In my work in tourism, I’ve often had the pleasure of taking guests to breweries or to bars in other cities where we sample the delights of high-quality “nihon shu,” or sake, which is what prompted my article about Japanese sake a month or so back. I know you’re probably dying to get out there, but for some, the hike to Saijo or other locations further afield might be a stretch so as they say if the mountain won’t come to the mountain…there is now a venue in Hiroshima offering a tasting experience downtown called Sake Bank.
Walking in, apart from the pleasant atmosphere, you notice the showcase of glass front refrigeration units lining the wall presenting an abundant selection of over 100 types of Japanese sake selected from all over Japan. The selection is mainly local Japanese sake from Hiroshima the Chugoku region for you to choose from, and it is all self-service style, help yourself from the showcase refrigerators. Uh oh! It is an all-you-can-drink system.
The charge is for the time spent there, and it’s a pretty good deal particularly considering the range and quality of Japanese sake available: 30 minutes ¥1,200、60 minutes ¥1,800、90 minutes ¥2,400、180 minutes ¥3,600.
There are snacks and the typical accompaniments to nihon shu (dried squid, rice crackers), but you’re allowed to take snacks in with you. Here’s the thing, the charge is to avail yourself of the premises during which time you are invited to drink as much as you would like. You are welcome even to BYO food or drink, but I remind you that there is plenty to drink there to ensure your opportunity to enjoy your tasting experience fully. Every day is a sake festival at your doorstep.
Tetsuya Amada, the Hiroshima born sommelier, worked in sales. If you know the culture, that means he has spent a lot his evenings during that time at hundreds of restaurants and bars entertaining clients and guests. His love of travel reinforced in him the depth of Japanese culture, and he concluded that he could combine all his experiences (and leave the daily grind ) to open a venue that specializes in nihon shu that creates a unique cultural experience for Japanese and foreign visitors alike.
So, give yourself a Japanese sake tasting experience.
Castle Tatemachi Building
Access: This gem is a 2-minute walk from the Hiroden Main Line Tatemachi Station, tucked away on the 2nd floor of Castle Tatemachi Building just off the Hondori Shopping arcade, a stone’s throw from Fukuya Department Store.
Address: 203 Castle Tatemachi Building (キャッスル立町) 5-2 Tatemachi, Naka-ku (map link)
Hours: Monday to Friday (closed Tuesdays): 17: 00-midnight (last entry 23: 30) Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 14: 00-00: 00 (last entry 23: 30)
Photos By Hugh Cann