Itami City is known as the birthplace of sake.
Long ago, people only knew how to produce a white, cloudy kind of sake called nigorisake. In Itami, the method for making refined sake was discovered, and the breweries in the area started to produce clear sakes very different from the old cloudy kind.
The delicious flavor of these sakes earned them great popularity, and Itami clear sake became famous all over Japan. When the capital moved to Edo (modern day Tokyo), the sake from Itami was transported by ship. These sakes eventually became the official gozenshu of the Shogun – that is to say, they were served at his very dinner table.
The area around Itami became a prosperous brewing town. Of the 200 or so breweries that existed in the Edo period, two still remain: Shirayuki (Konishi Brewing Company), and Oimatsu. Itami’s sake brewing tradition has been passed on to other regions of Japan, with famous producers such as Kembishi (Nada-ku, Kobe) and Otokoyama (Hokkaido) having their origins in Itami.
Nevertheless, Itami’s sake brewing culture continues to contribute to the town’s prosperity. Visitors can enjoy tasting and shopping for sakes and other related products, as well as exploring historical sake cellar architecture and learning about the history of brewing. A great many events related to sake also take place throughout the year, including Shirayuki Brewery Festival (February), Itami Yataimura Food Festival (March and September), Sakadaru Yoichi Night Market (September), and Itami Downtown Bar (May and October).