- Showa Kura: A cellar built in the Showa Period. Also known as the Moto Kura Ichiba (market) (which sells locally produced vegetables etc.).
You can do a tasting of local sakes at the Showa Kura.
As a matter of fact, Saitama Prefecture is one of the best sake spots in Japan
Actually, Saitama Prefecture is known for being one of the top 5 sake spots in the country.
In the sake shipping volume ranking which is released every year, it is almost at the same level as Akita Prefecture, which is known as one of Japan's best sake spots.
Depending on the year, it sometimes beats Akita Prefecture in terms of shipping volume.
The Koedo Kurari "Kikizake Dokoro" was created to spread the culture of Saitama Sake to many people.
Drinking too much is strictly prohibited, but if you compare and learn about the various local sakes and think that "Saitama Prefecture also has sake that is this delicious", it would make me happy as a citizen of Saitama.
Winner of a GOLD Medal at the IWC 2018 SAKE Awards!
In May of 2018, local sake from Saitama Prefecture received a Gold medal at the "SAKE Awards" of the "IWC (International Wine Challenge)" held each year in London! (Total number of sake bottles exhibited: 223)
- 「力士 大吟醸 袋しぼり 斗瓶囲い」Rikishi daikinjou fukuro shibori tobingakoi (Kazo City)
- 「帝松 大吟醸 原酒」Mikadomatsu daikinjou genshu (Ogawamachi)
- 「界」Sakai (Saitama city)
- 「文楽 純米大吟醸袋吊無濾過原酒中汲み」Bunraku junmaidaiginjou fukurotsuri mu roka genshu nakagumi (Ageo City)
- 「文楽 純米吟醸」Bunraku Junmai Ginjo (Ageo City)
- 「文楽 純米大吟醸」Bunraku Junmai Daiginjo (Ageo City)
- 「菊泉 大吟醸」Kikuizumi Daiginjo (Fukaya City)
A brief explanation of the Kikizake Dokoro system
Within the facility special medals are used.
Cash cannot be used except for purchasing souvenirs.
First, buy medals from the "Nomikurabe you (for drink comparing) medal vending machine (it only accepts 500 yen coins)".
Each 500 yen coin allows you to purchase 4 medals.
If you do not have a 500 yen coin, please change a 1,000 yen bill in to two 500 yen coins using the exchange machine located right next to the medal machine.
Bills that are 2000 yen or larger can be exchanged at the "register" section.
- Get an ochoko (cup for drinking sake) from the case next to the medal machine.
- Put a medal into a “Kiki Zake” sake tasting vending machine and place the ochoko in the guided position.
Select your desired sake and press the button.
- After the sake has been poured into the ochoko, carefully take out the ochoko.
- You can purchase snacks (that go with alcohol) at the shop located on the opposite side across from the counter.
Snacks require 1~3 medals depending on the snack.
- Leftover medals can be exchanged and used to purchase water or rice crackers (for 1 medal) at the shop.
The main points are summarized below.
- Get 4 medals with a 500 yen coin.
- One cup of sake costs 1 medal.
- 1 to 3 medals are required for snacks.
- Leftover medals can be used to purchase items that can be taken home.
...In short, for a 500 yen you can...
- get 4 cups of sake OR
- You can enjoy 2 cups of sake + 1 snack item (depending on the snack)
However, since you can purchase as many medals as you like, in reality, there are a number of a ways to enjoy yourself.
You can also make nurukan and atsukan with a hot water bath
On days when the hot sake machine "kan douko" is available, you can enjoy warm sake (nurukan) or hot sake (atsukan).
Usage is as follows.
- Get an ochoko with sake already in it.
- Pour the sake from the ochoko into a “chirori”.
- Place the chirori into the Kan douko to warm it up. You just need to hook the handle of the chirori into the edge of the Kan douko
Use the (1 minute) hourglass next to the kan douka to keep track of time.For warm sake (nurukan) warm it for 1 minute and for hot sake (atsukan) warm it carefully for 2 minutes.
- Take out the chirori after the desired amount of time and pour the sake back into the ochoko.
- Please return the used chirori to the same return slot as the ochoko.
+ Here are the recommended sake brands for consuming cold, warm and hot! (Click or tap to open and close)
- 「秩父錦」Chichibu Nishiki
- 「金紋世界鷹」Kinmon Sekaitaka
- 「花陽浴」Hana Abi (Extremely rare. Most likely only available during events)
- 「金紋世界鷹」Kinmon Sekaitaka
- 「亀甲花菱」Kikou Hanabishi
How to enjoy Kikizake Dokoro Showa Kura
When I enthusiastically visited on opening day, I became the 1st regular customer.
The full experience of a Japanese sake spot right from the entrance!
Enjoy the sake tasting
This is a coin-operated vending machine for sake.
There are four machines in total (Each machine has 10 brands, so there are 40 brands in total), so search for a machine with your favorite sake brand.
Yokozeki Sakazo Sake Brewery’s (Misatocho) "Tennin Daiginjo", was the most popular brand on opening day.
