If you love sake and have the opportunity to visit Japan, a brewery tour is a great way to learn about the production process and to meet the people that pour their hearts into the craft of sake brewing. However, some breweries can be hard to get to and if you don’t speak Japanese, it may be difficult to arrange a tour. Thankfully, a brewery isn’t the only place to go to if you want to learn about sake – during the Yardbird crew’s most recent trip to Japan, they went to an amazing sake shop in the heart of Osaka and received an inspiring sake education.

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From the outside, Shimada Shoten looks like your everyday sake or liquor store. But if you head down the steep, narrow set of stairs, you’ll find a cozy tasting room with gorgeous tables made from cedar barrels. The passionate owner, Mr. Shimada, has visited over 250 breweries throughout Japan in an effort to carefully select the best sake for his cellar. Mr. Shimada is 75 years old and runs the shop with his son – he speaks good English, which he humbly denies. The shop is almost 60 years old and used to be a traditional sake store that also served food. Mr. Shimada’s father took over the space 30 years ago and created Shimada Shoten, meaning that three generations of men in this family have run the shop. The youngest of these three generations believes that sake is only becoming more popular in Japan and abroad, with maybe the exception of aged sake.

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In the tasting room, you can order sake as well as chunky miso, pickled salty plum, and sake lees cheese – little bites enjoyed with sake that are part of the culture because they pair so well together. The cellar also has an epic ceramic sake cup, or ochoko, collection. Mr. Shimada spoke with the Yardbird crew about sake and had the team try the same sake in different cups. He explained how the shape of the vessel is not just about aesthetics, but that it actually affects the way a sake tastes because it hits different parts of your palate.

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A charming aspect of Shimada Shoten is that it operates on a sort of trust system – sake bottles are left on the tables for patrons to pour for themselves and customers are expected to honestly declare how many glasses they consumed when they go upstairs to pay. Their menu requests to only pour until the glass is 70% full.

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Shimada Shoten is easy to get to, relatively English-friendly, and a destination that sake enthusiasts must visit. So the next time you’re in Osaka, make sure to stop by the shop, taste some sake and snacks, and buy a few bottles (the YB crew highly recommends sake lees cheese). And don’t forget to share a conversation with the passionate people who run this space.

Shimada Shoten
3-5-1, Itachibori, Nishi-ku, Osaka city, Osaka, 550-0012

4 thoughts on “Shimada Shoten: A Sake Paradise in Osaka

  1. Mae Kris

    Hi!

    How much would you recommend to budget for this?

    1. sundaysgrocery

      Hey Mae,
      It’s a relatively nominal charge. Around 2000 yen per person.

  2. Carol Tan

    Hi,
    What is your operating hour?

    1. sundaysgrocery

      Hi Carol,

      Shimada Shoten isn’t one of our establishments, but you can find more information about it here:
      http://www.sake-shimada.co.jp/

      -Sunday’s Grocery

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