- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2004

Americans can fly directly to Kansai International Airport in Osaka from Los Angeles,

San Francisco, Detroit or Honolulu. An express train takes 75 minutes to get from the airport to Kyoto. From other cities in the United States, flights to Kansai are accessible via Tokyo’s Narita International Airport. A bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto takes 21/2 hours. Fushimi is about a half-hour south of central Kyoto.


There are about 1,500 sake breweries throughout Japan. Fushimi has been famous for its sake since the 17th century, during the shogunate era. Gekkeikan is Japan’s biggest brewery and a major exporter, but the area is dotted by small and midsize breweries, most within walking distance of one another.


Kyoto is most picturesque from late March to mid-April, when the cherry blossoms bloom, and in mid- to late November, during the foliage season. Fall also is when Japanese prefer to see the ancient capital, so be prepared for crowds at temples and shrines. Lodging can be scarce, and prices skyrocket during those periods. Tourist information centers can offer help booking rooms. Kyoto prefecture tourist information: www.pref.kyoto.jp/trade/tourism/tourism.html.


Sake is Japan’s national drink, and most restaurants, bars and liquor stores stock both premium and normal table brews. Expect to pay $15 to $60 for a 54-ounce bottle or $10 to $30 for a 22-ounce bottle. A 54-ounce bottle of premium sake can set you back $100.


Visit Japan’s National Research Institute of Brewing at www.nrib.go.jp/English/English.htm or John Gauntner’s Sakeworld newsletter at www.sake-world.com. The Tamanohikari sake brewery is located at 545 Higashisakai; for more information, visit www.sake.com. The Gekkeikan Okura Museum’s address is 247 Minamihama-cho; for more information, visit www.gekkeikan-sake.com.


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