Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Taste Five Types Of Japanese Sake For 500 Yen! Ponshukan In Niigata
Written by MICKEY MITSUMOTO
Niigata prefecture is Japan's third largest distributor of sake and is known as the ”sake prefecture”. Taste five different kinds of sake for only 500 Yen at Ponshukan, near Niigata Station.
Niigata - The Home of Japanese Sake
Niigata is the prefecture with the highest number of sake breweries and sake storage cellars in Japan and is also the third largest distributor of sake as well. Japanese sake manufacturing is one of the prefecture's major industries (source: Ministry of Economy's Industrial Statistical Chart of 2010). Trying delicious Japanese sake is a must when visiting Niigata.
Many would like to drink Japanese sake in Niigata, but it is hard to drink a whole isshobin (*1) bottle. You may also want to try different brands, but that would become very costly. For those who wish to try different varieties of Japanese sake for a reasonable price, there is a great place to go.
Ponshukan, located inside Niigata Station, has Japanese sake from 92 producers within the prefecture and you can try five varieties for only 500 yen.
*1 isshobin: A 1.8-liter bottle used to store sake.
Taste 5 Types of Japanese Sake for 500 Yen!
Ponshukan is a minute walk away from Niigata Station and is usually filled with many tourists and locals. First, let us introduce how to taste sake for only 500 yen.
All you have to do is pay 500 yen at the counter and receive five coins and an ochoko (*2) cup.
*2 ochoko: A small cup commonly used for drinking sake.
In the shop, you will find special machines set to pour the sake.
On the machines you will find specific sake labels. Find one that catches your interest and set your cup under it. Insert a coin and press the yellow button, then you can enjoy your sake.
This time, we tried the Kamonishiki. It is a sake made in Kamo city, Niigata, which also happens to be the hometown of the Japanese writer of this article.
It had a very refreshing taste and was delicious.
In Japan, types of sake with a sweeter taste are called amakuchi (sweet taste) and ones that are less sweet are referred to as karakuchi (spicy taste). However, the sake itself is not spicy; karakuchi in this case means 'dry'.
Next, we tried the most popular Echigo Tsuru-kame. It had a faint sweetness and went down smooth like water.
There was even a sake called COWBOY. This one was also very tasty and left us feeling rather tipsy, but relaxed.
In the shop, you can find a popular sake ranking chart. The labels on the machines have the names of the sake written clearly, so you can check the brands on the board to find the popular ones. Even if you cannot read Japanese, you can match the written characters with the labels to find the most popular ones easily.
If you are unsure of what to drink, why not check the ranking or ask for recommendations?
Along with the drinks, you can find some side dishes such as miso (*3) from all over Japan along with some salt to cleanse your palette while drinking.
*3 miso: A traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans.
Those who managed to drink all 92 types of sake receive a certificate and their name will be placed on the shop wall.
Another Ponshukan branch is located at Echigo Yuzawa Station, in a popular hot spring area. It is a great place to stop by after a skiing or snowboarding trip.
Once you are done drinking, please return your ochoko cup.
How to Get to Ponshukan from Niigata Station
After getting out of the west exit of Niigata Station, go to the end and turn right.
Continue going straight until you spot the building of Yodobashi Camera, then turn right.
On your left-hand side, you will find the entrance to Ponshukan right beside Hotel Mets.
After going past the shop area within Ponshukan, you will find the sake tasting area. You are also welcome to explore the shop and purchase any Japanese sake you liked during the tasting too.
Address: Niigata city, Chuo, Hanazono 1-96-47
Closed: Open all year
WiFi: Not Available
Accepted Credit Cards: -
Menu/Pamphlets in Other Languages: N/A
Nearest station: Niigata Station
Access: 1-minute walk from Niigata Station West exit.
Price: Up to 999 Yen
Telephone number: +81-025-240-7090
Website: Ponshukan (Japanese)