The following day’s brewery visit took me in a completely different direction, to Ozawa Shuzo in scenic Sawai, nestled among verdant mountains about two hours west of the city, but still in Tokyo prefecture. This time, a pleasant five minute walk through the picturesque village led me to my destination, the kura that brews one of my favorite sake, Sawanoi Kiokejikomi Iroha Kimoto Junmai. My guides Kubo-san and his assistant were gracious and informative, making sure that I saw the cedar tank (kioke) used in making the aforementioned brew, the underground springs that are their two water sources, and a wall of koshu (aged sake) vintages dating back 20 years.
Another highlight of the visit was a perfect lunch at their fabled tofu restaurant perched serenely just above the rapids of the Tama River. As my server presented each in a series of delectable tofu dishes, I sipped from the flight of four Sawanoi sake that I had pre-selected while gazing at the natural beauty of the tableau spread out before my windowside table. Even as rain began to fall, it only enhanced what couldn’t have been a more peaceful and relaxing experience!