Jojima Sake Festival 2013

If you like Japanese sake (nihonshu), then you know that one of the most exciting times of the year has nearly arrived–kurabiraki season! Kurabiraki is when sake breweries open their doors to visitors and offer free or low-priced tastings of most or all of their sake. You can go to individual breweries’ events if you are already familiar with various makers, but if you are still new to Japan’s most delicious liquor then you will probably be better off attending the Jojima Sake Festival.

The Jojima Shuzo-biraki (sake festival) gives you the opportunity to visit various breweries and sample their sake for free (or a minimal price). The central event area offers tasting of various makers’ brews all in one place for a small price, as well as traditional festival foods. This is one of the biggest sake events in the Fukuoka area (if not the biggest), so you can expect some major crowds, but it provides a superb chance to meet local people and enjoy good drinks from Fukuoka

Event details are as follows:
When: February 11, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
Where: Kurume (Jojima) area
Access: Nishitetsu Mizuma Station (Nishitetsu Tenjin-Omuta Line) is the closest station, although you also get off at JR Araki Station (JR Kagoshima Main Line). Free shuttle buses and taxis will take you between the different breweries and the central event area, although some areas are within walking distance of each other. The shuttle buses are notoriously crowded (think 30-minute waits and standing in the aisles), and although they plan to increase the number of buses this year to counteract this problem, taxis are still the best option if you are moving around as a group.
Recommendations: The central event area is a bit overrated (and overcrowded), so I recommend visiting individual breweries instead. My personal favorites are Morinokura, located right next to Mizuma Station, as well as Asahigiku and Hananotsuyu, all of which boast some of the best sake Fukuoka Prefecture has to offer.

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3 Responses to Jojima Sake Festival 2013

  1. Jeff says:

    I was planning a trip to fukuoka again this year (my third time already!), I thought I had luckily bought plane tickets that included Feb 11th, the Sake Festival date. As someone who’s completely obsessed with sake, this was supposed to be a dream come true. None of my previous schedules allowed for trips that included these fantastical sake festivals of any kind in kyushu, hiroshima, niigata, etc.

    I’d actually asked a family member to help with the plane reservations, and it turns out he fumbled the dates and we’re leaving japan Feb. 10th, less than half a day before the start of the festival. Saying I was upset is an understatement.

    Sorry for the rambling. I’m trying to console myself by utterly “sour-graping” the entire thing as too hectic and fast-paced and instead visiting each brewery individually before this year’s festival. So here’s my actual question: Do these individual breweries have separate events planned outside of the “center area” with sampling tents?

    • The central area has one giant sampling tent of sorts, where you have to pay and wait in line, and you can only have a few drinks. The individual breweries, however, hold separate events (almost all are free of charge) where they offer samples of most or all of their products. Personally, I think the individual brewery kurabiraki events are the best part of Jojima. If you aren’t around for Jojima on the 11th, you might be able to find some separate kurabiraki on the days you are in Japan.

      • Jeff says:

        Thanks for the reply. I actually have a brochure for last year’s festival, though I didn’t get to go to that one either, and the lineup didn’t look very special.
        However, it’s a DAMN shame that the individual breweries hold something special… I’m going to email the ones that actually have a website and see if they’ll let me visit. I’ll let you know on here how that goes, especially since it’ll be only a few days before the festival which they’re probably all busy for.

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