ISHIKAWA SHUZO in Tokyo
Ishikawa Shuzo is a very picturesque brewery, with several historic, traditional Japanese style buildings on the grounds.
A "Sakabayashi (or Sugidama) made by threading Japanese cedar needles into a basket frame is displayed under the brewery eaves to tell that the new sake is ready. The needles are green when the globe is hung up, but gradually turn brown.
"Sakabayashi" at Ishikawa Shuzo
The tour started at the main sake storehouse (kura in Japanese). We found the inside of kura much cooler than outside. The guide person explained the sake making process (the rice polishing, washing and fermenting), and he emphasized the quality of water and air in Tama area.
If you want to see the sake making process that workers use long sticks to mix sake while fermenting is taking place, you should visit there in autumn.
The guide said that rice polishing refers to milling the rice’s outer surface to remove proteins, fats, and minerals that cause undesirable flavors in the sake. Thus, the more the rice grain has been shaved, the higher the quality of the sake will be.
A huge beer brewing caldron
Next we moved to the beer brewery area. You will see the beer production site. The second floor of the beer production building is used for wedding parties. Ishikawa Shuzo crafted beer during the Meiji Era, but then suspended the beer manufacturing for more than 100 years before resuming it in 1998.
A pair of 400-year-old Zelkova trees
You will see a huge beer brewing cauldron from 1887 that survived the war because it was buried in the yard. It should have been contributed to the government by metal collection during WWII. It was rediscovered and now it is enshrined by the family.
In the premises, there are also Ishikawa family’s residence with beautiful garden, shop, Italian restaurant where I had a quarto formaggio pizza with a glass of beer they brew on site, and a museum documenting their history.
At the end of the tour, you can taste three of their products for free. “Tamajiman” (Ishikawa Shuzo’s main brand), “Nama-zake”(Japanse sake which is not pasteurized at all after production) and “Umeshu” (also known as plum wine, spirits infused with plum and liquor).
"Tamajiman" is Ishikawa Shuzo's main sake. Their "Tamajiman Daiginjo" (top quality sake) has a beautiful and clear taste with the pleasant fragrance. A polished rice ratio of 35%.
HOW TO GET THERE: By train from Shinjuku
JR Shinjuku ===⇒JR Tachikawa ===⇒JR Haijima ==== Ishikawa Brew.
JR Chuo Line JR Ome Line walk
I went to JR Tachikawa (27 min. from JR Shinjuku Station by Express) where I changed to JR Ome Line to go to JR Haijima Station (12 min. from Tachikawa by Express), and walked about 20 min. to the brewery.
1 Kumakawa, Fussa City, Tokyo
Please refer to TOKYO TOURS