When people think of Japanese alcohol, they almost inevitably think of sake, and with good reason! More accurately known as nihonshu, or “Japanese alcohol,” the rice-wine drink has played an essential role in Japanese culture for centuries.

But as delicious as some may find it, it’s not for everyone, even if drinking it would make you healthy, wealthy, and wise… or at least healthier. The taste can take a little getting used to, so it’s hardly surprising to find someone who’d rather just have a nice cold beer. But maybe they’re just drinking the wrong sake!


Recently, a writer for our Japanese sister-site Pouch headed out to Yamanashi to try some nihonshu produced by the 300-year-old sake brewer Yamanashi Meijo. Though not the oldest sake brewer in Japan, these folks aren’t any spring chickens either!

As our dedicated writer explained, she’s not much of a nihonshu drinker, despite having tried it on numerous occasions. This makes her a great test subject for those of us who don’t have the most developed palettes—if she doesn’t like it, we’ll know to stay away!


Arriving at the brewer, she found a lovely shop with a beautiful interior and tantalizing displays of nihonshu bottles just waiting for the party to begin. And wasting no time, she gulped down a glass of “Nakaya Ihee.”


Her reaction? “The moment I put ‘Nakaya Ihee’ in my mouth I was shocked… Can nihonshu can be this delicious!?

According to our adventurous writer, the nihonshu had an “airy, vibrant smell” as well as a “really sweet and fresh fruity taste.” She added that the aftertaste was very invigorating and not at all overbearing. “It was like being in another world. Exactly like a taste of Shangri-la!”

Even as someone who generally doesn’t go for nihonshu, our writer fell in love with the sweet drink and quickly bought a bottle to bring home with her. If you’re tempted to pick some up yourself, a 700ml bottle costs 4,000 yen (roughly US$40).


Of course, the brewer produces other fine drinks as well. Their best known is “Shichiken,” or “Seven Wise Men,” which was first made in 1750 by the founder of the brewer. If you’re looking for a “traditional” Japanese drink, you’ve found it! A mere 2,490 yen (about $25) will get you a 720 ml bottle.


On the other hand, if you’re not much of a drinker but you’re feeling a bit adventurous, you’ll want to pick up a small Amazake bottle. This is a sweet sake drink, made by mixing the lees, the yeast leftover from wine production, with sugar. We’re sure it tastes better than it sounds. A 150ml bottle will only set you back 150 yen (about $1.50).



In addition to the store front, you can also visit the actual brewery in the winter, so if you happen to be in Yamanashi Prefecture towards the end of the year, be sure to swing by. If nothing else, their sake is sure to put some warmth in your belly!


Yamanashi Meijo
Location: 2283 Daigahara, Hakusyu-cho, Hokuto-city, Yamanashi Prefecture
Phone number: 0551-35-2236
E-mail address:
[ Read in Japanese ]