The Ultimate Sake Brewery Bar Crawl in Kobe

Many of Kobes sake breweries were destroyed in the 1995 earthquake, and have been rebuilt stronger – and better – than ever
Many of Kobe's sake breweries were destroyed in the 1995 earthquake, and have been rebuilt stronger – and better – than ever | © David Kleyn / Alamy Stock Photo
Paul Feinstein

Travel Expert

Kobe is world-renowned for its succulent cuts of A5 steak. But one of the truly underrated parts of this seaside escape are the dozens upon dozens of sake breweries that you can tour. Oh, and did we mention the tastings are free?

Kobe is most famous for its beef, but one of the best experiences the city has to offer is a sake bar crawl

The city of Kobe holds a certain mystique for travellers and carnivores around the globe. Its namesake beef (actually a strain of Wagyu beef that is prized for its unique tenderness), is world-famous for its marbled fat that simply melts upon hitting your tongue. But if you were to only visit Kobe for its sizzling steaks, you’d be missing out on its sumptuous sake. One of the true hidden treasures of Kobe is in the neighbourhood of Nada, where you can discover dozens of sake breweries that offer cheap or free tastings along with history lessons on their unique rice wine region. So, if you’re ready to walk off that belly full of beef, lace up your trainers, and get prepped for the ultimate sake brewery bar crawl.

Most sake breweries offer free tastings, so you can try even if you don’t want to buy

Stop 1: Sawanotsuru Sake Museum


First things first. Download this incredibly helpful map because by the fifth or sixth stop, you might not be seeing straight. You can also follow the route on Google Maps. Then, starting from the Oishi train station, walk south to the Sawanotsuru Sake Museum, which takes you on a history lesson of sake through its small gallery. After learning about Edo-period sake brewing methods, you can get a taste of the unpasteurised Namazake while contemplating which bottle to buy from their expansive shop. The best part of this experience? It’s all free.

Stop 2: Kobe Shushinkan Brewery

Bar, Japanese

Home of Fukuju premium sake, the Kobe Shushinkan is about a 20-minute walk to the east of Sawanotsuru and well worth the hike. The Fukuju name comes from Fukurokuju, one of the Seven Lucky Gods in Japanese mythology, which represents happiness, wealth, and longevity. Here you’ll get a tour of the brewery and a tasting of their best sake blend. All of this is free as well, but you need to make an appointment at least two days in advance. There’s also a traditional restaurant on site, so you might want to fill up before the rest of the sake tasting day ahead.

Stop 3: Izumi Syuzou Sake Brewery


One of the smallest sake breweries in the region, Izumi Syuzou has a history that dates to 1756, but like many of the breweries in the area, was destroyed in the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Rebuilt stronger than ever, the Izumi Sake Brewery now sells their branded Sensuke and Kosen high-quality sakes, and you can try them both for free before deciding to purchase any for the road. This small spot only makes 40,000 bottles a year, so get it while it lasts.

Stop 4: Hakutsuru Sake Brewery

Brewery, Museum

Part-brewery, part-museum, the Hakutsuru brewery is the biggest sake factory in Japan and showcases the classic style of making sake through life-sized mannequins and original equipment strewn through the warehouse. After peering at the interactive displays, you’ll get a chance to try both pasteurised and unpasteurised sakes for free and you’ll quickly understand why this is the best-selling brand of sake in Japan. Selfies with the sake-making mannequins are encouraged.

Stop 5: Kiku-Masamune Sake Brewery

Brewery, Museum

This ancient brewer has been refining their rice wine since 1659 and is still run by the same family who started things more than 350 years ago. Inside there’s a museum that retells the family history and how they’ve made sake throughout the centuries. Along with free tastings, the gift shop here has an impressive collection of sake cups for sale as well as snacks like Narazuke pickles and Sakamanju (sake-flavored sweet buns) that utilise Junmai Ginjo sake for their unique flavour.

Stop 6: Hamafukutsuru Ginjo Kobo

Brewery, Museum

At Hamafukutsuru, you can actually witness sake being made through large windows on the second floor. There’s also a self-guided tour where you can once again, learn the history and process of sake making (if you weren’t so buzzed, you would be an expert by now!). This award-winning spot is known for its Ginjo sake and after the tour, you’ll get a chance to sample a few different kinds for free. As this is the last stop on this sake crawl, you should also pay for the Kisake corner where you can try many other kinds of sake.

Final tip:

This sake crawl covers 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) and will easily last half a day or more. You might want to consider renting bikes as there are dozens of other sake factories along this route. Bring a backpack, bring some snacks, and be prepared for the best sake crawl of your life.

Consider renting a bike for this sake crawl
culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.