Sawanoi is a small brewery located in the west of Tokyo. It isn’t in central Tokyo but about 1.5 hours west of central Tokyo. To get there, you take the Chuo Line to Tachikawa and switch to the Ome Line. At Ome Station, you switch again and continue down the Ome Line to Sawai Station. From there, it is a short walk to get to the brewery. When I visited, I visited from Ikusabata Station as I wanted to explore the trail along the Tama River and enjoy a short walk enjoying the nature.
Coming from Ikusabata Station, I walked along the Tama River along the Mitake Valley trail. The trail leads directly to Sawanoi Sakagura, so you don’t have to worry at all about finding it. It is actually at the first bridge you come upon along the trail. Sawanoi has several sections spread out over a nice area. From the trail you come up to the restaurant which is a very quiet area. I have been told that the restaurant isn’t as good as other places, so it might be a bit of a tourist trap. Since I was in a larger group (9 people) we decided not to spend time in the restaurant and opted to just enjoy the garden.
Across the way from the restaurant is Sawanoi-en, or Sawanoi Garden. It is a nice large open space that is surrounded by trees and bordered by the main tasting shop and the river. The majority of the seats are exposed to the elements and only protected by the trees above. If it is raining, a lot of those seats are going to be wet. There is a covered section but if you have a nice large group you won’t be able to sit together. The open air sections are a lot better for relaxing as they have round tables and it is a lot easier to squeeze more people into a small table.
There are 3 shops to buy things at Sawanoi Garden. They are all located together and on the far left is the food shop. You actually have to go to the vending machine first and then you can go and get your food. Note that the vending machine is actually located before the shops and sometimes there are lines. The food is standard fare, such as soba and onigiri, but the options really aren’t very appetizing. In the middle is the liquor shop. They have bottles of Sawanoi sake, umeshu, and beer. It was the first place I went to and the only place I went to. Who needs food when you have beer and sake. On the right is a small gift shop where you can get a few snacks and also learn a little about the area. Think of it as a miscellaneous shop.
Upstairs, and overlooking the garden, is the tasting section. If you are visiting Sawanoi, bring a cup as you can get a small discount on their sake. The tasting section is just up a set of stairs and there are nice tables in an air conditioned room. When I visited tasting section, you could get snacks, 2 packs for 300 yen, and drinks, which ranged from 200 yen to 400 yen. You got a 100 yen discount for each refill you ordered. If you bring your own cup, like a couple of older men did, I think you get 100 yen off no matter what. They have a very good lineup of drinks and since they don’t skimp on the sizes, you get your money’s worth. The Sawanoi Garden is still cheaper as you can buy big bottles, but you really can’t compare the two.
If you want to go on a tour, you can sign up for the tour at the liquor shop section of Sawanoi Garden. They have a small clip board and people sign up as they arrive. Sign up early if you want to go on the tour but be aware that the tour is only in Japanese. The tour actually starts across the street. If you head up to the tasting area, you’ll see a tunnel that crosses the main street above. Once you cross the street, you will be at the main brewery and it is pretty easy to figure out where you go; just head into the brewery and away from the road.
Sawanoi is a great place to visit and is very accessible to Tokyo. It doesn’t take too long to visit this nice little brewery but do plan to spend a bit more time there so you can enjoy the nature, the cooler weather, and copious amounts of sake. The food may not be the best but it is filling.
- Sawanoi (Official Site – Japanese Only)