KYOTO--Kyoto’s Fushimi Ward is probably best known as one of the historic centers of sake making in Japan, but that reputation itself rests on something more basic--its water.
Legend has it the famous samurai warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-98) dug a well in Fushimi Castle to get at the underground water coming off the Momoyama hills, and delighted in its purity in his tea house.
Now, the district is promoting its best asset as a tourist attraction.
“Water in Fushimi tastes different from place to place,” Yoshinori Sogi, 67, the chief priest at Gokonomiya shrine, said. “I hope visitors will enjoy water tastings, just like they do sake tastings.”
Sogi's shrine is one of the most famous water sources in the area. A temple record says a spring of "fragrant" water appeared in the shrine grounds during the Heian Period (794-1185), hence the name Gokonomiya (Shrine of fragrant water).
Its sweet “gokosui” water dried up during the Meiji Era (1868-1912) but reappeared in 1982 and now attracts around 100 people a day collecting water to take home.
Kumiko Sadatomi, a 34-year-old homemaker from Tokyo visiting the shrine with her husband on a tour of famous water sources, was impressed: “It doesn’t have any odd qualities and tastes good.”
Gokonomiya shrine is a five-minute walk from Momoyama Goryo Station on the Kintetsu Line. Admission is free and visitors are allowed to take water away with them.
Any trip to Fushimi would not be complete without a visit to one of the breweries that make Fushimi the second-largest producer of sake in Japan.
At the Okura Sake Museum, operated by one of Japan’s major brewers, Gekkeikan Sake Co., the purity of its mild “sakamizu” (sake water) is a point of pride.
Its hardness makes it ideal for making “amakuchi” (sweet) sake, according to a company official.
The Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum is five-minute walk from Keihan Electric Railway's Chushojima Station. Admission is 300 yen ($3.80) for adults and 100 yen for junior and senior high school students.
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