Introduction of Miwa Shuzo (Miwa Sake Brewery)
Established in Ogaki, the Water Capital, in 1837, the brewery produced sake for the Toda area.
The mainstay of Miwa Shuzo, the Shirakawago Junmai Nigorizake, was first produced at the request of the Shirakawa village, now a world cultural heritage site for its rafted roof houses, to be gifts of o-miki (sake offerings in shrines) for the Doburoku Festival.
The idea was to make a 'Doburoku' (cloudy sake) product as close to that served at the Doburoku Festival to make the townspeople happy.
To do this, pure rice was used and an exceptional sake with a Japanese sake 'do' (a standard measure of sweetness/dryness) of minus 25 was created.
History and background
Miwa Shuzo’s historical storehouse
Found in the familiar mountainous area of Gifu, Shirakawa village has been designated by the Unesco Committee as a World Cultural Heritage site for its rafter-roofed houses. For hundreds of years, these rafter-roofed houses have been protected and maintained by the villagers through their cooperative efforts as a symbol of their communal ties. The houses create a very nostalgic scenery for Japanese people, and generate a feeling of kindly warmth for visitors.
Shirakawa village’s iconic buildings
In addition, from the end of September through October, one of the world's most unique festivals, the Doburoku Festival, takes place here with people praying at shrines in each of the districts to the mountain gods for fertility, family safety, and peace in the village. Beginning around 1300 years ago, Doburoku has been used in the festival in this area. Every year a little 'brewery' at each shrine serves Doburoku made with its own special ancient techniques passed down through the generations. This is a true Japanese hometown festival at which one can see the villagers and the visitors from far away drinking Miki-Doburoku (sake offerings to shrines) together in thanks for the harvest.
The local Doburoku Festival
Shirakawago sake first came about when the sixth brewmaster of Miwa Shuzo was asked by the mayor of Shirakawa Village to produce a Doburoku similar to that served at the festival able to be drunk and sold at any time of the year. However, at that time there was no precedent of a nigorizake produced for sale year-round, so initially it wasn't officially permitted to be sold under the alcohol tax laws. But through continued tenacious negotiations, the national tax board finally recognized and allowed the sale of nigorizake, after finally admitting that it was the best way to prevent its illegal production and distribution. Upon hearing this, Shirakawa Village was overjoyed and the village council authorized the trademark name of Shirakawago.
Miwa Shuzo’s famous cloudy sake
While cherishing the role played by the previous generations in creating the name Shirakawago, and being particular about the ingredients and brewing process, we the producers of Shirakawago Junmai Nigorizake want to pass along the culture and traditions of nigorizake to the next generation.