Saturday, October 13, 2012


I visited 'Izumibashi-shuzo' in Kanagawa on 6th September.

Izumibashi says that sake brewing includes rice farming.  Izumibashi have their own rice field and they also get some rice from farmers in the area who they have built a very close relationship with.

When I visited them, the Kamenoo rice was almost ready for harvesting. The others, Yamadanishiki and Omachi, were still young. Kamenoo's origin is Tohoku. So Kamenoo grows earlier in Kanagawa, then Yamadanishiki (Hyogo) and Omachi (Okayama) grow later. It was very interesting to see the rice with different origins all at the same time.

They do not use chemical fertilizers or agricultural chemicals on most of their rice.

Recently many breweries use organic or organically grown rice for their sake. Organic farming is good for our environment and our health. But the main reason of using organic rice is much simpler. They can make really good sake by using these rice.

 Kamenoo rice.

 The white long bristles are the Kamonoo's trademark.
The bristles make the beautiful color of 'Nishiki-iro'.

 Yamadanishiki rice.

 Omachi rice.

 Yamadanishiki (left) is much taller than Omachi (right).

 A Japanese ute with the Izumibashi-mark (under 600cc engine).
 A huge rice polishing machine.

 His new machine!

 They used to use this boat when there was flooding (a long time ago).

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Monday, October 1, 2012

My visit to Shinkame

On 31st August, I (Taka) visited a brewery 'Shinkame-shuzo' in Saitama. 

In 1987 this brewery became the first to change to producing only Junmaishu. This was an epoch-making event. The brewers' emphasis was on ageing the sake.

Breweries make sake in winter, so I could not see the sake making process. However I got  some interesting things from this visit.

This summer in Japan was really hot. Over 30˚C outside everyday.

A big beetle in the backyard. This beetle is a symbol of summer in Japan.

At the office, his favorite cat クララ (Clara) is happy in her box.

Shinkame sake ageing in the sake tanks.

This is the cold ageing room (-10˚C). Daiginjo & Ginjo sake is in this room for couple years.

The top of the sake fermentation tanks.

They use these parts on top of the tanks. So there is no chance the workers will fall into the large tanks.

These tanks are for the middle brewing stage between the yeast starter and the main mush. I haven't seen these middle size tanks at other breweries, but Mr Ogawahara says everyone used to use them a long time ago. The temperature control is easy by using these tanks.

Return to the office, Mr. Ogawahara is happy with his favorite cat, クララ (Clara).

The 'Shinkame shop' next to the brewery building.

They have a good selection of sake (Of course!).