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.