Hidden Japan: A Saké & Whisky Tour

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  • Overview Details

    Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement, a quest for perfection. Kaizen means never resting on laurels, because there is always room for improvement to polish closer to perfection. It is this philosophy that has powered Japan forward over the past six decades, transforming it into a contemporary, futuristic society that is simultaneously modern, yet adherently traditional.

    That drive, and the mixture of old and new, is the spotlight of this exclusive tour organised by Kampachi, Malaysia’s most established Japanese restaurant. For over 40 years, Kampachi has been at the forefront of Japanese cuisine in the country and its own application of kaizen has given it exposure to ever-increasing standards of supplier-sourcing. Today, it imports its own sake from a series of small (usually still family-owned) breweries that still employ age-old hand-production techniques. Their very limited quantities make their sake highly coveted in Japan, with extremely limited quantities ever getting exported.

    This tour takes guests to a distinguished saké brewery and Japan’s first whisky distillery, and along the way, trace a fascinating story that links these two industries. Saké, or rice wine, dates back to the Nara period of 710-794 AD, while whisky is a relatively recent phenomenon, imported from Scotland in 1923. Both showcase the philosophy of kaizen – refining centuries-old techniques into sophisticated modern saké and fine-tuning Scottish techniques to create a uniquely Japanese whisky.

    The tour begins in Osaka, where a local flight will whisk guests off to Izumo. Over two days, guests will delve deep into a hidden side of Japan that few travellers ever set foot, visiting Ota Shuzo, a renowned saké breweries founded in 1874. Here guests will learn the secrets of saké making and sample an elixir that is interwoven into the very fabric of Japanese life and society. Along the way, picturesque sights like the Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine, the Tottori Sand Dunes and the Kurashiki Bikan historical quarter will be taken in.

    The party will then wind its way back to Osaka by road via Himeji, settling guests in at the Marriott Miyako Osaka, the base to explore the Suntory’s Yamazaki whisky distillery. Founded in 1923 by Shinjiro Torii, the site is the first malt distillery in Japan, heralding the arrival of the powerhouse Japanese whisky industry. Here guests will learn about the history of Yamazaki, now owned by Suntory, and what exactly makes Japanese whisky so special.

    Cuisine naturally is also a feature of the tour and a series of specially-selected restaurants have been chosen. The tour will bring guests to high-quality restaurants that are not normally geared toward a tourist crowd, for a dining experience that does not feature in the usual guidebooks.

    A gala dinner will cap off this journey through hidden Japan, and guests will return home enlightened, educated and excited, as well as suitably inebriated.


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"One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art."

Oscar Wilde