Kitanonishiki, Kobayashi Sake Brewery in Kuriyama

This place is written as [北の錦・小林酒造(栗山町)] in Japanese.

Hokkaido is home to many famous sake breweries, even in its small towns. One such brewery is Kobayashi Sake Brewery. Tours of the brewery are available only for groups of 10 or more with a reservation. However, as a seasonal event, the brewery hosts its annual “Sake Brewery Festival” on the second Saturday and Sunday of April, opening its doors to the general public. During the festival, food stalls are set up on the premises, interactive brewery tours are offered, and visitors can sample the limited-edition “Nama Nigori Sake.” Additionally, local performing arts are showcased, attracting over 20,000 visitors each year.

About Kobayashi Sake Brewery

The name “Kita-no-Nishiki (北の錦)” originates from Yonesaburo Kobayashi, the founder of Kobayashi Sake Brewery. His father, Denshiro Kobayashi, who was from Niigata, established the brewery in Sapporo in 1878. Yonesaburo often said, “I return home with honors,” reflecting his strong determination to produce high-quality sake and achieve prosperity. In Japanese, this phrase translates to “Come back home wearing Nishiki (錦).” Nishiki is a fabric made from costly silk, symbolizing wearing expensive clothes and signifying great success.

That’s why Yonesaburo named Kita-no-nishiki as brand. “Kita” means north which notes Hokkaido. So that Brand name “Kitanonishiki(北の錦)” shows the brewery’s confidence and pride of Kuriyama and Hokkaido.

They are proud of making Sake with all of Hokkaido’s rice, pure water and local workers. That’s all about Kitanonishiki.

History

Denshiro Kobayashi, originally from Niigata, established a sake brewery in Sapporo in 1878. In 1900, Kobayashi Brewery moved to Kuriyama, an area rich in natural resources.

In 1918, their products received the top prize at the Hokkaido Sake Exhibition. The brewery expanded, selling its products in Manchuria (China) and Karafuto (Sakhalin).

During WWII, the brewery was designated as an arsenal, and afterward, it was controlled by the GHQ (General Headquarters) for several years.

In 1978, the brewery celebrated its 100th anniversary. They successfully produced sake using 100% Hokkaido rice and distributed it throughout Japan.

Starting in 1997, they began exporting their products to New York and have received numerous awards since then.

Today, Kobayashi Sake Brewery is renowned not only in Japan but also worldwide. The sake storehouses have been designated as national tangible cultural properties.

Access

JR Train from Sapporo

  • Take a Hakodate line to Iwamizawa st. > Transfer a Muroran line to Kuriyama and 15 min walk.

Bus from Sapporo

  • Take a Chuo bus [Express Kuriyama] or [Express Yubari] and 15 min walk.

By Car from Sapporo

  • 40-50 min

Open

  • 10:00-16:00

Admission Fee

  • none
  • some related facilities are charged

Facilities

Sake storehouse(酒蔵)

Between the 1940s and 1960s, coal mining was the main industry in towns such as Yubari, Iwamizawa, Mikasa, and Ashibetsu. Many coal miners gathered in these areas, and Kitanonishiki became their beloved drink during breaks, leading to its rapid growth.

However, due to the energy revolution of the 1970s, which shifted from coal to oil, these coal mining towns began to decline. It is said that over 300,000 coal miners and their families disappeared. The sake storehouses now stand as a testament to the prosperity and flourishing of those bygone days.

These sake storehouses are unique buildings, constructed from brick and soft stone in a Western style. They are the only sake storehouses of this style in Japan. Eighteen storehouses remain and have been designated as national tangible cultural properties.

Factory tours are available for groups of 10 or more.

Memorial Museum(記念館)

A sake shop with tasting is inside of the museum. There are more than 5,000 items related to Sake products and goods for daily-life at the time.

Kobayashi House(小林家)

The house is one of the oldest private house in Hokkaido. The house tour is available for special charged.

Nanabangura(七番蔵)

Kinsuian(錦水庵)

Restaurant Kura(レストラン 蔵)

Annual Event

Annual Brewery Festival called “Sakagura Matsuri(酒蔵まつり)” held on the second Saturday and Sunday in April.

More than 20,000 people are coming on these two days. Opening Sake storehouse for visitors and many booths for foods and drinks are settled.

Special Sake, “Nama Nigori Zake(生にごり酒)” is served for visitors. More, traditional entertainments on stage.

You will deeply understand what a Kobayashi Brewery is. Also learned local histories of Kuriyama. It should be the most fantastic day for visitors.

Photos