There’s nothing worse that getting stuck on a guided tour going through room upon room of humdrum displays while a sleepy-eyed guide rambles on about nothing important. To save us all from making the mistake of going on a boring tour, Trip Advisor Japan compiled a list of the best factory tours in the country. Results are ranked according to the most talked about museums and factories on their website. As you might expect, over half of the best tours involve alcohol.
1. Instant Ramen Museum (Osaka)
Visitors can not only view the history of instant ramen, but also try their hand at making Chicken Ramen from scratch in a 90-minute workshop that costs only 500 yen (US$4.95). Visitors can also choose to make their own Cup Noodles for 300 yen ($2.96). English audio guides are available for videos shown in the Research Shack and Cup Noodle Drama Theatre.
Nuchi-masu is a salt made in Okinawa that is so rich in minerals, it was in the Guinness World Records in 2000. Nuchi-masu is made entirely of Okinawan seawater taken from the Pacific Ocean and visitors of the salt factory can view and experience the making of this natural seasoning.
3. Nikka Whiskey Distillery (Yoichi City, Hokkaido)
Self-guided tours and guided-tours in Japanese are conducted daily. The best part is that visitors can taste three different types of whiskey for free.
4. Orion Beer Factory (Nago City, Okinawa)
Lesser known Orion beer can be sampled during your visit to Okinawa at the Orion Beer Factory.
With a name like that, it’s got to be a good tour. Visitors to Kawasaki Good Times World are treated to a showcase of technology made by the Kawasaki Heavy Industries Group including ships, rolling stock, aircraft, and motorcycles.
6. Suntory Musashino Factory (Fuchuu City, Tokyo)
Enjoy free samples of beer here…and tours and other stuff, but mostly free samples.
7. Suntory Yamazaki Distillery (Shimamoto Town, Osaka)
Enjoy free Yamazaki Whiskey here!
8. Chateraise (Hokuto City, Yamanashi)
Chateraise is a natural sweets and gifts company in Yamanashi Prefecture. Enjoy a tour of the ice cream making facilities as well as sweet samples.
The Toyota Technology Museum boasts over 4,000 exhibition pieces in their Nagoya-based building.
10. Suntory Kyoto Beer Factory (Nagaokakyou City, Kyoto)
Enjoy those free samples!
11. Asahi Beer Factory (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka)
This isn’t even the last alcohol-based tour on our list…
12. Suntory Tomi No Oka Winery (Kai City, Yamanashi)
For wine lovers.
13. Kirin Yokohama Beer Village (Yokohama City, Kanagawa)
Keep scrolling for more beer tour options.
14. Unagi Pie Factory (Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka)
Unagi Pies are a famous Hamamatsu City confectionary. After touring the factory, visitors are invited to try original ice cream creations using Unagi Pies.
15. Sapporo Beer Museum (Sapporo City, Hokkaido)
16. Suntory Hakushu Distillery (Hakuto City, Yamanashi)
17. Tokachi Winery (Tokachi City, Hokkaido)
18. Shiroi Koibito Park (Sapporo City, Hokkaido)
Enjoy sampling Hokkaido’s famous treat at the Shiroi Koibito Park.
19. Royce Chocolate World (Chitose City, Hokkaido)
Royce Chocolate World is in the New Chitose Airport. It is the first chocolate factory and museum located in an airport.
20. Cup Noodle Museum (Yokohama City, Kanagawa)
View 3,000 different packages of ramen and enjoy making your own at the Cup Noodle Museum.
There you have it, the top 20 factory tours in Japan starting and ending with ramen. Of the 20 factories listed, 11 are related to alcohol and five are located in Hokkaido. Suntory seems to hold great tours if the company’s five spots in the top 20 are any indication. But the lesson to take away from this list is that no matter where you go in Japan you’ll be able to find a factory tour giving out free alcohol. Happy drinking!