If you ever find yourself in Akita Prefecture, plan on paying a visit to Hikobe, a historic sake brewery that’s recently been renovated to include a cafe and tasting center. It’s a unique space where locals and tourists come together over a shared appreciation for one of the prefecture’s most popular exports: sake.

all photos: Photo Office-K (Daisuke Kondo)

The Shitamachi Brewery Hikobe was established 330 years ago in 1688. Over the years the building had undergone numerous renovations that were not as thought-out at they could have been, creating a convoluted space. So in 2017, Sugawara Daisuke Architects came in to create a simplified “micro expansion” that consists of big doors and triangular canopies.

Completed in mid-2018, the renovated space connects the indoors to the front-facing main street to the back, which has been converted into an event space. With vaulted ceilings, the 2-story tasting room functions as a cafe where visitors can enjoy non-alcoholic beverages, as well as taste some of the sake that the region produces. Individual bottles are also available for sale. Hikobe also offers tours of their brewery, situated next door, but you’ll have to call or email them in advance to reserve a free spot.

Hikobe is located roughly 30-minutes from Akita Station (Gmap). They’re open weekdays from 10:00AM – 5:30PM.