Kitakata is a small town located in the Tohoku region of northern Japan and is home to one of Japan's Three Greatest Ramen noodles, Kitakata ramen. With roughly 120 ramen shops in town, Kitakata has the highest ramen shop-per-person ratio in all of Japan and is known as a ramen town. You can eat ramen any time of the day. Some shops even open from 7am for "Asa-Ra," a unique custom of the region: "Morning ramen" or "Ramen for breakfast."
Besides the ramen noodles, Kitakata is also well known for their kura, or traditional storehouse style buildings and is nicknamed as "Kura no Machi" or a town of the kura. Kitakata has long been known as the center of sake (rice wine) brewing and miso (soybean paste) production. Kura, able to maintain a stable temperature and humidity throughout the year, were built to store and preserve the products. At the present day in Kitakata, there are over 4,000 KURA built all over the town.
11:20am - Meet your guide at Kitakata Station and then visit the first sake brewery (saka gura) with the tradition and elegance of the Edo-period. Founded over 200 years ago in Edo period, this is a saka gura with history. The key to their highly-valued sake is the water from the subterranean river. Then enjoy Kitakata ramen noodles or a lunch of a locally-sourced meal at a traditional restaurant.
After lunch, visit a kura yashiki of successful merchants who have built their fortune by silk-reeling, soybean paste production and soy sauce brewing. Then, you will visit the modern-style saka gura with a beautiful Japanese garden. This is a large, relatively modern saka gura. Together with their award-winning sake the "Champion Sake of 2015" by world's finest wine competition of International Wine Challenge.
Take a break at a wagashi (Japanese sweets) shop by enjoying the wagashi sweets such as yokan (jellied dessert made of azuki bean paste), manju (steamed bun) and many others at a shop built in the kura style with irori, or a sunken floor hearth.
After your break, you will visit another sake brewery. This saka gura has history over 300 years and known for very distinctive way of brewing - brewing with Mozart's music.
Then, visit a soysauce warehouse and factory (for those who selected the private option). This soysauce brewery, is made of persimmon trees and bricks.
Then you will visit a lacquerware (shikki) store that showcases works that are handmade by a craftsman. Here, you can admire the beauty of Aizu shikki, lacquerware painted with region's original techniques. You can also create your own if you would like. Paint a furin (windchime), a hand mirror, chopsticks or uchiwa (fan) with one of the Aizu shikki technique called maki-e.
*Please note: the tour schedule may change if you want to try maki-e.
Your tour concludes at 5.30pm as your guide will take you back to Kitakata station or your accommodation.
JR Line, Kitakata station
If you cancel at least 7 day(s) in advance of the scheduled departure, there is no cancellation fee.
If you cancel between 3 and 6 day(s) in advance of the scheduled departure, there is a 50 percent cancellation fee.
If you cancel within 2 day(s) of the scheduled departure, there is a 100 percent cancellation fee.
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On this tour, you will explore the history and culture of Kitakata though visits to saka gura, or kura used for brewing sake. Among many saka gura in the area, your English-speaking guide will introduce you to more distinctive and unique kura so that you can sip, taste and easily find your favorite sake!