A stop at The Suntory Yamazaki Whiskey Distillery is a recommended stop for anyone visiting Oyamazaki. The world famous Suntory Whisky brand got its start here, and in fact this is where the history of Japanese whiskey began. The tour of the facilities is very popular with Japanese weekend tourists, and the company advises reservations (tel: 075-962-1423). Though reservations are recommended, my partner and I were able to walk right in on a busy Saturday afternoon.
The tour is in Japanese, however even without understanding the guide the manicured grounds, tradition, history, and attention to detail are awe-inspiring. I recommend going on a weekend as overflow crowds cut the standard one-hour tour time to a quick-and-easy 30 minutes. Hey, if you can’t understand what the guide is saying anyway. . .
Following the tour guests are provided with high-quality, complimentary Yamazaki Whisky drinks and snacks. The real difference between this and just any other brewery or factory tour is the immaculate facilities. One quickly forgets they are in one of the most densely populated countries on the globe as the distillery’s wide open spaces and beautiful gardens quickly puts one at ease.
To reach the area, take a local Hankyu to Oyamazaki Station or JR train to Yamazaki Station (about 25 minutes) from either Osaka or Kyoto. The walk connects the two JR stations. There is a free shuttle bus from JR Yamazaki or Hankyu Oyamazaki station to the distillery, but if it is a nice day I recommend a lazy walk to the site. En-route travelers will be teased into taking lots of pictures by beautiful neighborhoods of old-world Japanese buildings.