Regional sake guide: Chubu Region

November 19, 2020 Alice Hama

Chubu Region is the central area of Japan’s mainland Honshu island, sitting between Kansai and Kanto Region. The Chubu Region covers Japan’s important industrial centers as well as well-known world natural heritage sites making it a great destination for traveling to Japan from the US. Nagoya in Aichi is the largest city in the region, which is a hub to giants in the automotive industry, such as Toyota, and the world-famous Mt. Fuji straddles the border between Yamanashi Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture.

You will meet this majestic Mt. Fuji when you are on the Shinkansen

Because the region stretches from coast to coast, from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean, the best time to travel Japan is all year-round as each prefecture enjoys diverse climatic and geographical features with unique food and sake culture.

Please refer to the important factors characterizing the regional style of sake.

Mie

Mie is home to about 34 breweries, with the majoritybased in Yokkaichi, Nabari, Iga and Tsu City. The prefecture is known for its high-quality Yamadanishiki rice and sake from the region tends to be full body and on a sweeter side to pair with local foods.

Local dish: Sukiyaki, tonteki (Japanese pork loin steak dish with savory sauce)

Sukiyaki is a perfect meal to be enjoyed during the cold season.

Aichi

Aichi is blessed with high-quality abundant water sources from The Kiso Three Rivers (Kiso Sansen). This region’s sake tends to be rich and umami-packed to pair with local dishes using rich tamari soy sauce and dark and flavorful miso, known as Haccho-miso.

Local dish: Doteni (beef simmered in red miso stew), tenmusu (shrimp tempura rice ball)

Doteni, rich in flavor (left) and savory tenmusu (right).

Shizuoka

Shizuoka is home to about 30 breweries. In the 1980s, Shizuoka Prefecture Industrial Research Institute developed a unique yeast called Shizuoka Kobo. It has a gentle ginjo-ka, or aromatics, making sake with fresh fruit flavor and round finish.

Local dish: Unagi eel with rice, kinmedai no nitsuke (snapper with soy-based broth)

Tippsy recommended sake:

Doi Brewing Company: Takatenjin “Soul of the Sensei”

Hananomai Brewing Company: Hananomai “Katana” Junmai Daiginjo

Omuraya Brewing Company: Wakatake “Onikoroshi” Junmai Daiginjo

Broth-soaked kinmedai no nitsuke, rich in umami.

Gifu

Gifu has mixed geographical features, which provide unique sake styles separating the North and the South. Northern sake tends to be rich and romantic where Southern sake focuses more on refreshing, dry style.

Local dish: Grilled ayu fish, Hida beef steak

Tippsy recommended sake:

Yamada Shoten: Yamada “Everlasting Roots”

Grilled ayu fish, seasoned with salt (left). Beautifully marbled raw Hida beef. Known for its tenderness and sweetness (right).

Nagano

Nagano is one of the largest sake regions in Japan, holding more than 80 breweries. The region is known for its original rice varieties such as Miyamanishiki and Hitogokochi, as well as specialized yeasts such as Association #7 and Alps Yeast, which provides sake with fruity aromatics.

Local dish: Soba noodle, katsudon (pork cutlet with rice)

Tippsy recommended sake:

Kurosawa Brewing Company: Kurosawa “Premium Reserve”

Soba noodle—enjoyed with dipping sauce when served chilled.

Yamanashi

Yamanashi is primarily known as Japan’s important wine country. However, with quality water flowing from the Southern Alps and Mt. Fuji, the region is home to approximately 13 breweries producing elegant and floral styles of sake.

Local dish: Hoto nabe (Flat noodles miso hot pot), motsuni (Japanese tripe stew)

Tippsy recommended sake:

Yamanashi Meijo: Shichiken “Junmai Ginjo”

Nice and chewy flat noodle of hoto nabe (left). Motsuni is often known for its compatibility with sake (right).

Fukui

Fukui has access to an abundant water source coming from Hakusan, a prominent mountain in Japan with water known for its fine mineral contents. The region uses the Gohyakumangoku rice variety, and sake from the region tends to be elegant, light and round.

Local dish: Crab hot pot, Chirashi sushi

Tippsy recommended sake:

Manatsuru Brewing Company: Mana “True Vision”

Ippongi Kubohonten: Denshin “Rin”

Katoukichibee Shouten: Born “Gold Muroka”

Tajima Brewing Company: Fukuchitose “Yamahai Junmai”

A simple set of crab hot pot, usually enjoyed during the cold season.

Ishikawa

Ishikawa also sources water from Hakusan. Its capital Kanazawa City was one of the largest commercial cities in the Edo Period (1603–1868) and is considered a culturally important gourmet city since then. Sake from the region tends to be very artisanal, reflecting each brewmaster’s technique and style.

Local dish: Duck hot pot, steamed snapper

Tippsy recommended sake:

Shata Brewing Company: Tengumai “Ryogin”

Kobori Brewing Company: Manzairaku “Yamahai Junmai”

Nishide Brewing Company: Nishide “100 Year”

Toyama

The North Alps provides Toyama with fine, soft water suitable for sake production. Once known to produce sweet style sake, with the adoption of modern technology, the region is starting to produce more crisp and dry style.

Local dish: Buri daikon (simmered yellowtail and daikon radish), Grilled nodoguro fish

A grilled nodoguro fish, filled with soft and juicy meat.

Niigata

Niigata is another sake making powerhouse, home to around 90 breweries, and records the highest sake consumption per capita in Japan. There are many traditional sake makers that are internationally recognized such as Kubota and Hakkaisan. Sake from the region tends to be “tanrei karakuchi” meaning elegantly clean and crisp.

Local dish: Sasazushi (sushi wrapped in bamboo leaves), Anglerfish hot pot

Tippsy recommended sake:

Niigata Meijo: Koshi no Kanchubai “Gold”

Miyao Brewing Company: Shimeharitsuru “Junmai Ginjo”

Shirataki Brewing Company: Jozen “Pink”

Sasazushi with seasoned vegetable toppings.
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Alice Hama

Certified Sommelier in wine and sake with more than 15 beverage and food-related certifications around the world, including Court of Master and WSET Sommeliers. Alice’s passion for wine and sake has taken her on many gastronomic adventures! She currently consults and writes for several importers, restaurants, and media outlets.

https://www.aliceinwinederland.com
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