Although it’s only an ochoko, it’s quite a deal to be able to drink this Daiginjo at the price of 125 yen.
Snacks, amazake (sweet sake) and non-alcoholic beverages are available at the shop
At the shop, you can exchange your medals for snacks made from local vegetables from Saitama Prefecture, soft serve cream and non-alcoholic beverages such as water, Amazake, and more.
When I got my ice cream cone from the clerk, I thought "there isn’t much ice cream in this cone...", but it was jam packed from the bottom of the cone to the top.
About Matsumoto Shoyu
Slightly expensive sakes are available at the shop
Local sakes can be purchased at the shop starting at 2 medal.
Get your favorite local sake as a souvenir
It is also possible to purchase local sake as a souvenir and take it home.
In addition to Japanese sake, you can purchase fruit liqueurs such as plum wine and Yuzu liqueur produced in Saitama Prefecture.
Other than the local sake souvenirs, there is the "Hakkou Bar" (Fermentation bar)
At the "Hakkou Bar" section, you can buy fermented foods produced in Saitama Prefecture.
Since these are all souvenirs, you can pay for them with cash at the "register" section.
Also, it is not permitted to open and eat things purchased from this section inside the building.
※ Of course, it is ok to eat them at the benches outside the building!
Enjoy souvenirs other than food and drink
The souvenirs aren’t just local sakes and fermented foods.
A sake recommendation for when you don’t know which one to choose.
I think there are many people who “don’t know which sake to choose to drink when there are 40 different brands”.
As a result, I tried making a list of particularly popular brands.
- Kinmon Sekaitaka (Koyama honke brewery / Saitama city)
- Biwa no Sasa Nami (Asahara Brewery / Moroyamamachi)
- Koedo (Koedo Kagamiyama Brewery / Kawagoe City)
- Tenranzan (Igarashi Brewery / Hanno City)
- Mikadomatsu （Matsuoka Brewery / Ogawamachi）
- Chichibu Nishiki （Yao Honten / Chichibu City）
- Kikou Hanabishi (Shimizu Brewery / Kazo City)
- Shinkame (Shinkame Brewery / Hasuda City)
- Kanbai (Kanbai Brewery / Kuki City)
For women and those who say that "honesty, sake isn’t really my thing, I just ended here with a friend ..." the "Wine Yeast Prepared ARROZ " is highly recommended.
Unlike traditional Japanese sake, it’s very fruity.
For those who “want to drink Kagamiyama!”, go to the Kado Uchi (liquor store and bar) section of the Meiji Kura
"Kagamiyama" is a representative local sake of Kawagoe .
Unfortunately, this sake is not available at the Showa Kura Kikizake Dokoro.
(The only sakes from the Koedo Kagamiyama Brewery available at the Kikizake Dokoro are "Koedo" and "Toki no Kane")
If you want to drink Kagamiyama sake, please go to the" Koedo Kagamiyama Brewery" section of the Meiji Kura (at the souvenir shop).
You can get Kagamiyama there.
If you find a favorite taste, definitely buy a bottle as a souvenir to take home!
Access to Koedo Kurari · Hours of Operation
A 15 minute walk from JR · Tobu Tojo Line "Kawagoe Station"
A 3 minute walk from the Seibu Shinjuku Line “Honkawagoe station”
Hours of Operation 11: 00-19: 00
No last order
I checked with the shop staff regarding a last order time and they said,
"Because we have not decided on a particular last order time, you can make an order up until the last minute.
However, because it is impossible to prepare exactly enough snacks and perishable items, the snacks might be out of stock near closing hours.
I also went sake tasting at the Ryogoku “Tokyo Shoten (Shop)”
Actually, there are similar facilities in the Ryogoku area of the Sumida Ward in Tokyo.
The place is right next to JR Ryogoku Station (the place where Hanano Mai used to be), "Tokyo shoten" in "-Ryogoku- Edo NOREN".
Here, they offer 30 brands of local sake from 10 breweries in Tokyo.
Prices range from 200 yen to 400 yen per ochoko.
At Kurari’s Kikizake Dokoro, it is 125 yen per cup, so Kawagoe is better in terms of the cost performance.
On the other hand, they were not many vegetables available.
There should be good quality local vegetables and brand vegetables in the 23 wards of Tokyo too ....
There was also equipment for making hot sake (atsukan)
Transfer the sake from the ochoko to the "chirori" and attach the handle to the corner of the device to warm it up.
Insert a dedicated thermometer to check the status of the sake heating.
According to a guide table that was placed nearby, the sake is quite warm around 40 degrees, hot at 50 degrees and at 55 degrees and over, it is said to be “tobikirikan" which translates to “piping hot sake" .
... while chatting with a friend, it went up to nearly 60 degrees in no time.
It warms up faster than you expect, so be very careful!
Koedo Kurari Kikizake Dokoro- a facility in Saitama where you can compare and drink 40 kinds of sake.
Of course, drinking too much is not permitted, but I think that this is a very good facility where you can causally learn about the sake culture of Saitama.
Please visit and feel free to drop in while sightseeing in Kawagoe!