Translated by Laura Jacob
Kurand Sake Market: Unlimited Tasting of 100 Japanese Sakes in Asakusa
Written by Keisuke Yamada
Learn about Kurand Sake Market in Tokyo's Asakusa district, where you can enjoy unlimited tasting of 100 different varieties of Japanese sake.
Throughout the ages, sake has typically been served and enjoyed at celebrations in Japan. Whether it be the birth of a child, a wedding ceremony, coming-of-age celebrations, graduations, or longevity, Japanese sake has always been an essential part of each of these life events.
If you have lived in Japan, perhaps you may have participated in some sort of celebration where Japanese sake was served.
While there are many occasions where sake is traditionally served, there are even more types of sake available. Sakes are produced in various regions through a number of different brewing processes, determined by the brewers' ideals, resulting in a spectrum of flavors across Japan.
But if you don't often have the chance to drink sake, it's hard to learn about the different varieties of sake and how they taste, as well as what types of sake you enjoy the most. In order to become familiar with Japanese sake, the best way is to taste as many different kinds as possible.
For those interested in learning more about sake, this article will introduce Kurand Sake Market Asakusa, where you can enjoy unlimited tastings of 100 different types of sake.
From Arrival to Ordering
When you enter the store, you will pay a flat rate of 3000 yen (before tax).
With this fee, not only do you gain access to all of the sake in stock; there is also no time limit for tastings, so you could even stay from opening to closing.
After you pay the entrance fee, you will receive a stamp on your hand as proof of payment. Once you receive this stamp, you can even go outside and come back to continue tasting as long as you return within business hours on the same day.
After paying, you can choose your tasting glass from the wide selection of sake cups. Some types of sake are clear, while others are slightly tinted. The color and shape of your glass can help bring out different consistencies of the sake - we recommend a clear glass so you can best observe the faint differences in color.
Wait Staff Will Show You to Your Table!
Now that you've chosen a glass, one of the wait staff will show you to your table. The store is standing only; there is no seating available.
There are both rectangular (pictured above) and round tables available. Choose a table best suited to your party!
At each table, you will find a booklet containing information related to the sake available for tasting: flavor profiles of the sake, the kuramoto, or breweries that produced the sake, as well as the ideals and processes that went into making each type of sake.
This booklet is a great guide to figure out which sake to choose.
Find Your Favorite Sake!
Now that you've come this far, all that is left is to drink as much sake as you wish, and find out what kinds of sake you like best.
Inside the store, you will find a large refrigerator filled with various types of sake. One option is to scan the labels and region of production to pick out your sake.
However, faced with this many options, it might be hard to figure out where to start. For starters, how about choosing a label that looks appealing to you?
If you find yourself having trouble choosing, refer to the various colored stickers on each bottle. These stickers indicate the flavor of the sake.
Once you've chosen a sake to taste, follow the rules below to pour yourself a sample at the designated table (these tables are separate from the tables for eating and drinking).
1) Only pour sake at the designated tables
2) Do not eat or drink at the sake pouring tables
3) Limit your time at the sake pouring table to allow other guests to use it
By following these 3 simple rules, you can enjoy a wide assortment of sake together with other guests!
Bring Your Own Snacks!
Now that you've learned all about the sake tasting, have you noticed anything different?
That's right, because Kurand Sake Market focuses solely on unlimited sake tasting, there is no food service.
What about if you get hungry? No problem - guests are welcome to bring their own food. You can purchase food from outside shops and bring it into the store. Also, Kurand Sake Market does sell simple snacks for around 200 yen a piece.
Luckily, Asakusa is home to many shops where you can purchase delicious food to-go. Buy all the snacks you want, and then bring them to Kurand Sake Market.
There are both bento box stores and convenience stores located nearby. There are no restrictions on where you can buy food from or what kind of food you can bring.
Looking for something sweet? We recommend the melon bread from Kagetsudo, conveniently located near Kurand Sake Market.
Related Article: Want to Try Crispy Jumbo Melon Bread? Head to Asakusa's Kagetsudo!
Pictured above is the Asakusa Menchi, a breaded, deep fried ground meat cutlet. 3,500 of these are sold in a single day.
These are just a couple of examples of the many other delicious food to try in Asakusa. When you visit, take a stroll to see what other tasty snacks you can find.
A Sip of Sake Trivia
While we digress from the topic on hand, you will find a ball of plant matter, like that pictured above, hanging outside sake breweries in Japan.
This sphere is called a sugitama or sakabayashi. Many Japanese people might not even know what these are called.
The cedar spear-tips are gathered up and rolled into a ball. These spheres are hung in front of breweries to indicate that a new batch of sake is complete. The ball is initially green, but eventually dries out and turns brown. The color changes show the viewer how much the new sake has matured.
To bring out the sake brewery atmosphere, there is a sugitama on display at Kurand Sake Market Asakusa. Be sure to check it out when you visit.
Kurand Sake Market allows you to taste as much sake as you want at your own pace, making it a great destination for sake enthusiasts and beginners alike. Even those who feel like sake isn't their cup of tea are sure to find something that fits their tastes, so drop by Kurand Sake Market the next time you are in Asakusa.
Kurand Sake Market Asakusa
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Asakusa 1-13-10 Lekusu Asakusa B1
Hours: 12:00–16:00 (last order 15:30), 17:00–23:00（last order 22:00）
Open all year round
Price: 3000 yen
Phone Number: +81(0)3-6802-8442
Official Website: Kurand Sake Market (Japanese)
Facebook Page: Kurand Sake Market (Japanese)