Episode-113: Kurabito Stay with Marika Tazawa

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With more travelers these days favoring unique experiences over a few days of leisure for their limited vacation days, Japan’s sake breweries have gradually been improving and expanding their offerings to both domestic and international visitors choosing to tick “sake journey” off their bucket list. An industry that’s largely sheltered itself from outside visitors for a significant chunk of recent history, many breweries are now for the first time figuring out how they can open themselves up to the possibility of tourism becoming a means of connecting with and growing their fanbase while developing a stable new form of reliable business.

In a climate where tastings and tours are gradually becoming standard offerings at sake breweries throughout the country, Marika Tazawa went a step further and gathered the attention of the wider sake industry when she launched Kurabito Stay back in March of 2020. Kurabito Stay was the first sake tourism business to offer regular opportunities to, as the website states: “Become a sake brewer”, to anyone with the time and means to make it to the town of Saku in Nagano for a few days. Offering a range of two and three-day programs where participants stay at the brewery and take part in the various processes of making sake, for anyone wanting to get closer to and develop a more personal and in-depth understand of sake through experience, Kurabito Stay has become a no-brainer.

Despite launching at the very beginning of one of the most challenging climates in recent history for tourism and travel, Kurabito Stay has now had over 400 participants take part in their range of sake-making programs from across the globe. Their success has demonstrated to the people and businesses of the region that there’s a unique appeal and potential in a synergistic relationship between sake and tourism for the future of rural Japan. With bookings now open for 2024 experiences, a new cycling program for visitors who want to spend a bit more time exploring the region, and a soon-to-be-announced second Kurabito Stay brewery partner prepping for their first programs (details in the show!), it seems that Kurabito Stay is indeed here to, well…stay.

This week Justin Potts sits down with Kurabito Stay owner and founder, Marika Tazawa, to discuss all of the above and more. You can stay up-to-date with what’s happening with Kurabito Stay experiences and life in the Nagano town of Saku by following along on their Instagram, or get the latest tour information and availability on their website.

Thanks for tuning in with us again this week. You can follow along with the team at Sake On Air also on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and you can reach us all directly with your thoughts or questions at questions@sakeonair.com.

There’s more Sake on Air headed your way again 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 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.