Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture.
When it comes to producing superior sake, the prefecture of Hyogo is the leader in the industry. Not only is Hyogo excelling in the volume of sake produced, but it is also one of the areas with the most advanced techniques and practises. For some of the country’s best sake and most beautiful scenery, this is the place to see.
Hyogo’s sake production dates back to the early 17th century, where the Japanese population was simply fascinated with the beverage. The production of the drink was limited to only about 12 villages, with the Hyogo region leading the production. The production of sake, however, was not done in mass quantities, but for centuries, was rather produced by small, individual brewers.
The focus and success of the region’s sake are largely to do with the prefecture’s natural conditions and ability to provide ideal resources.
What makes Hyogo ideal for sake production?
Hyogo’s high quality of rice, water sources and production technique makes it ideal for sake production.
Many areas of Hyogo, especially Nada, have high levels of clean water. This water plays a significant role in creating distinct sake characteristics and results in crisp aromas and flavours. The styles of this area are often described as Masculine, as opposed to the more traditional floral and fruity styles.
Another important factor is the high-quality rice that the villages in Hyogo are able to grow. The use of these quality raw materials is vital for producing sake of high quality.
How do you travel to Hyogo from Tokyo?
There are several ways to travel from Tokyo to Hyogo. Getting from Hyogo to Tokyo is relatively easy and can be a quick trip, depending on the mode of transport used.
The distance between the two areas is just over 400 miles, which is just over a 3-hour train trip. A bus trip, however, can take up to 9 hours and a car ride around five and a half hours. The quickest way to get to Hyogo, however, is by plane, which is just under 3 hours.
What is there to do and see in Hyogo?
Apart from quality sake, Hyogo offers several activities to do and places to see.
Considering Hyogo is quickly gaining popularity among tourists, there are more restaurants, resorts and activities emerging.
A unique activity, truly representative of a regional tour, is a knife-workshop. It is an activity popular with tourists, where you are able to mould your own steel knife and have your name engraved in it. It is a magnificent experience, truly bringing to life your inner craftsman.
Some of the places to visit include Himeji Castle, nestled in Hyogo forest. It is one of the most exceptional preserved infrastructures in Japan, holding its pristine condition for over 400 years. The Takeda Castle ruins is another popular destination, which consists of the 15th-century castle ruins. The ruins are so significant to Hyogo and Japan that many scenes in “The Last Samurai” were shot around these ruins.
Takeda Castle in Hyogo Prefecture 353 metres above sea level
So, although Hyogo’s recognition lies in their world-class sake, the region itself is a magnificent place to explore and experience, to truly get a sense of where it all started. It offers excellent insight into why the region’s sake is of the highest quality and why more tourists flock to the area every year.