Updated: Sep 25, 2021
Brewery Iinuma Honke draws on 300 years of history to offer tours, tasting and more.
The Iinuma family has been dedicated to developing sake at their brewery in Chiba Prefecture for more than 15 generations. Today, they offer visitors an opportunity to find out not only how sake is made but also how it can be best enjoyed.
History and legend
Iinuma Honke is steeped in history. It was established sometime between 1688 and 1703, when a coordinator of local farmers began using the area’s surplus rice to make sake. The local village, Shisui, was built on three rivers fed by spring water from nearby mountains and was full of rich soil that allowed the development of rice paddies, so it was believed high-quality sake could be produced.
Indeed, Shisui became renowned for sake. Literally meaning “sake well,” the small town was granted its name after a local legend arose that sake gushed from the ground. A monumental tablet honouring the town’s Well of Sake is located in the grounds of nearby Enpuku-in Jingu temple.
Iinuma Honke retains much of its original character. The signboard of the first brewery hangs at the entrance to the grounds. There are buildings and paraphernalia dating from the Edo period (1603–1868) and Meiji era (1868–1912). Look out for the traditional sugidama (a ball of cedar leaves that turns brown when sake is ready to drink) and the small shrine where staff pray for quality sake.
Tour, taste and experience
Take the guided tour for a comprehensive introduction and up-close look at each step of the sake-making process, from steaming, soaking and polishing the rice to fermenting, filtering and pasteurizing the sake. You can even find out how bottles are sealed and packed.
The onsite Shisui Magariya facility is designed for sake appreciation. Try the company’s many varieties during a tasting or explore the gallery. Anyone not drinking can enjoy a homemade malted drink at the cafe.
Check out the unique souvenirs, local specialties and foods suitable for sake pairings, including vegetables harvested and pickled by the company. There are displays of Iinuma Honke’s award-winning sake as well as a huge variety of sake for sale. More than three quarters of the company’s brands are available only at this shop.
A number of experiences, such as sake making, rice planting, rice harvesting and plum wine making, are also on offer.
Find out more
For full details of what Iinuma Honke offers, visit its website.