The Japanese sake – a drink so inseparable to Japanese culture – has been growing in popularity globally, and the Japan Tourism Agency wants to take advantage of the popularity and promote sake breweries to tourists who visit the country. The agency said on Thursday that the push to promote “sake brewery tourism” will reinvigorate the industry and bolster regional economies.
JTA said that it will urge sake makers to work in cooperation with tourism bodies and transportation companies to network and share information on possible marketing strategies. Some of the top breweries in the country are in Kashima, Saga Prefecture, Kobe’s Nada Ward and Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward. JTA official Koji Minakuchi said that they consider sake cellars to be part of the new kind of tourism that JTA is espousing and considers them to be tourism resources. This is all part of JTA’s plans to attract 10 million travelers this year, bringing the number of tourists back to pre-disaster levels.
The city of Kashima has already incorporated the sake breweries and facilities in combined tours about the region’s history. The city is planning several events involving sake makers and is designing a map to show their locations. Although the beverage’s popularity has been on the decline within Japan, it has not been the case internationally, where sake is gaining attention all around the globe, riding on a growing appetite for Japanese cuisine. Exports of sake have more than doubled in the past decade, hitting $92.3 million in fiscal 2012 compared to $37 million in fiscal 2002. According to the latest numbers, the United States, South Korea and Taiwan are the top three sake importers in the world.