Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto

Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto (津之喜酒舗)

Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto

Tsunoki is more than 200 years old and is the place in Kyoto to purchase fine sake, shochu and Japanese whiskey. The friendly 8th generation owner of Tsunoki, Teruo Fujii, speaks some English and is always happy to make recommendations to visitors.

Where are you going to get fine sake in Kyoto?
We have done a number of sake related posts now and no trip to Kyoto would be complete without sampling some fine sake, so we thought we would tell you where in Kyoto to get a hold of some. For retail, our recommendation is Tsunoki.

Secret: Fine Sake Often Not Offered at Fine Ryokan
Many visitors to Japan enjoy staying at traditional Japanese inns called, ‘ryokan’ of which Kyoto has many, many to offer. A stay at a ryokan usually includes dinner and breakfast. Dinner is often excellent and while ryokan often stock several varieties of sake to serve guests with dinner it is often poor quality, the same stuff you can buy from a vending machine or a convenience store. The best sake I (Peko) have ever had at even a very expensive ryokan was mediocre. So, consider bringing your own.

Several liquor stores in Kyoto offer good selections of fine sake, however Tsunoki offers far and way the best we have seen with an excellent selection of sake produced in Kyoto. Service is friendly and helpful, prices are average and being centrally located in Nishiki Market, a destination that any visitor to Kyoto will surely want to experience makes Tsunoki the place.

About Tsunoki
Tsunoki is a rare find indeed, it’s like shinise (old and famous store) meets rarified boutique. The 8th generation owner, Mr Fujii greatly increased the variety of fine sake. Now Tsunoki stocks rare and premium sake from not just Kyoto but other breweries from the Kansai region. An assortment of shochu and fine Japanese whiskey which is especially popular with foreign visitors these days is also available.

When you visit Tsunoki look for liquor license issued some 220 years ago hanging above the door at the back of the store.

About the Proprietor
Teruo Fujii is a very interesting dude. Not only is the English speaking 8th generation owner of the historic sake dealer in the heart of Kyoto and Nishiki Market, he is a local rock star, aspiring novelist, accomplished calligrapher and web-savvy blogger.

Mr Fujii offers sake recommendations for customers based on the weather and season, accompanying meal, the customer’s character, specified tastes and so on. Often several kinds of sake are available for tasting.

Mr Fujii choses the sake he stocks in a unique way. After consistently hearing good things about a brewery in the media and word-of-mouth, he contacts the brewery and arranges a visit to meet the brew master first hand and samples the brewery’s sake. If it passes muster, he will stock it in his store.

Tsunoki Storefront in Nishiki Market
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto
If you would like to sip some yummy, chilled Fushimi Daiginjo sake as you take in Nishiki Market, you can get a generously filled paper cup full for around 630 yen from the tank at the front of the store.

Try Some Daiginjo Sake

The 8th Generation Proprietor, Teruo Fujii
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto
Mr Fujii is quite a calligrapher, his ‘kyo’ (京) adorns this label.

The Proprietor Counseling on Sake
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto

The Proprietor Counseling on Sake
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto

Pasteurized Sake
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto
Pasteurized sake can be kept at room temperature. If you want to take some sake back home with you, pasteurized sake is what you want.

Pasteurized Sake
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto

Unpasteurized Sake
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto
Unpasteurized sake must be refrigerated. If you purchase unpasteurized sake, you will want to keep it cool and drink it while you are in Kyoto.

Selection of Shochu
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto
The large ceramic pots are fill with shochu, customers can bring their own container and have them filled by the staff.

The Proprietor Blogging
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto
Unfortunately it cannot be seen in this photo, but Mr Fujii’s desk sits atop several Marshall amplifiers. Not your usual shinise! The refrigerated cases in the background display unpasteurized sake.

Fine Japanese Whiskey
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto
Mr Fujii says that recently many foreign visitors are looking for Japanese whiskey.

Yamazaki Single Malt Whiskey
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto
The Suntory Yamazaki Distillery is located in a suburb of Kyoto.

The Proprietor’s Calligraphy
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto
Calligraphy in Japanese or English.

The Proprietor’s Calligraphy

The Proprietor’s Calligraphy
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto
This makes for unique gifts.

Tsunoki Storefront in Nishiki Market
Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto

Note: Some ryokan do not like it if you drink your own sake in your room. The main reason to have your own fine sake is that the ryokan has failed to prepare it’s own. Don’t accept this. Many ryokan have their own private label sake and they are often just mediocre with a nice label and high price.

Our recommendation:
1. DO NOT stay at a ryokan that doesn’t allow guests to enjoy sake of their choice in their own room.
2. DO NOT stay at a ryokan that charges extra if guests drink their own sake.
3. If a ryokan has such terms as the above, they have to be stated clearly in the reservation process or when checking in. If terms are not clearly stated, it is perfectly natural by Japanese custom to refuse payment.
4. If you have a bad experience, send us an email as we are considering a ‘Hall of Shame’ page.

