Mediocre saké can be had at any convenience store and even some vending machines, even in Kyoto. If you are coming all the way to Japan, you probably want to get some good stuff.
Peko recommends namazake (生酒), namazake is unpasteurized saké .
Getting fine saké is actually more of a challenge than you might expect.
Here are a few places that I recommend.
— Central Kyoto —
Tsunoki is an 8th generation shinise sake dealer centrally located in Nishiki Market.
We reviewed Tsunoki on KyotoFoodie. This article has a good deal of useful information.
Map: OpenKyoto/KyotoFoodie Map – Tsunoki
Kunitaya is located just a minute or so walk north of the Kawaramachi-Marutamachi intersection, it is on the west side of the street.
The Kawaramachi-Marutamachi intersection is near the south-east corner of Gosho, the Imperial Palace grounds and just west of Keihan Jingu Marutamachi Station.
Kunitaya is remarkable for its selection of unpasteurized sake, mostly from the Uehara brewery in Shiga Prefecture. Kunitaya has a large selection of other alcoholic beverages as well. Also, it is open until 1 am (except Sunday).
Map: OpenKyoto/KyotoFoodie Map – Kunitaya
é– North Kyoto —
Ukai Shoten is located in the Nishijin weaving district. Ukai Shoten has been in business since 1905 and only carries namazake (they do carry non-sake products too).
Ukai Shoten is located on Omiya-dori (street) about half way between Kitaoji and Imadegawa streets.
tel: 075-761-0124 (no English spoken)
address: Kyoto-shi, Kamigyo-ku, Omiya-dori, Teranouchi-agaru, 3 Chome (京都市上京区大宮通寺之内上る三丁目)
map: OpenKyoto/KyotoFoodie Map – Ukai Shoten
This store, located in Fushimi ward (south Kyoto) and has an exceptional selection of saké from all over Japan including a large offering of fresh, unpasteurized ‘nama‘ saké . Fushimi, of course, is the center of saké production in Kyoto. Fushimi is the second largest saké production region in Japan. The delicate taste is said to be due to the mineral content of Fushimi’s famous water.
Osaki Shoten is not particularly convenient. It is about a 15 minute walk from the nearest station (Fushimi Momoyama and Momoyama Goryomae). If you live in south Kyoto or are touring sake breweries in Fushimi, or you are really into naga sake, you would probably like to visit this quaint old store, jam packed with sake.
The building is an exquisite Fushimi machiya.
Osaki Shoten has no website and probably no English service.