Ponshukan is popular among Japanese sake lovers from near and far. This famous sake shop in Niigata, one of Japan’s largest sake brewing regions, is home to a huge array of local brews.
The Echigo Sake Museum Ponshukan at JR Niigata Station gathers the prefecture’s offerings in one place. Here we'll take you inside Ponshukan Niigata and share five of the shop’s most recommended sake, recommended by a sake master, no less.

Ponshukan Sake Museum: Niigata Sake and Souvenirs

In Japan, there is this huge range of alcohol that the world just doesn’t seem to know about. From incredibly elegant sakes to casual weekend beers, we love them all.
But sake ("nihonshu" in Japanese) is Japan's most famous alcohol, so more and more tourists are seeking it out on their Japan travels. But with so many different flavors (sweet, dry, this yeast or that yeast, the list goes on), people are often easily confused…
That’s where Ponshukan’s guide comes in.
Founded on the concept of “talking about the culture of Echigo Uonuma with food,” Ponshukan Niigata Station is a souvenir shop that sells sake, rice crackers, and other rice-based drinks.
Ponshukan Niigata Station has four main sections: the “Sake Bansho” sake tasting area; “Echigo Uonuma Shoten,” which sells rice crackers, soy sauce, and miso; the “Bakudan Onigiri House” rice ball shop; and, added in April of 2019, the “Kakuuchi Sake Bar,” where you can enjoy sake with a meal.
For sake enthusiasts, the highlight of Ponshukan is the Sake Bansho where you can sample sake from all over Niigata. Brewery recommended varieties are available from dispensers lining the wall, and the number is overwhelming!

Trying the Best Sake at Ponshukan Sake Museum!

Ponshukan uses a token system for sake tasting. Patrons receive five tokens for 500 yen. The tokens are inserted into the Niigata sake vending machines, which then automatically fill a cup. There are so many choices you may have trouble deciding which five to try!
We turned to the store clerk, Yuji Kobayashi, for recommendations. He is one of the few people who take the exam to become a sakasho (sake master) and we asked him which five types are popular among international tourists.

1. Cowboy Yamahai – Sake for Steak

“Cowboy Yamahai” is carefully aged to go well with meat dishes – especially steak – to achieve maker Shiokawa Sake Brewery’s goal of sharing Japan’s sake culture abroad.
Cowboy Yamahai satisfies with a rich whiskey-like taste and a dry aftertaste. It’s recommended on-the-rocks, but the flavor is robust enough that it’s still delicious when mixed with soda. Th…

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