Mellow Cultural Outings for Sophisticated Tastes Discover Tokyo’s Rich Cultural Tapestry

Tokyo’s vibrant city center is an enthralling tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors each year from across Japan and around the world. But sometimes, you just want to take time out and escape the hustle and bustle, to recharge your batteries and visit places away from well-worn tourist routes. This time, we have selected spots where you can learn about and enjoy historic traditions and culture firmly rooted in local communities, but which are also innovating with the changing times. These mellow outings will appeal to well-seasoned travelers with sophisticated tastes, revealing another side of Tokyo, a greater diversity of lifestyles, and a richer cultural tapestry. These articles, part of an ongoing series, were produced with assistance from three local municipalities: Fussa, Kunitachi, and Mizuho, to introduce visitors to a wider range of unique experiences across Tokyo. We delve into (and taste) traditional and modern sake and beer brewing at Ishikawa Brewery in Fussa City, and explore Japan’s unique heritage of urban agriculture at Hatakenbo in Kunitachi City. Finally, we visit Koshinkan, in Mizuho Town, an Edo period (1603-1868) , house with a fascinating history.

A Tokyo Brewery Producing Traditional Sake and Hip Craft Beer(Fussa City)
A Farming Encounter in Suburban Tokyo(Kunitachi City)
Koshinkan—Travel Back in Time at this Beautiful Historic Home(Mizuho Town)

Ishikawa Brewery (Fussa City)A Tokyo Brewery Producing Traditional Sake and Hip Craft Beer

Ishikawa Brewery is “a theme park for all sake and beer enthusiasts,” offering an opportunity to learn about sake and the brewing process, and to enjoy tastings and fine cuisine, in a picturesque, historical setting. Just over an hour from Shinjuku by train followed by a 15-minute walk, yet it feels a world away—the perfect opportunity to escape the city. Why not take the brewery tour, then relax while enjoying great food accompanied by sake and craft beer brewed on-site while admiring the lush garden surroundings?
"Tamajiman" sign above the entrance to Ishikawa Brewery
The history of the Ishikawa Brewery dates back to 1863, when it borrowed the warehouse of its sister company, Morita Brewery, and began brewing sake. In 1883, the brewery moved to its current location. The sake produced here has undergone various changes, and today, the brand name "Tamajiman" is used. The company brews sake using traditional techniques, but being a small-scale brewery allows it to also pursue innovation and creativity in its choice of ingredients, including its selection and blending of brewing yeasts.
An outing to Ishikawa Brewery is a terrific opportunity to learn about sake brewing, to enjoy great food and drink in a beautiful, historical setting, and to appreciate the brewery’s fascinating past and its modern innovation.
Visitors can join a tour to see inside the main brewhouse and learn about the facilities, but even if you do not take part in the tour, you can still see the main brewhouse and other facilities not included in the tour for free of charge and learn about them at your own pace with an English-language map in hand.
On the two-hour tour, offered in English, visitors will be guided through the large wooden main cellar, which was built in 1880 and is still used for brewing today. You can also learn from the guide about the process of making sake, which changes its taste depending on ingredients and blends used. The design of this building maintains an ideal ambient air temperature for the fermentation process, explained in detail on the tour. The experience concludes with optional sake tastings. By tasting and comparing the different types of sake, you can actually appreciate the profundity of Japanese sake.

A brewer using a paddle to mix the yeast starter and main mash (photographed with special permission; not included in brewery tours)

An explanation of characteristics of the yeast strains used (photographed with special permission, in an area not visited on brewery tours)

In response to the increasing Westernization of Japanese society, Ishikawa Brewery began brewing beer in 1887. Although the brewery was forced to discontinue production due to the lack of bottle cap technology at the time and the tendency of the bottles to easily break, the production of beer has now reached the same level as that of sake.
The key factor in producing exceptional sake or beer lies in the quality of the water used, and Ishikawa Brewery is blessed with underground mineral water, which is exclusively used in all its products.
The “Tama no Megumi” (meaning “Blessings of Tama”) beer was originally created here in the Tama area, which is known for its history of Tamagawa Josui , a historic freshwater canal built during the Edo period (1603-1868) , and was launched in 1998, using the company's own natural underground water. In 2015, "TOKYO BLUES," an authentic Tokyo craft beer, was launched, using only natural water from this region and all the technology accumulated over the years.

