Episode-91: Sake Travel Episode 4: Niigata City

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We’re continuing on our Sake Travel series this week with a visit to the city of Niigata. While the entire prefecture of Niigata is littered with fantastic sake destinations, we’ve decided to narrow the scope just a bit and save our explorations into the greater region for another day. That being said, we’ve dabbled in Nagaoka and Sado Island as part of our previous episodes, which are you can tune into now if you’re seeking a deeper exploration into the larger region right this minute.

In order to help us do this great city justice we’ve recruited Tomomi Duquette to the show this week, founder and director of Niigata Sake Lovers, not to mention a prolific educator and navigator throughout the larger world of sake in general.

In this week’s discussion we more-or-less arrived at the conclusion that a visit to Niigata should start (and end) with a visit to Tabi Bar and Ponshukan – both located right inside Niigata Station – but where you go from there is really up to you.

When it comes to drinks and dining we touch upon Furumachi Jikon, Bit, Armonia, Ponshu Girl, Suzuki Sengyoten (for the early-risers), Minato Sushi, and more. If you’re in town at the right time, there’s Furumachi Burarizake (Furumachi Pub/Izakaya Crawl), the (in)famous sake festival, Sake no Jin, and the recent Niigata brewing industry mainstay, the Niigata Jozo (Brewing) Summit.

For those looking to explore the wider world of Niigata brewing and beverage, spending a night in the neighboring fermentation town of Nuttari is a must, not to mention the ever-growing Niigata Wine Country and the enjoyment of Japan’s first craft beer brewery, along with a handful of other great local beer producers.

For sake brewery tours, Imayotsukasa is an easy (and highly recommended) visit, as well as DHC for its hospitality and welcoming setup at Kayamatei tasting room and cafe. The brand new doburoku-centric producer (and café), Lagoon Brewery, is new entry making an impact thanks to its great sake and beautiful location.

If you’re looking for something on your way in (or out) of town, we touch on a few sake-centric or heavily sake-influenced excursions, including Kamosu Mori and the surrounding onsen region (not to mention Tomomi’s new brewery project), or a visit to Tsubame Sanjo to explore the insane level of craftsmanship in metal working, producing some of the world’s most sought after culinary knives and the most inspiring copper wares north of the equator.

Niigata is incredibly accessible, yet still resting firmly in Hidden Gem status. As much as we’d like to keep it all to ourselves, we thought you deserved to enjoy it as much as we do on your next visit to Japan.

For more sake explorations and regional adventures, follow along with us at @sakeonair on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook, or if you’d like to share your thoughts or questions with the hosts, please reach out to us at questions@sakeonair.com. We’ll be back with more Sake On Air in just a couple of weeks.

Until then, kampai!

Sake On Air is made possible with the generous support of the Japan Sake & Shochu Makers Association and is recorded and broadcast from the Japan Sake & Shochu Information Center in Tokyo. The show is brought to you by Potts.K Productions with audio production by Frank Walter. Our theme, “Younger Today Than Tomorrow” was composed by forSomethingNew for Sake On Air.