There are a lot of cheap, crappy and stuck-up restaurants, shops and inns in Kyoto. If you are visiting Kyoto from abroad, you will have spent a lot of time and money to get here and you deserve to be treated well!

*Tell’em all about it!: When you visit a restaurant or shop that you heard about from KyotoFoodie, please tell them about us. Thank you!

English:
English menu/pamphlet: none
English website: none
Service/Staff: helpful and friendly
Hours: 9:00 am-6:00 pm, closed the second Wednesday of each month.
Price: 500-10,000 yen. (credit cards are not accepted)
Location and Access: Tsunoki is located in Nishiki Market.
Address: 604-8055 Kyoto-shi Nakagyo-ku Nishiki Ichiba Tominokoji Higashi-iru 194
(京都市中京区錦市場富小路東入ル194)
Telephone: 075-221-2441

Map:

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14 Responses to “Tsunoki: Premium Sake Dealer in Nishiki Market Kyoto”

  1. kat says:

    I didn’t know that you should bring your own sake, that is brilliant! And even cooler that you will start a “hall of shame” page!

  2. Peko Peko says:

    Hello there kat,

    Yeah, some places are snobby about bringing your own sake, but come on, it’s your room! You can bring your own toothpaste, you can use your own mobile phone in your room etc, right?
    My complaint is expensive ryokan with crappy sake (or wine/beer). If the ryokan really has decent sake, fine. Convince me, don’t force me.

    About Hall of Shame, we recently had a horrible experience with a restaurant that we used to love. The problem is the manager. Also, there are a lot of famous and expensive places in Kyoto that are a rip off and/or the service is haughty and rude. We are still pondering the issue. Thanks for the support!

  3. A hall of shame is a good idea but it would be cool if you had a list of good ryokan’s you’d recommend. Thanks for the tip on this place, it makes me want to revisit Kyoto soon.

  4. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Marc,
    Thank you for the input.
    I live in Kyoto and cannot recall ever staying at a ryokan here. I have eaten dinner at several and visited some friends and family staying at Kyoto ryokan. I know where I would stay but in terms of putting up a list, I will have to give this some more thought.
    Thanks!!

  5. CC says:

    The Hall of Shame is such a great idea. This way people won’t be disappointed about Kyoto just because of a few bad merchants out there. It’s a very sad thing when you are being ripped off at a place you love. Can’t wait for the page to be up so I can provide some input.

  6. Peko Peko says:

    Hello CC,

    OK, it looks like we are going to have to give the people what they want! We do have to do it in a way that doesn’t get us (unfairly) shunned by Kyoto. So, I will have to consult some natives here first on the proper way to go about this.

  7. Peko Peko says:

    OK, started a poll on the subject of ‘telling on’ crappy restaurants, shops and inns. It is on the top right of the navigation column.

    Fire away foodies!

  8. Hi Koytofoodie!
    I have a sake website here in NYC and I really wish I had known about this sake shop on my last trip to Kyoto! I went last October for the Sake Samurai ceremony at Shimogamo. I also posted on my site about the sake shops i was able to find in Kyoto on my own:
    http://www.urbansake.com/about-sake/shopping-for-sake-isetan-the-musical.html

    I’m heading to Kyoto again this october and would love any additional recommendations on shopping for sake! Thanks for the great site! I’m enjoying reading it.
    Tim

  9. telamonides says:

    Hello.

    I have been reading your site for the last week or so and really enjoy it. I will be in Kyoto in mid November and will likely try some of the shinise that you have featured.

    You mentioned that Fujii san blogs, but you did not link to it. Could you possibly do that? Thanks.

  10. Peko Peko says:

    Hey UrbanSake.comのTim,

    It was great meeting up with you in Kyoto, too bad Tsunoki happened to be closed the day that we went there!

    *Hey everyone, Tim is a REAL Sake Samurai!

  11. Peko Peko says:

    Hello telamonides,

    Glad to hear that you are enjoying KyotoFoodie!

    Fuji-san’s site is here: http://www.tsunoki.co.jp The navigation is a little difficult for me to understand. I guess the whole site is his blog, but I can never locate the home page of the blog. Oh well.

    Of course, it is all in Japanese.

  12. [...] We reviewed Tsunoki on KyotoFoodie last summer in this article. Check out the interview, photos, extensive Kyoto sake information and tips for selecting a good [...]

  13. Craig says:

    Headed to Japan in less than two weeks, and planning 4 days in Kyoto – very much looking forward to it, and planning on reading the rest of your blog extensively after reading this article. Thanks!

    Craig Jenkins
    Toronto, Canada

  14. Did get there and bought a bottle – wanted to ship home crates of course :) The ‘have a glass while you walk’ thing is, sadly, no more.

    This place is super easy to find – definitely recommended.

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