A worker in a shirt with the TOKYO BLUES motto: “An authentic craft beer: Born in Tokyo, brewed in Tokyo, and named Tokyo.”

Beer tanks lined up in the Mukougura beer factory (photographed with special permission; entry to the beer brewery is not included in tours)

Today, the company takes pride in its heritage and its ties with the region’s community, working with local farmers to secure quality ingredients, and welcoming visitors to Fussa for tours of its sake brewery. The property also boasts six buildings registered as National Heritage Sites. The historic premises have been used as a setting for television dramas and as a backdrop for commercial photo shoots.
The buildings are set amid trees, including a pair of enormous Japanese zelkova, cherry blossom trees, an olive tree, crape myrtle, and an ancient, sacred zelkova. There is also a water well where you can taste the natural water used on the property and in all of the beverages.
A pair of keyaki (zelkova tree) over 400 years old. Daikokuten, god of rice, and Benzaiten, goddess of water, are enshrined here.
Ishikawa Brewery has two eateries, including its famous Italian restaurant, Fussa no Birugoya, which serves handmade pizza, pasta and other dishes prepared using the best locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. It offers both with indoor and garden seating, where you can enjoy the changing seasons. Naturally, the restaurant also serves Ishikawa Brewery’s sake and beer, including special seasonal lines. The ambiance of the restaurant and beer garden setting is reminiscent of overseas craft breweries which the company president visited, and has proven immensely popular with both tourists and local residents, further strengthening the company’s ties with the community.
Italian restaurant Fussa no Birugoya serves beer and sake fresh from the brewery, oven-baked pizza, and other dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.
Another kura building houses Sake Cellar, the souvenir shop, which offers the full range of Ishikawa Brewery sake and beer, as well as original goods, such as aprons, t-shirts, sake cups, and sake-flavored sweets. There is also a Historical museum, in the Zougura building, exhibiting materials related to sake and beer brewing in the Edo, Meiji, and Showa periods, the history of the Ishikawa Family, and the relationship between the local people and the Tama River. Conveniently located next-door is an independently operated capsule-style guesthouse, Shubou-Tamajiman, which has strong relations with the brewery.

The Sake Cellar stocks a huge range of Ishikawa Brewery sake and beer, including exclusive and seasonal products.

The Sake Cellar stocks a huge range of Ishikawa Brewery sake and beer, including exclusive and seasonal products.

The Sake Cellar stocks a huge range of Ishikawa Brewery sake and beer, including exclusive and seasonal products.

The Sake Cellar stocks a huge range of Ishikawa Brewery sake and beer, including exclusive and seasonal products.

General information

Ishikawa Brewery
  • Hours:
    Tours in English 10:00 – 15:00, Wed-Mon (Tours in French can be arranged upon request. )
    Restaurant 11:30 – 21:30 (Advance reservations recommended, last order 20:30, closed Mondays and Tuesdays), Cellar shop 10:00 – 18:00 (Open everyday except for Tuesday, Open everyday on December).
  • Note: Tours require reservations at least five days in advance.
  • Address: 1 Kumagawa, Fussa City, Tokyo Map >
  • Access: 15 minutes by walk or 8 minutes by taxi from Haijima Station (JR Ōme Line / JR Hachikō Line / Seibu Haijima Line)
  • Admission: Free
  • Tour Prices (tax included): 3,000 yen (with sake tastings), 2,000 yen (without tasting, including visitors of ages 12 to 20), free of charge (children under 12) *Please note: Prior confirmation is required for all tour participants
See details at "GO TOKYO"


From Breweries to Bars—A Guide to Sake in Tokyo

The GO TOKYO website provides travel information in a range of categories. Check it out to find other activities and outings similar to those we explore in these articles.

A Tokyo Brewery Producing Traditional Sake and Hip Craft Beer(Fussa City)
A Farming Encounter in Suburban Tokyo(Kunitachi City)
Koshinkan—Travel Back in Time at this Beautiful Historic Home(Mizuho Town)