Explore the major sake brewing region, Fukuoka, on the southern island of Kyushu and visit three breweries during the brewing season. The brewers and rice growers will share their philosophies and approaches with the group during the tours and at meals.
Taste sake just-pressed for the season right at the source and with meals. In addition to sake, shochu and wine from the brewers we visit will be in the mix.
The Kyushu tour is going to be for adventurous foodies bringing together the rich culinary and sake cultures of Fukuoka.
Start the tour by meeting brewers and end the day with sake paired with the freshest fugu blowfish sashimi at your welcome dinner. Continue the quest with a shop-to-shop ramen crawl in Hakata, casual pop-up oyster BBQ, and mysterious but tasty creatures from Ariake-kai Bay.
For refined palates, a taste of the best super premium gyokuro tea from Yame will be a real treat.
On the final day, you will visit a cooking studio in Kumamoto where white smoke rises from the ground everywhere and steam your own vegetables in geothermal vents.
See the best of Kyushu by exploring distinctively different sceneries. Enjoy the coastline on the Japan Sea Coast side of Kyushu as we visit sake rice growers in Itoshima and an artist’s pottery studio in Karatsu.
See the fertile Tsukushi Plains along the Chikugo River flowing into Ariake-kai Bay.
In the historic town of Yanagawa, enjoy exploring the city on foot and cruise the canals tucked under a cozy, heated kotatsu tables in every boat. Then, drive into deep mountainous area in Yame to see the tea plantation and to play a tea tasting game.
On the last evening, soak in open-air hot springs with a magnificent view of the mountains in Yufuin, Oita.
Travel on your own to Hakata via JR or fly from Haneda to Fukuoka with the group in the morning. The flight is not included in the tour cost.
Visit the first sake brewery, Mori no Kura. Mori no Kura is located in the area called Jojima which is a major brewing center in Fukuoka that developed in the plains along the river. Our host today, Mori no Kura, brew only junmai sake with locally produced Fukuoka rice. They take an environmentally conscious approach to making shochu. Mori no Kura uses the sake lees as the source ingredient for their shochu the remaining byproducts become fertilizer for sake rice paddies, closing the cycle. Your welcome dinner at a local izakaya pub showcases dishes Fukuoka is famous for: artfully sliced paper thin flower petal of fugu blowfish sashimi, live squid sashimi, mentaiko spicy cod roe made right at the restaurant, and more.
Hotel: Hakata Excel Tokyu
Meals: lunch, dinner with sake
Begin the day by visiting artisanal salt maker in Itoshima by the sea. Today’s lunch is at pop-up oyster BBQ place by the port where you cook your own oysters on a sizzling grill. Enjoy locally farmed oysters and other shellfish with sake. After lunch, visit Karatsu in Saga, a famous pottery region, and tour an artist’s studio to find earthy sake vessels to bring home.
In the evening, be adventurous and explore the food scenes in Hakata on your own. You are staying in Nakasu area just a few steps away from tons of ramen, yatai food stalls, and gyoza places along the river. Enjoy the night life of Fukuoka, international gateway of Kyushu.
Hotel: Hakata Excel Tokyu
Meals: Breakfast; lunch with sake
Today is dedicated to discovering the southern part of Fukuoka. Our first stop is Kitaya Brewery in Yame. Meet the brewers who were awarded the IWC Champion Sake title in 2013 for their Daiginjo. Today’s lunch is treats from Ariake-kai Bay so rare that most Japanese have never tried them. See what the creatures from the bay look like in a local fish store, then taste them when the fishmonger serves them up at a few casual tables in the back. After this wild and curious lunch, relax on the cruise as a sendo boatman paddles you through the canals. They will make sure you keep warm under a heated kotatsu table on the boat. Kurume where we spend the night is famous for yakitori. Enjoy smoky chicken on skewers with savory Fukuoka sake.
Hotel: Kurume Hotel Esprit
Meals: Breakfast; lunch with sake ; dinner with sake
Drive deep into the mountains of Yame in Fukuoka. We will pass through rolling hills covered with deep green tea plantations on our way to a tasting of premium gyokuro shizuku tea. It is brewed from hand-picked young leaves and only a few drops of hot water in a small cup to yield only a few precious drops. Here at Hoshi No Furusato Tea Center, you will also learn everything about Japanese tea and taste five different kinds of tea. Then, continue by car through the mountains to emerge on the fertile plains for a winery, shochu distillery, and sake brewery visit with the Hayashida family. Lunch overlooks stunning views of the vinyard where they grow Kyoho grapes, giant plum like premium fruit developed in the area with a support from the Hayashida family. Meet the sake brewer and hear the fascinating story of how the family contributed to the development of the area. We will drive about 90 minutes to close the day at Yufuin, Oita. Simply relax at the onsen hot springs in this renowned resort that draws bathers from all over the world.
Hotel: Japanese style inn and onsen hot springs
Meals: Breakfast; lunch with wine and sake, dinner with sake
Today’s adventure takes you to a rural village in Kumamoto rarely visited by foreigners. Steam rises from the ground everywhere here, and this geothermal resource is used for everything from heating the floors to drying food. You will visit a cooking studio run by Yamaguchi Brewery who produce Niwa no Uguisu. Here cook vegetables using natural steam from the deep in the earth. Savor a light lunch with some vegetables steamed this morning and dishes specially prepared for you. Finally, a car will take you to Fukuoka Airport, then to Hakata where you can continue your travel from JR Hakata or stay for extra couple of nights.
Meals: Breakfast; lunch
To be announced
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