The Shirayuki Kura Festival has been held for the first time in four years. A smash hit with sake lovers from all over Japan! Here’s a taste of what I experienced.
Home to Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport), Itami City in Hyogo Prefecture is one of the most distinguished sake-producing regions in Japan. Itami and Nadagogo have been designated as Japan Heritage sites with the story of “Itami Morohaku” and “Nada no Ki-ippon,” Kansai sake brews beloved in old Edo. They are the pioneers of the special sake made for the city of Edo (modern-day Tokyo), known as kudari sake.
For the first time in four years on February 12, 2023, the winter Shirayuki Kura Festival was hosted by Konishi Brewing, the maker of “Shirayuki,” one of Itami’s most renowned brands. 2023 marks the 26th year of the festival.
Under the banner of “Itami, the birthplace of sake. Cheers!”, the event was packed with attractions from Konishi Brewing, including sake sampling and food stalls.
The day of the event was blessed with good weather and the area around the venue became very crowded shortly after 10 a.m. Many fans of the festival had been waiting impatiently for this moment. Among the most sought-after drinks was the popular “Furumai-zake.”
A 100-meter line of people waited for a free taste of “Furumai-zake,” straight from “Shirayuki” barrels.
This sake was refreshing, with a deep flavor. I could feel the umami from the barrel that infuses the sake.
I had some deep-fried mochi rice with my first drink. The soft fluffy mochi had the salty-sweet flavor of soy sauce. The delicious snack was the perfect pairing for the sake.
At the venue, every booth had a long line.
What caught my eye was the wide selection of European food.
Delicacies like white German sausages, pretzels, and mini churros were also popular with children and others who could not drink alcohol.
At the “Hiyashibori” tasting booth, I compared three different types of sake with a fruity finish similar to white wine: Daiginjo, Junmai-ginjo, and Ginjo. At just 300 yen for three kinds including a choice of cheese or nuts, it was a real bargain.
My personal favorite was Junmai-ginjo Hiyashibori. Taking in the enticing fragrance combined with the refreshing flavor was a delicious experience. The refreshingly crisp taste is never tiresome and will have you coming back for more.
The Daiginjo Hiyashibori was particularly surprising. It’s very fruity with a lovely aroma. When a vote was held during the sampling event, this sake was declared the most popular.
Finally, I dropped by the Shirayuki Brewery Village Chojugura shop and picked up some sake from Konishi Brewing for my family. Prices are reasonable and it’s always nice to have at home.
Close to both Hankyu and JR Itami stations, it’s easy to find. We can always enjoy “Shirayuki” sake at the restaurants and shops of Shirayuki Brewery Village Chojugura.
Japanese sake fans rave about the light, slightly dry but rich flavor.
In Itami City, Itami Oimatsu Brewing Co., Ltd. is the other major sake brewery here.
You’re sure to fall in love with the brews from Itami, the birthplace of Japanese sake.
Shirayuki Brewery Village Chojugura Shop
Address: 3-4-15 Chuo, Itami City
Access: 5-minute walk from JR or Hankyu Itami stations