att.JAPAN’s selection of 5 recommended Japanese alcoholic beverages. Check them out before hanami season!

The representative feature of spring in Japan is hanami (cherry blossoms viewing). It is forecasted that the blooming will occur earlier than usual in 2020. I guess some people are looking forward to viewing beautiful cherry blossoms while they enjoy drinking. This article will introduce you to 5 alcoholic beverages recommended by the att.JAPAN editors! I hope this article will help you when you go for hanami or choose souvenirs from Japan.

Check out the series of “Drinking in Japan.”




Fruit Liquor:

Sake that will never make you tire of drinking it: “Kakurei”

As one of the biggest rice producing areas in Japan as well as an active sake producing area using local rice, Niigata Prefecture should be a kingdom of sake with the largest number of sake breweries in Japan producing a variety of sake.

“Kakurei” is produced by Aoki Shuzo Brewery, which was established in 1717 in Minami-Uonuma City. This is one of the most popular brands in the area. It is very refreshing, but not dry with the sweetness of rice, making it called “tanrei-umakuchi.”

I had never tried this sake, which was served with sushi with local fresh seafood in Niigata City. I thought the sake went perfectly well with fatty fish! The umami of sushi and the umami of sake enhance each other.

I fell in love with this sake, so I have bought it several times for myself. It goes well with Japanese home-made dishes, such as grilled fish, making it perfect for everyday drinking.



Dry but fruity sake: “Kiyoizumi”

Another recommended brand from Niigata is “Kiyoizumi” by Kusumi Shuzo Brewery, which also has been in business for a long time since 1833. This brewery is the brewery that appears in a popular manga and TV drama series “Natsuko-no-sake.” “Kiyoizumi” is especially recommended for those who prefer dry. It is surely dry, yet offers a citrusy aroma, making it a very refreshing one.

I tried “Kiyoizumi” with hegisoba, Niigata’s local dish.

Hegisoba is soba noodles made with funori seaweed, which makes them a bit slimy. It goes very well with crispy “Kiyoizumi.

Without any strong flavor or aftertaste, it goes well with any kind of dish. Please take a look at the cool label design.


Highly praised sake by world’s VIP: “Toyo Bijin”

Yamaguchi Prefecture, which is located at the westernmost part of the main island, is one of the big sake producing areas, with the brewery which produces the worldly-famous “Dassai.” “Toyo Bijin” by Sumikawa Brewery has been awarded at various competitions. It is so popular that it is said to be difficult to get one, but it is available at many liquor stores and izakaya pubs in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

“Toyo Bijin” was born as a result of the pursuance of an ideal sake production. Among other varieties of “Toyo Bijin,” “Ichiban Matoi” Junmai Daiginjo variety is the best one with a rich sophisticated flavor. It was served at the Japan Russia Summit in 2016, which Russian President Putin reportedly liked very much.

This great sake is perfect for a special occasion, as a gift to your precious one, or as a treat to yourself.

Made with natural water from mountains: “Kirishima Kogen Beer”

The next recommended alcoholic beverage in Japan is beer. Along with the continuous boom of craft beer in Japan, there are various kinds of craft beer all over Japan. Among others, I especially prefer “Kirishima Kogen Beer,” from Kirishima City, Kagoshima Prefecture.

As many know, Kagoshima Prefecture is a big shochu producing area. This beer maker used to be a shochu brewery, which went into beer making. Based on barley and hops from Czech, the world’s beer kingdom, along with natural water from Mount Kirishima with abundant wilderness, the beer offers an authentic taste.

Kirishima is famous for Black Beef and Black Pork brands. The combination of the strong taste of the beer and the barbeque was just wonderful!


A sophisticated taste of Tokyoite: “Denki Bran”

Located near Senso-ji Temple, Kamiya Bar has always been crowded for years. The founder of the bar created a cocktail called “Denki Bran.”

At that time when modernization was progressing, anything new was called “Denki” at the beginning of it. As this cocktail is based on brandy, it was named “Denki Bran.”

The addition of gin, wine, curacao, medical herbs to brandy creates the unique taste. With a relatively high alcoholic content of 30, it is a relatively strong drink, but it goes well with traditional Western dishes with mild tastes, such as crab cream croquettes and chicken rice.

I also recommend “Denki Bran sour,” with the tartness of lemon and sweet taste of Denki Bran, creating a great harmony.

After viewing the beautiful cherry blossoms around Sumida River, visit Kamiya Bar to have a glass of Denki Bran. It may be a new adult way of enjoying hanami.

Enjoy drinking moderately along with beautiful spring in Japan!

*In Japan, drinking under the age of 20 is prohibited by law.


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The information herein is as of January 2020
I am Ayumi from Chiba Prefecture. I love sweets. I majored in Japanese history in my university. I have visited many historic sites from the ancient days to the modern days on my trips. I have visited about 100 castles of various sizes. I am also obsessed with visiting “anime pilgrimage sites,” the locations featured in popular anime and manga.

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